After a successful Crew Boss Academy over a decade ago, the MPFC and Ft. Custer Training Center decided to give it a go again and host this robust and engaging training at the southwest Michigan military installations. Cadre (instructors) and students came from across the country to lead and participate in this 10 day training, held in October 2017. Run like an incident for realistic training, students check in, check out gear, are assigned to a crew and are assigned an engine. Through 12 hour days and realistic incidents (from prescribed fire to medical emergencies to missing children), the students gain leadership skills and the capacity to respond to a wide range of challenges.
The curriculum rolls up several different required trainings to reach the level of Single Resource Boss in the National Wildfire Coordinating Group specifications. Instead of sitting in a classroom and listening to someone lecture for 80 hours, this method of training breaks up the needed lessons into classroom as well as realistic incidents to engage in. The instructors are particularly good at creating a training environment that has students learn how they respond to stress-inducing situations and how it impacts their capacity to lead (and to follow, for that matter).
A unique feature of this particular implementation of the curriculum originally developed by The Nature Conservancy was that two of the participants in the first Crew Boss Academy at FCTC were now instructors at this one, having achieved high levels of leadership in their own fire careers over the last decade. They and the rest of the cadre lead these trainings for many reasons, including their belief in the powerful learning that occurs in this fully engaging format AND because the bonds and professional allies gained during these trainings last a lifetime. Indeed, there were several instructors that returned to this CBA, and will likely participate again in future ones.
The MPFC hopes to maintain the tradition of hosting these rigorous academies to benefit the wildland fire community of our state AND our nation.