(St. George, UT) - After a mild winter, fire crews are preparing for wildfire season. Weather models point to an "average" fire season for most of the state, but Southern Utah predictions look "above average."
Firefighters in Ivins trained Thursday for the upcoming season, doing push-ups on a blacktop surface with temperatures close to a hundred degrees.
Nick Hallman sure didn't want to do them. So he made sure not to hit any orange cones while driving frontwards and backwards in a fire truck.
"The hydraulics, the engine, the driving. A lot of the stuff, to me, is brand new," Hallman said.
He's is a firefighter with the Ivins fire department, but he's joining the Forest Service to fight wildfires. This is part of the training: 80 hours to get ready.
"The opportunity to practice them here before I'm out on a live fire is, to me, that's hugely valuable," Hallman said.
The BLM, Forest Service, and other agencies set up this training course at the old St. George airport. Firefighters drove through obstacle courses, set up water points, and went through scenarios where water was needed, but scarce. Trainers watched their every move.
"In a fire situation, they get put under a lot of stress," said Milena Rockwood with the Forest Service.
All the firefighters in Ivins understand with the mild winter we've had, and the dry conditions out there, this could be a very challenging season for wildfires.
Jason Curry, with Utah's Division of Forestry, Fire, and State lands said that the season will be a bit more active than normal. More than ever, he's hoping people outdoors are careful.
"We get about half of our fires every year, human caused," Curry said.
That is why these firefighters train, and sometimes do pushups.
"You're keeping yourself, your engine, and your team safer," Hallman said