KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The annual Tennessee Wildland Fire Academy had to cancel their two week event this year because of the government shutdown.
The academy is held in Bell Buckle, Tenn. each year, offering specialty training and allowing fire officials to gain certain certificates.
"We were forced to shut it down because the cost of maintaining the academy was unsustainable, Tim Phelps, the Public Information Officer for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture's Division of Forestry, said. "Canceling an event like that is a setback. Folks that can't attend that academy have to look elsewhere to get that training or wait another year."
"It's frustrating to do that," Nathan Waters, the Assistant District Forester in East Tennessee, said.
Nathan Waters said the academy provides vital education and experience.
"It's important to have the fire academy. There are some classes for some positions that you are trying to get to become a qualified instructor," Waters said.
The academy is held in Bell Buckle, Tennessee and officials said the central location makes it a popular place to get certifications.
"These courses are very much in demand and when you have to skip a year you might have to start over to get to a certain position," Phelps said.
Tim Phelps was supposed to teach a class in fire prevention at the academy.
"Since we haven't had that course, we have 30 less people trained in fire prevention nationally," Phelps said.
Officials said East Tennessee firefighters all have the proper training to do their jobs, the academy just provides the opportunity to obtain higher qualifications in the field.
"It will be missed, but it's something that should be made up in the years to come," Nathan Waters said.
"We were forced to shut it down because the cost of maintaining the academy was unsustainable," Phelps said.
Tennessee Forestry officials wanted to stress that this cancellation of the fire academy isn't hindering anyone from doing their job efficiently in East Tennessee, it's just a lost opportunity to gain other qualifications.