Upper Pine firefighters were in the midst of mandatory annual skills tests this week. Shown here in the vacant lot across the street from the fire administration building Monday afternoon, they are practicing packing and deploying wildfire survival shelters. Josh Schmidt operated a blower to simulate high wind conditions while Cate Harding unfurled the mock shelter, wrapped it around her and dropped to the ground.
Then a Care Flight helicopter from Mercy Medical Center landed in the field to give firefighters a refresher on safety, such as approaching the helicopter and loading a patient. Upper Pine Fire Chief Bruce Evans said helicopter responses are "a high risk, low frequency event for firefighters."
On Monday morning, firefighters did pack tests at the Bayfield High School track. They had to do three miles (12 laps) in 45 minutes while carrying a 45-pound pack.