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July 17, 2008
By Patrick McDonnell
Having the experience of responding to more than 17,000 calls for service during his firefighting career makes Chief Jim Powell an exceptionally prepared teacher.
Fire & Rescue magazine recently recognized the adjunct instructor at the University’s Fire Science Academy as one of the best fire instructors in the world, kicking off a series of published instructor profiles with a feature on Powell, who lives in Carson City, Nev. The academy, based in Carlin, Nev., hired Powell in 2001, and he has been teaching Incident Command Emergency Response courses throughout the decade.
“We try to create as many situations in the classroom as we can so the students will be able to handle real-life emergencies,” said Powell, now teaching mostly to the private sector after working for the Carson City Fire Department from 1969 to 1997.
During his tenure at the Fire Science Academy, Powell became Nevada’s first Master Fire Science Instructor. He is passionate about equipping incident commanders with all the tools he can to ensure the best possible outcome when a major fire occurs.
“Incident commanders have to learn how to use human resources more judiciously and tactically,” he said of firefighting scenarios where reinforcements may be hours away. “For example, let’s say an incident commander has a limited amount of human resources. If they then go great guns and lose all the gains they’ve made temporarily against the fire, it puts them in the position where they have to wait until the cavalry arrives. They have to be smart in how they deploy their resources.”
The Fire Science Academy, with its 426-acre campus in eastern Nevada, offers state-of-the-art emergency response and training facilities to the petrochemical, aviation, mining, technology, transportation and hospitality industries as well as to municipal, county, state, federal and international agencies and governments.