It all began in 1994 when the Colorado offered its first academy-style training at La Foret Camp in the Black Forest area northeast of Colorado Springs. A total of 5 courses were offered and approximately 90 people from local agencies attended the 3-day event. In 1995 we headed to the town of Eagle. Using various locations in town, 10 courses were provided. A total of 225 people attended the 5-day event. In 1996 the name “Colorado Wildfire Academy” was born. This Academy brought almost 600 people from 12 states, representing all levels of government and private enterprises. Held in Buena Vista, the event lasted 6 days offering 20 courses. This Academy marked 5 major changes in operation.
A) Long-term interagency planning meetings, beginning in October.
B) The involvement of a non-agency, private foundation – Upper Arkansas Valley Wildfire Foundation (UAVWF). They would serve as the Academy’s bank account, collecting fees, paying bills etc.
C) The active participation of the local Chamber of Commerce. Mailing community information packets to registrants.
D) The use of a high school for a self-contained fire training incident. This allowed adequate classroom space and facilities, use of cafeteria, camping area, use of showers, and adequate parking.
E) The use of trainees in Safety, Planning, Information and Logistical sections. The incident presented a prime opportunity to train people and complete task book requirements.
June 1-8, 1997 was held at the high school in Leadville, Colorado. Almost 700 participants came from 25 states. Twenty-nine courses were offered along with 13 vendors. One major change was instituted in the operation of the 1997 Academy. The Upper Arkansas Valley Wildfire Foundation (UAVWF) hired an “Academy Coordinator”. This position was absolutely critical to the overall success of the event and was a huge workload relief to the existing staff of the Colorado State Forest Service in Salida. Due to the need for fire training in the eastern plains of Colorado the “Great Plains Wildfire College” (GPWC) evolved and was held in Lamar, Colorado in the fall of 1997.
From this point we continued to offer bi-annual training events each year. Here are the places we have been since 1994:
- 1994 – Camp La Foret, Black Forest
- 1995 – Eagle
- 1996 – Buena Vista
- 1997 – Leadville & Lamar
- 1998 – Gunnison & Lamar
- 1999 – Cortez
- 2000 – Salida & Fort Morgan
- 2001 – Montrose & Fort Morgan
- 2002 – Alamosa & Sterling
- 2003 – Alamosa & Sterling
- 2004 – Carbondale & Sterling
- 2005 – Montrose & Sterling
- 2006 – Cortez & Sterling
- 2007 – Alamosa & Sterling
- 2008 – Gunnison & Sterling
- 2009 – Montrose & Greeley
- 2010 – Canon City & Greeley
- 2011 – Frisco & Colorado Springs
- 2012 – Alamosa & Greeley
- 2013 – Montrose & Colorado Springs
- 2014 - Colorado Springs & New Castle
In 2007 the Colorado Wildfire Academy and Great Plains Wildfire College became one, the Colorado Wildland Fire & Incident Management Academy. This was a necessary transition to better provide the “All Hazards” training that our Incident Management Teams require.
We look forward to exceeding the standards in wildland fire and incident management training through the guidelines set forth by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG).