The Austin Fire Department is now nationally certified to fight wildfires.
On Friday, more than 1,000 AFD firefighters finished a 40-hour course and nearly two and a half months of hands-on training. The certification makes AFD the first department of its size to certify all of its firefighters.
The Texas Forest Service partnered in making the certification happen. It says city fire departments are seeing the need to train beyond fighting structure fires.
“As municipalities continue to expand out into the urban areas, you’re getting more and more wildland urban interface,” Nathan Decker with the Texas Forest Service said. “It seems like this year, half of the fires that we got that we’re large fires tended to target cities.”
AFD officials said that while the certification has been in the works for a couple of years, last year's devastating Labor Day wildfires sped up the process.