Ohio Fire Academy Invasive Plant Demonstration Site
The Ohio Fire Academy in Reynoldsburg provides a variety of training programs in not only structural firefighting, but also wildland firefighting. A small woodlot on the property is a valuable resource that allows wildland firefighters the opportunity to practice techniques used in the field during wildfire suppression as well as prescribed fire application.
However, in recent years the woodlot has become overrun with invasive honeysuckle, autumn olive, and privet. These aggressive shrubs severely restrict access to the woodlot and limit its usefulness for realistic wild fire training exercises.
An invasive plant control demonstration project was initiated in June 2010 to remedy this situation. Wildland firefighters from around the state of Ohio participated in this effort. Large shrubs were cut off at the base and the cut material was placed in piles in the interior of the stand. The cut stumps were sprayed with herbicide to prevent them from resprouting. In the fall, the cut material will be burned during a prescribed fire which will coincide with a wildland firefighting training course offered by the Ohio Division of Forestry. To complete this invasive species abatement project, a variety of native vegetation will be planted that will hopefully replace the non-native invasive species and provide a good environment for future wildland fire management training.
Fire Academy Invasive Plant Control Demonstration Project Update
Invasive plant control efforts initiated this year at the Ohio Fire Academy woodlot have greatly improved access and conditions on the site for wildland firefighter training. On November 4th , 2010 the second cohort of the Ohio Woodland Job Corp (OWJC) participated in wildland firefighter training at the academy.
A prescribed burn was implemented at the site to simulate realistic wildfire conditions. During the burn, trainees were able to install a firebreak in the woods, control spot fires that jumped over the break, and employ fire suppression techniques once a control perimeter had been established.
The realistic wildfire training exercise experienced by the members of the Woodland Job Corp was a vast improvement over past training exercises which were restricted to a small area at the outside edge of the woods. Job Corp members gained experience and learned a lot about teamwork, communication, and as well as fighting wildfires.