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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.  This could include our volunteer fire departments, search and rescue, or other service organizations.  Due to liabilities involved, the SD Wildland Fire Division does not train or certify individuals in wildland firefighting that are not an employee. 

Once you have joined an organization, you can begin training to become a qualified firefighter.  All organizations must adhere to, at minimum, the state's guidelines for training and qualifications which is the National Wildfire Coordinating Group's (NWCG) Wildland Fire Qualification System Guide (PMS 310-1).  Organizations reserve the right to go above and beyond these minimum standards and you must adhere to those presented.

NWCG PMS 310-1:  https://www.nwcg.gov/sites/default/files/publications/pms310-1.pdf

 

At the very least, to become a beginner wildland firefighter (Firefighter Type 2), you must have the following classes:

  • S130 - Firefighter Training
  • S190 - Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior
  • L180 - Human Factors in the Wildland Fire Service
  • ICS-100 - Introduction to the Incident Command System
  • IS-700 - Introduction to the National Incident Management System

You must also pass the arduous work capacity test, more information can be found here about the test.

Once you have completed your initial training you must complete an annual fire refresher training (RT-130) and work capacity test every year after that.

Where do I find the online training courses?

Online training is available for no cost to the participant or agency. 

Online NWCG training can be found at:  https://wildlandfirelearningportal.net.  This website includes online, blended (a mix of classroom and online training), and course pre-work.   

*Please note that if you take the online S130-Firefighter Training course you will need to have an authorized organization give your field day before you can become certified.

SD Wildland Fire does not accept the online S290 course for use in obtaining your single resource task book; it must be taken in person.

Online FEMA training (ICS courses) can be found at:  https://training.fema.gov/nims/.  Simply search for the course needed and complete the training. Some ICS courses such as ICS300 and ICS400 can only be taken in the classroom and South Dakota's Office of Emergency Management hosts these classes.  Please see their Training Calendar (https://dps.sd.gov/emergency-services/emergency-management/events) for the next available class opportunities.  

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.

Required Forms:

Health Screening Questionnaire  (attached as WCT-HSQ.pdf)

Informed Consent Form (attached as WCT Informed Consent)

Work Capacity Test Data Sheet - Collects results for group/great for record keeping. (attached as WCT Data Sheet)

 

Other Helpful Forms:

Timing/Lap Sheet - Helps the timer keep track of laps and how people are doing on time each lap.  (attached as Timing_Lap Sheet_Regular)

Work Capacity Test Record - Document for certifying that an individual has taken the work capacity test. (attached as WCT - Certification record)

A record of the work capacity test should be kept on file until a new test is taken the next year.


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: https://www.nwcg.gov/

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

RT-130 is required for designated positions in order to maintain currency, for all personnel assigned to positions with fireline duties, and for any position assigned to the fireline for non-suppression task.  Positions that require the RT-130 are outlined in the PMS 310-1.

Firefighters who receive initial fire training are not required to take RT-130 in the same calendar year. All others must complete the training annually as it is valid for one year from date of attendance.

The Lead Instructor must be minimally qualified as a Single Resource Boss, while a unit instructor must be minimally qualified as a Firefighter Type 1.  Adjunct instructors may be utilized to provide limited instruction in specialized knowledge and skills at the discretion of the lead instructor.

At minimum, the RT130 training must be four hours long and cover the following topics:

  • Local Topics – Review and discuss local topics and areas of concern that impact firefighter safety in the upcoming fire season.
  • Incident Reviews and Lessons Learned – Review and discuss lessons learned from past local, regional, and national incident response.
  • Fire and Aviation Operational Safety – Review and discuss the risk management principles and tools that promote safe and effective incident operations. Utilize the appropriate sections of the IRPG.
  • Human Factors, Communication and Decision Making – Discuss the complexity of human factors, their impact on communications and decision making.
  • Fire Shelters and Entrapment Avoidance – Review and discuss shelter use, deployment site selection, shelter inpsections, personal protective equipment, and practice proper deployment techniques.

 

The WFSTAR website is a great resource for material on RT130:https://www.nwcg.gov/publications/training-courses/rt-130.

Each agency/fire department is responsible for ensuring the RT130 is obtained.SDWF will host at least RT130 sessions each spring that are open to all agencies.Otherwise, agencies/fire departments may conduct training in house or may participate with another agency/fire department if the instructor’s meet the minimum requirements stated above.


- 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?

SDWF adheres strictly to the NWCG training curriculum laid out in the Field Manager's Course Guide (PMS 901-1).  Any course not adhering to these standards will be considered null and void, with students having to retake the course for credit.  With that these course are 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 Specialist.

PMS 901-1:  https://www.nwcg.gov/sites/default/files/publications/pms901-1.pdf


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 Specialist and that person can make sure that all requirements are met. Proper planning is critical for successful course presentation. Allowing six months in advance of the event in order to prevent missing essential details is a good reference.
 

For Questions, concerns, or comments regarding training, please contact:

Tamara Dierks
Training and Aviation Program Manager
Office: 605.393.4229
Fax: 605.393.8044
tamara.dierks@state.sd.us
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