Training FAQ

How do I become a Wildland Firefighter?

The first thing you need to do is to become associated with an organization that can sponsor your training and certifications. Due to liabilities involved, we do not train or certify individuals in wildland firefighting. Once you have joined an organization, you can begin training to become a qualified firefighter. You need to follow your organizations guidelines and SOP’s for training and qualifications. Online training is available for no cost to the participant or agency. Online training venues have improved greatly the last 5 years. You will see most training, especially at the lower levels, be either online, or a combination of online and classroom trainings.

Where do I find the online training courses?

Online courses can be found at:

What is the Work Capacity Test?

Work Capacity Tests are used to ensure that persons assigned to fire activities are physically capable of performing the duties of the job. Once you have completed your basic classes, you will then meet the training requirements as a Firefighter Type 2 (FFT2). You then need to complete the Work Capacity Test to finish the process. The current Work Capacity Test that SDWF accepts is only the pack test.

WARNING: Individuals who have not been involved in regular physical activity are at an elevated risk for cardiovascular complications during exertion. They should not begin training for a work capacity test until they have participated in a gradual transition from inactivity to regular physical activity. Previously sedentary individuals should engage in 4 or more weeks of moderate activity (walking 30 to 60 minutes, 3 to 5 days per week) before they begin more vigorous training for a test or the job.

How does my department get into IQS?

The Incident Qualification System (IQS) is a software program that allows the user to track incident qualifications, experience, tasks books and fitness levels for individuals within various organizational levels throughout your agency. IQS also allows the user to analyze the organizations training needs and schedule training based upon the agency needs for incident management personnel. The system is managed by SDWF through agreements with the National Association of State Foresters (NASF). You need to contact the SDWF Training Officer to set up training, username and password for the system.

Where do I find the NWCG Standards, training information, task books, other NWCG training?

Training material can be found here:

What components are required for RT-130 Annual Fireline Safety Refresher Training?

All wildland fire personnel who may be on or near the fire line during any wildland fire incident. This includes, but is not limited to, fire suppression, prescribed fire, visits to the fire area, or any other contacts with live fire. These guidelines are for all personnel who fall under an agreement with the State of South Dakota, Department of Agriculture, Wildland Fire Division. This includes all State agencies, county agencies, paid or volunteer firefighters, equipment operators, media, or any other personnel who are trained, certified, or have a contract to perform services during any fire event for the Division.

The training shall be held annually by all agencies as per NWCG guidelines for Wildland Fire Refresher training (RT-130) as outlined in this policy. For those agencies who submit Incident Qualification Cards, the RT-130 shall be done prior to the submission of the cards for review by the Division.

All personnel listed above are required to complete refresher training that, at a minimum, covers the following topics:

- Entrapment Avoidance

    Use training and reference materials to study the risk management process (as identified in the Incident Response Pocket Guide) and rules of engagement (as appropriate to the participants, e.g., LCES, Standard Firefighting Orders, Eighteen Watch Out Situations, WFSA direction, Fire Management Plan priorities, etc.)

- Current Issues
    Review and discuss identified hot topics and national emphasis topics as found on the current WFSTAR website. Review forecasts and assessments for the upcoming fire season and discuss implications for firefighter safety.

- Fire Shelter
    Review and discuss last resort survival. Conduct hands on fire shelter inspections. Practice shelter deployments in applicable crew/module configurations while wearing typical fire line personal protective equipment. When possible, practice shelter deployments should be conducted in rough terrain and windy conditions. No live fire exercises for the purpose of fire shelter deployment training will be conducted.

- Other Hazards and Safety Issues
    Choose additional hazard and safety subjects, such as SAFENET, current safety alerts, or site/unit specific safety issues and hazards.

- Communications
    All new communication changes shall be identified for fire line personnel who may have reason to have radio communications on the fire ground. This shall include, but not be limited to, frequency changes, new radio utilization, new tower or repeater access, and any other communications issues that may affect firefighter safety.

How do I host a NWCG Course?

The NWCG training curriculum is developed and supported in such a way that makes putting on a class relatively easy. To ensure the course will be recognized as an NWCG certified course it is essential that all cooperators work with the SDWF Training Officer.

An organization desiring to put on a course should first determine whether there really is a need for the course. If your organization does not have a training plan tied to individual development goals, now would be a good time to start one. This will answer many of your questions regarding who needs training and when they need the training.

The second question you need to answer is whether the course you are considering is already offered somewhere else locally. A good place to start in answering this question is to ask someone knowledgeable about fire training within the local fire coordinating area, such as a representative from SDWF, or local federal agencies. NWCG courses are designed under the following guidelines:

    - Lower level courses such as S-130, Firefighter Training and other 100- and 200-level courses are designed to be presented locally.

    - Midlevel courses such as S-330, Task Force/Strike Team Leader and other 300- and 400-level course are usually put on at the Geographic Level.

    - Advanced level courses (500 and 600) are typically conducted at the National Advanced Fire and Resource Institute.

If you determine there is a local need to put on a course there are a number of tasks that must be completed prior to the training course. Some of these tasks, like instructor selection, are critical if an organization wants the course to be recognized as an NWCG certified course. Work with the SDWF Training Officer and that person can make sure that all requirements are met. Proper planning is critical for successful course presentation. Allowing one year in advance of the event in order to prevent missing essential details is a good reference.

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