Fire Council Board Approves Updated Qualification Guideline!
Jim Elleson, WPFC Implementation and Standards Committee Chair
At its November 10 meeting the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Prescribed Fire Council approved the updated “Recommended Qualifications for Prescribed Fire Personnel”.
This was a long-awaited update to the Council’s original training standard, which was approved in 2006. That standard, developed in the early days of the Fire Council, represented a consensus among agency representatives, private sector, and non-profit organizations regarding training requirements for prescribed fire crew members, line bosses, and burn bosses. It articulated our two-track approach, which endorsed two alternative sets of prescribed fire crew training requirements: self-regulation according to Council standards, or compliance with National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) requirements. It included a curriculum outline for basic crew member training, and recommended experience for each participation level. It also provided general training requirements for line bosses and burn bosses.
Over the years there were several proposed updates to the 2006 standard, but there was not a consensus within the Council to move them forward. In 2019, the Standards Committee again picked up the task, beginning with establishing our fundamental goals and objectives.
We agreed that many organizations conducting prescribed burns, and individuals seeking to become qualified, cannot practically follow the NWCG system for qualifying prescribed fire personnel. The Fire Council can help get more fire on the ground safely by promoting a set of qualifications that is responsible and achievable for prescribed burners in Wisconsin.
The updated guideline provides the minimum recommended standard for training and experience for prescribed fire crew members, line bosses and burn bosses. It is not intended to supplant or preempt the NWCG qualification standards, but to provide a parallel track for those for whom it is appropriate.
Adherence to this guideline is voluntary. Ultimately, the entity responsible for a given prescribed burn determines who is qualified to participate in the burn.
The Implementation and Standards Committee is currently working on developing a Training Brief for Crew Member Trainees, and on updating our basic Crew Member training outline. Anyone interested in helping craft this guidance for Wisconsin prescribed burners can contact Jim Elleson at jim@quercus-LS.com.