With wildland fires occurring throughout the United States and Canada, IAFF members are more and more likely to work wildfires at some point in their career.
“Increasingly, our members are responding to wildland urban interface fires, even though many are only trained in structural firefighting,” says General President Harold Schaitberger. “That’s why we have created a new urban interface training course — Responding to the Interface.”
Delegates at the 2016 IAFF Convention passed Resolution 50 to develop a nationally recognized WUI training program that provides critical urban interface firefighting skills that structural fire fighters need for safe and effective wildland firefighting.
Randy Denzer, a member of Austin, TX Local 975, says, “Because the tactics used to fight structural fires and wildland fires are so different, fire fighters are responding to these fires with no prior training. There was a real need to develop this program.”
The IAFF Responding to the Interface training includes 10 online modules, one day of classroom review and testing and one day of hands-on field instruction. Already, beta classes have been held in San Antonio, Texas; Round Rock, Texas; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Lewiston, Maine.
“Operational readiness is critical, so it is important to practice in the same conditions in which they will be responding,” says Phill Veneris, an instructor and member of CAL FIRE Local 2881. The beta classes were given instruction in preparation, triage, engine operations and safety.
As this training becomes more widely available, the hope is that the curriculum will become the national standard for training structural fire fighters to respond in a WUI environment. “The NFPA standard will provide operating procedures for structural fire fighters who are called out to these fires,” says Justin White, a member of Colorado Springs, CO Local 5 who worked to develop the online training. “They will know what to do and be able to effectively communicate and work with other agencies on scene.”
The program is federally funded; therefore, the IAFF can provide the training at no cost to fire departments. For more information, contact the Wildland Fire Fighting Safety and Response Department at (202) 824-1631.