Our Opinion: Academy hones rescue, firefighting skills

The time and expense of dealing with emergencies, ironically, is hindering opportunities to train for emergencies.

Registration is down for this year’s installment of the University of Missouri Fire School and Midwest Wildfire Training Academy, which begins today in Jefferson City.

We welcome the more than 500 participants from around the country who have gathered in our community to learn more about firefighting and rescue techniques.

Participation, however, marks a downturn from the 1,200 people who attended fire schools in the early 2000s.

“There’s a lot of people helping in Joplin who can’t come,” explained school spokesman Tracy Gray, who also attributed lower attendance to deployments to West Coast wildfires and other natural disasters, as well as agencies’ budget limitations.

The recent rash of natural disasters requiring emergency response underscores the need for the continued training that will take place here through Sunday.

Classroom instruction will be held on the Lincoln University campus, with other types of training taking place at venues around town. Rappelling and rope rescue, for example, will be held at downtown parking garages, while rescue training will occur at the Missouri State Penitentiary site.

We thank the fire school organizers for selecting Jefferson City, once again, as the home for its training academy.

We also commend the participants who will devote the coming week to honing their firefighting and life-saving skills.

Those skills, as recent events have demonstrated, may be put to the test at any time, any place.

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