Federal Alaska Emergency Firefighter requirements adjusted for 2020 season

Because the BLM Alaska Fire Service remains focused on the safety and well-being of our employees and the public, preparedness regarding medical, physical and training requirements for Alaska federal (BLM) Emergency Firefighters (EFF) were adjusted for the 2020 fire year due to the threat of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) . The adjustments were made to the medical clearance, Work Capacity Test (WCT) and RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR).

The national Fire Management Board (FMB) carefully analyzed the risk of responder exposure to COVID-19 in relationship to the need to evaluate the medical, physical, and training requirements of wildland firefighters as part of annual fire management preparedness.

For all Alaska Federal (BLM) EFF responders who were previously Qualified or Qualified with Risk Mitigation or Waiver for arduous duty in 2019 (medically qualified): 

  • You must still complete the required “Self-Certification” through the CHS (Comprehensive Health Services) EAS portal. Instructions were emailed to every EFF responder who has provided a valid email address.
  • Work Capacity Tests (WCTs) are suspended for 2020. All EFF responders who have completed the medical “Self-Certification” process will be given a WCT rating equivalent to the previously attained 2019 level (light, moderate or arduous). IQCS account managers will include appropriate documentation in the employees training record.
  • RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher is suspended for 2020: Employees who have not completed RT-130 to date will be awarded the RT-130 competency. The competency will be awarded from their current expiration date identified in IQCS. This action will be implemented nationally through the agency’s National Training Officer.

The following actions are recommended in lieu of the formal RT-130 training:

All non-qualified determinations will be required to follow the standard risk mitigation/waiver/review process.

These exceptions apply to all Administratively Determined (AD) employees as well as applicable crew, water handling (engines and water tenders), and equipment contracts and agreements.

For all Alaska Federal (BLM) EFF responders who were NOT previously Qualified or Qualified with Risk Mitigation or Waiver for arduous duty in 2019 (not medically qualified):

Given the current COVID-19 pandemic quarantine, travel limitations and current response processes that are on-going, the BLM Alaska Fire Service zones will not be facilitating, nor will be requiring our training providers/partners (Tanana Chiefs Conference and Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments), to facilitate any Work Capacity Tests or Fireline Safety Refresher training this spring.

Background: The facilitation of any RT-130 or WCT sessions would require the BLM or our training partners to travel into remote village locations. Based on the current situation and guidance related to COVID-19, the goal is to reduce impact and exposure to our employees, including all EFF responders, their families and other residents within these villages while maintaining our ability to respond to incidents and carry out mission critical wildland fire activities.

BLM Alaska Fire Service • Emergency Firefighter Program

907-356-5611 • EFF Program Fax: 907-356-5609 •  Toll Free Phone Number: 1-833-532-8810

About BLM Alaska Fire Service

The Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service (AFS) located at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, provides wildland fire suppression services for over 244 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 a $10 million 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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