NVFC Holds Regional Wildland Symposium in Box Elder, SD

Inaugural event drew attendees from 24 states

The National Volunteer Fire Council held its inaugural Regional Wildland Symposium on March 17-18 in Box Elder, SD (just outside Rapid City). This new conference featured breakout sessions, panel discussions, keynote speakers, and networking opportunities focused on issues relating to wildland fire response and mitigation in the Plains region.

Seventy-five first responders from 24 states gathered for two days of training, education, and idea-sharing. Eighteen of the attendees received a travel stipend from the NVFC to help offset the costs of attending. These stipends covered up to $600 for expenses including airfare/mileage, hotel, and registration fee.

The packed agenda addressed a range of topics to provide best practices and solutions that responders can consider when working with communities to mitigate wildland fire impact and to keep first responders safe in the event of wildfire response. The agenda included the following speakers and presentations:

  • Paul Acosta – Prairie Tactics: If Not You, Then Who?
  • Bill Arsenault – Increasing Response Effectiveness in the WUI for Volunteer Departments
  • Chad Baumgarten – Windy Fire, South Dakota
  • Debbie Carpenter – Using Your Community’s Vulnerabilities to Raise Wildfire Awareness
  • Jeff Dill – Internal Size-Up for Wildland Firefighters
  • Rodney Foster – Better Staging
  • Mike Johnson – Community Wildfire Mitigation
  • Charlie Kludt – This is How We Do It on the Farm
  • Todd Leiss – Wildland Fires and Traffic Management
  • Sara Mullins – Show Me the Money: How to Find Funding
  • Panel discussion on Finding Resources for Wildland Fire Mitigation and Response moderated by Dr. Candice McDonald and featuring Timothy Melchert, Sara Mullins, and David Shew

In addition to the educational sessions, there were opportunities for networking and sharing of ideas among the attendees. This included a networking expo at the Journey Museum and Learning Center sponsored by Anheuser-Busch Foundation, BK Technologies, DripDrop Hydration, FirstNet Authority, Josh Cellars, Visit Rapid City, and Wendell’s Mint.

The Regional Wildland Symposium was made possible due to a federal grant from the U.S. Forest Service. The NVFC thanks all who attended and all who instructed for a successful event. The NVFC will host another educational conference, the Training Summit, in Oklahoma City, OK, on June 23-24. This event focuses on responder health and safety, volunteer recruitment and retention, and leadership. Travel stipends of up to $900 are available to help more responders attend. Learn more and register at www.nvfc.org/summit. Find more training opportunities at www.nvfc.org/trainings.

See more from the Regional Wildland Symposium in this video from News Center 1.

NVFC SD director Charlie Kludt welcomed the group to South Dakota at the Opening Session.

Sara Mullins led a breakout session on finding funding for wildfire mitigation and response.

Rodney Foster’s breakout session, Better Staging, featured a hands-on communication exercise.

Sponsor Wendell’s Mint was on-site at the Networking Expo to show guests their options for challenge coins.