By Jan Wilson
Ogden Volunteer Fire Department hosts fire training
Jake Smith, Certified Training Officer with the Arkansas Fire Training Academy in Camden, conducted firefighter training at the Ogden Community Center on Wednesday, Feb. 20.
Volunteer firefighters from Ogden and Ashdown received training in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and fire extinguishers. Firefighters were required to suit up in full protective fire gear, including SCBA, sometimes referred to as compressed air breathing apparatus, which provides oxygen while wearing sealed, heat-protective masks. A home-cooked meal, sweet tea and desserts were provided by the Ogden VFD and Mustang Creek Farms who donated grass-fed beef for chili.
The State of Arkansas depends heavily on its network of volunteer fire departments throughout rural counties. Statewide training for these widely-scattered firefighters began in 1939 at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville campus. Because there was not physical base from which to work, instructors traveled throughout Arkansas, teaching firefighting techniques in individual fire department facilities and the regional fire schools. Since 2018, the Arkansas Fire Training Academy offers its services to all fire departments in Arkansas free of charge. The Academy conducts six “Firefighter Standards” classes a year. Completion of these classes results in certification as a Firefighter I and Firefighter II.
Sixteen hours of annual training per firefighter is a requirement for securing and maintaining Act 833 funds, according to Smith. Act 833 is the basic grant for fire departments in Arkansas. The Act further mandates that each fire department have at least six trained firefighters who have successfully completed the modules of (a) Introduction to Firefighting, (b) PPE and (c)Wildland Fire Suppression within the same calendar year.