Before fire season, there is training season

April 7, 2015 11:45 a.m.

The majority of Firefighters in the BLM Alaska Fire Service are either career seasonal or temporary workers. After fire season, they pack up and leave for different parts of the world: a word about those travels in a later blog post. They return each year fresh from their time off and prepared for the new fire season…well, almost. Before firefighters step into the vast Alaska landscape to engage wildland fires, they must train.

The training season begins as early as February and continues through May. Firefighters and other BLM AFS personnel conduct training in myriad subjects including: Fireline leadership, wilderness first aid, fireline safety, HAZMAT (Hazardous Material) transportation, portable fuel site establishment, radio procedures, dispatch operations, helicopter crew operations, driver training and smokejumper refresher.

BLM AFS also conducts training for veteran and new Emergency Firefighter (EFF) crew members from 26 villages in Alaska. The 2015 Alaska Interagency Crew Boss Academy is scheduled to run from May 3 through May 18. Most of the training will take place on the Alaska Fire Service Training Campus on Fort Wainwright, AK. The Academy has served as the training ground for Alaska EFF Fire Crew Bosses for over 30 years. The EFF Rookie Firefighter Academy is scheduled from May 5-16 in Fairbanks. Candidates must be 18 years of age to fight wildland fires.

In addition to classroom and field training, firefighters and others add physical fitness to the schedule. Firefighting is arduous work under very stressful conditions. Physical fitness is extremely important for firefighters and support workers. Physical fitness training is ongoing and the training will conclude with physical fitness tests and equipment pack test to verify the stamina of firefighters. Firefighters are required to complete a three mile walk in 45 minutes while carrying 45 pounds.

“Training is a major part of what we do prior to the start of fire season. Building relationships, good teamwork and skill development ensures the safety of firefighters and the public during wildland fire operations,” says Doug Gibbs, Chief of the Fire Training Section for BLM AFS.

For more information on specific training contact the individual points of contact:

EFF Rookie training (May 5-16): 907-356-5627

Crew Boss Academy (May 3-19): 907-356-5634

EFF pack test/Safety refresher:

• Galena Zone, 907-356-5627
• Tanana Zone, Contact your local village council
• Upper Yukon Zone, 907-356-5550, 907-322-2004

sprinkler training

About afsakfireinfo

The Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service (AFS) located at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, provides wildland fire suppression services for over 240 million acres of Department of the Interior and Native Corporation Lands in Alaska. In addition, AFS has other statewide responsibilities that include: interpretation of fire management policy; oversight of the BLM Alaska Aviation program; fuels management projects; and operating and maintaining advanced communication and computer systems such as the Alaska Lightning Detection System. AFS also maintains a National Incident Support Cache with over $15 million in inventory. The Alaska Fire Service provides wildland fire suppression services for America’s “Last Frontier” on an interagency basis with the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources, USDA Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Military in Alaska.

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