West Nebraska Engine Academy

West Nebraska Engine Academy


Every September, hundreds of firefighters converge on the Wildcat Hills south of Gering, Nebraska to participate in a live fire exercise. The West Nebraska Engine Academy is one of a kind training opportunity for firefighters wanting to advanced through specific positions. The overall objective of the academy is to create opportunities for firefighters to further develop their skills in a safe live fire exercise while reducing fuels and creating healthier eco system in the Wildcat Hills.

This exercise operates as a Type 3 Incident and is supported with a full Incident Command Team through partnerships and Interagency cooperation. The exercise runs 3 operational periods with the options to double operation periods if there becomes a need. Each day the Incident Management Team releases an Incident Action Plan and briefs firefighting forces on the overall objectives.

Firefighters are immersing in a learning and evaluation environment through appropriate supervisory roles. Each day firefighters can serve in various areas including fire suppression, Ignition Operations, Structure Triage and Structure Protection, Water Handling, and gaining experience working with aerial resources.

The unique component of the Academy is multiple types of aerial resources are available for firefighters to use for suppression or reconnaissance operations. In recent years the Academy hosted in fixed wing and rotor wing air assets with various firefighting capabilities. Firefighters are able to communicate directly with aircraft on performance of water operations and learn how each type can assist with suppression efforts. “Boots on the ground” develop a better situational awareness and gain knowledge so in the event they need air assets they understand the expectations.

Through support from the Gering Fire Department, Nebraska Emergency Management, Nebraska Fire Marshal, Nebraska Forest Service, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, US Forest Service and countless fire departments in the area the West Nebraska Engine Academy has been a valuable and unique exercise open to any all firefighters.



WNEA accepts all types of registrations. The main objective of the academy is to create opportunities for firefighters to further develop their skills. Through Interagency cooperation a Incident Management Team is formed to support the needs of the firefighters on the ground. Qualified evaluators on all levels attend to support trainees during live fire operations. Over the course of the academy, the IMT develops an Incident Action Plan and briefs the entire organization every morning. This exercise is as close to a real large scale incident.  

WNEA is a successful training opportunity for any firefighter. As long as the fire department or sponsoring agency registers the attendee, any and all are welcome to attend. If an individual is registering to participate in a positions specific role (i.e. Engine Boss, Task Force Leader, Firing Boss), that individual must have a current NWCG Qualification Card (Red Card) and a Task Book opened. The academy has supported and has given the opportunity for many Nebraska firefighters to be evaluated and gain signatures in their task books.

Incident Management Team: Deadline June 15th

We are always accepting qualified evaluators and individuals that wish to be a part of the Incident Management Team. The IMT is committed to creating the entire IAP over the course of 3 days. Working with other trainee’s and evaluators, individuals will serve in the position specific role supporting the operation on the ground. Beginning in July, the IMT works together remotely to determine the operational objectives for the academy. Commitment is minimal until the actual event. IMT meets Friday to begin the management process. If you are interested in serving on the Incident Management Team follow this link or download the “IMT Registration Form” below and email it to firedept@gering.org


Attendee/Participant/Trainee: Deadline September 1st

While the academy focuses a lot on wildland engines, WNEA offers many opportunities for firefighters to gain knowledge and skills. Firing Operations, Suppression, Aerial Suppression, Structure Triage, Water Handling, Heavy Equipment, and Felling is just a few areas firefighters will work together during the weekend. Not all registrants must be “Red carded”, however if you are attending to be evaluated in a specific position, you must have your qualification card and open task book. It is completely acceptable to attend without any qualifications. To register for as an attendee please use the following link or download the “Registration Form” below and email it to firedept@gering.org.