New wildland firefighters spent holiday weekend building skills

While many Alaskans enjoyed a relaxing Memorial Day weekend, 53 wildland firefighters-in-training were getting hands-on field experience at the Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry’s Fire Field Day. 

  • People walking through woods in a line.
  • Man connecting fire hose.
  • Four men in fire gear with chainsaws
  • Group standing in a circle around a drip torch.
  • People standing watching a man starting a water pump.
  • People in yellow hard hats carrying a man on a stretcher through the woods.
  • People getting yellow hardhats and gloves from a table.
  • People standing under a yellow tarp

The Fairbanks Area Forestry staff organized and hosted the event, with assistance from the White Mountain Type 2 Initial Attack Crew.  It capped a week of training and testing and included demonstrations and simulations, with opportunities for hands-on learning. 

The hands-on skill building included learning how to unroll, roll, and connect fireline hose and operate pumps; how to conduct a grid search for hot spots in burned areas; how to work safely around saw operators felling trees; how to use drip torches; and how to respond to medical emergencies in the field.  The trainees were able to examine and explore a fire truck, a helicopter used for firefighting, and a crash rescue boat.  They also learned how to set up a wildland fire camp so they have a place to eat and sleep after a long day of firefighting.

“The simulation really helps them build crew cohesion,” said Tony Peterson, a DOF Wildfire and Resource Technician and one of the organizers of the event.

In addition to those who are new to firefighting, participants included local structural firefighters learning the skills needed for wildland firefighting.

After passing written and work capacity tests, the newly qualified firefighters are given Incident Qualification cards – also known as Red Cards – and are ready to be hired for wildland firefighting as well as various support roles.

A reminder:  The Northern Forestry office will hold its final Fire Refresher of the season for firefighters this evening (Tuesday, May 31) at 6 p.m. via Zoom.  For the Zoom link call (907) 451-2600.  The final firefighter Work Capacity Test of the season will take place on Saturday, June 4, at 9 a.m. at the Alaska Division of Forestry, 3700 Airport Way, Fairbanks.

Categories: Active Wildland Fire, AK Fire Info, Alaska DNR - Division of Forestry (DOF)

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