Fort Pickett Fire & Rescue hosts incident command course

Participants in the ICS 300 course taught by Fort Pickett Fire & EMS work through a flood response scenario Oct. 3, 2018, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. (Photo courtesy Fort Pickett Fire & Rescue)

BLACKSTONE, Va. — Fort Pickett Fire & Rescue hosted instruction on the National Incident Management System Training Program Incident Command System Level 300 Course Oct. 3, 10 and 11, 2018, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. In addition to training their own personnel, first responders from nearby organizations also took part.

“The ICS 300 course is advanced training where students learn to work together and pre-plan support for an event,” explained Danny Clary, assistant fire chief. “After receiving classroom instruction on a variety of topics, students participated in a scenario where they could put their new knowledge to the test. Students worked together as a team to fill the vital rolls in the Incident Command System during a simulated flood.”

A total of 12 students from Fort Pickett Fire & Rescue, Mecklenburg County Emergency Services, Southside Virginia Community College, South Hill Fire Department and Gasburg Volunteer Fire Department completed the training.

The course was conducted through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, and Clary said that this was the first time they had hosted the course. Earlier this year, personnel from Fort Pickett Fire & Rescue received instructor training certification so they could conduct their own training. In the future, they hope to teach the ICS 400 course, and they can also teach the ICS 300 course to new personnel as well as conducting refresher training.

According to FEMA, ICS 300 training is for federal, state and local persons serving as command staff, section chiefs, strike team leaders, task force leaders, unit leaders, division/group supervisors, branch directors and multi-agency coordination system/emergency operations center staff. Four online courses are required before enrolling in the 300 level course.

The course covers staffing and organization to include reporting, working relationships and information flow as well as unified command functions in a multi-jurisdictional or multi-agency incident. It also covers ICS forms, resource management and Interagency mission planning and procurement.

Personnel from the Virginia Department of Military Affairs also supported the course.

“Virginia Department of Military Affairs Emergency Manager Allan Evans presented vital information to help students function in key rolls during emergency incidents, and Mr. Tim White with Department of Military Affairs Human Resources provided technical and administrative support during the course,” Clary said.

Fort Pickett Fire & Rescue is a state-operated fire department consisting of twenty full-time employees and three part-time employees that operate out of a single fire station, Clary explained. In addition to the station personnel the department also runs the communications center which consists of four full-time employees and five part-time employees. There are also five National Guard firefighters assigned to the department. Apparatus staffed by the department consists of two fire engines, two brush trucks, two ambulances, an aircraft crash truck, one forestry dozer with transport truck, a hazardous materials trailer, technical rescue trailer and a pick-up truck.

The department responds to approximately six hundred calls per year, Clary said.

“This total is a mix of response types that include emergency medical services, building fire alarms, structure fires, brush fires, prescribed burns, motor vehicle accidents, aircraft standby’s, after hours building facility issues and a variety of other assistance calls to provide a safe atmosphere for those who are training on the facility,” he said. “In addition to emergency response, the department also participates in activities such as building inspections, daily equipment and station maintenance, department training, educational programs such as fire extinguisher training for occupants of the facility and plans reviews for new buildings or renovations to ensure compliance with current fire and life safety codes.”

Clary explained that station personnel are divided into three shifts that work a twenty-four-hour rotating shift. Each shift has six assigned personnel to include an assistant fire chief, two firefighters/advanced life savers and three firefighter/emergency medical technicians. The three part-time firefighters are used to supplement staffing levels when full-time employees are on leave. A wildland firefighter works Monday through Friday to address brush fires and manage the installation prescribed burn program which aids in reducing wildfires caused by training operations on the facility. The fire chief also works Monday through Friday and handles the administrative functions of both the fire station and communications center.

The communications center consists of one supervisor and three full-time dispatchers who work eight-hour rotating shifts, Clary said. The part-time employees fill in as needed and also cover the eight-hour shifts and during peak hours to have two dispatchers on duty. The communications center answers the 911 emergency phone line, dispatches the proper resources to the scene, tracks movement of emergency equipment, answers the facility switchboard to connect callers to the correct office buildings around the installation and serves as an information center for people who are looking for directions or guidance while on the installation.

Fort Pickett is comprised of approximately 41,000 acres and is operated by the Virginia National Guard. It features a combination of open and wooded terrain maneuver areas and 21 ranges capable of supporting almost any weapons system in the U. S. Army inventory. In addition, the installation has a rail spur and C-17 capable airfield as well as barracks to support more than 5,000 personnel and morale, welfare and recreation facilities including a gym, post exchange and leisure center.

Senior DMA leaders visit the ICS 300 course Oct. 10, 2018, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. From left to right: Danny Clary, Walter Mercer, John Hines, Bobby Lester, Jon Taylor, Lew Stringer, Cody Lewis, Jonathan Powell, Michael Harris, Jeramiah Fix, Cameron Bailey, William Wright, Michael Vaughan, Maygan Clary, Tom Tanner, Tim White and Michelle Claiborne. (Photo courtesy Fort Pickett Fire & Rescue)