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MFC Trains Foresters, Rangers, and Technicians in Heavy Equipment Academy

Last week, 16 students participated in the Mississippi Forestry Commission’s (MFC) Heavy Equipment Academy (HEA). The MFC HEA is a week-long class that trains MFC foresters, rangers, and technicians to use heavy equipment to fight wildfires across the state. Mississippi was one of the first states to implement this training technique. This year, the outdoor training days had to be moved around due to the weather on Thursday, but that didn’t stop them from completing the requirements. The outdoor training occurs both during the day and night to give students real hands-on experience.

“Training is a huge part of what we do at the Mississippi Forestry Commission,” said MFC state forester Russell Bozeman. “Responding to wildfires or other natural disasters is dangerous, and the Heavy Equipment Academy gives our employees the real-world training they need to safely and effectively suppress wildfires in the state.”

During the HEA, students participated in three days/nights of fieldwork instruction followed by two days of classroom training at the MFC’s HEA training site in Raymond. Students learned techniques such as properly plowing a firelane with a bulldozer, using a bulldozer to shape slopes, installing BMPs, and properly “recovering” a bulldozer that gets bogged down in the mud. Click here for the video showing each of the stations.

“This real-world training gives employees the experience and confidence they need to perform their wildfire suppression duties when called upon,” Bozeman said. The Mississippi Forestry Commission is committed to equipping its employees with the necessary skills to combat wildfires effectively. The HEA provides hands-on training that prepares forest rangers and technicians to operate heavy equipment in challenging conditions.

Despite the weather challenges, the students successfully completed the training requirements and demonstrated their work capabilities. The MFC is committed to protecting Mississippi’s forests and communities from the devastating effects of wildfires.