Volunteer firefighters receive wildfire training

DLNR photo Firefighter wildfire training took place last week at Pohakuloa Training Area.

Wildfire training for volunteer firefighters took place last week at Pohakuloa Training Area, provided by the PTA Fire Department.

The PTA Fire Department is the first responder for fires and other emergencies over a vast area between Maunakea and Mauna Loa and is frequently dispatched across the entire island to provide mutual aid for other departments.


Vegetation on the slopes of Maunakea is tinder dry and because of ever-worsening drought conditions is ripe for another wildfire like the 2021 Mana Road fire. At more than 40,000 acres, it was one of the largest wildland fires in recorded Hawaii history.

Training included 90 West Hawaii volunteer firefighters and volunteer firefighters from Waikii Ranch. They were among the firefighters who helped bring the Mana Road fire under control last summer.

Mike Walker, the DLNR state protection forester said, “We are totally supportive of the PTA building wildland firefighting capacity with community partners. Having people trained across west Hawaii at the same level as our firefighters will shorten response times, improve initial attack and potentially contain some fires before they impact communities or state lands under our jurisdiction.”

Reflecting on the Mana Road fire, Capt. Ben Grodjesk, the PTA wildfire program manager said the volunteers were vital in helping cover duty hours to give DLNR and county firefighters down time to rest.

“Their contributions and having the same basic initial training absolutely makes for a more effective and safer firefighting response,” he said.

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