Fire stories from the national parks highlight events, incidents, and the like, associated with fire and fuels management, as well as fire education, technology, partnerships, and more. Stories highlight work related to Department of the Interior initiatives as well as local and regional initiatives.
Park Provides Wildland Fire Training to Local Volunteer Firefighters
Ozark National Scenic Riverways
Cohesive Strategy—Response to Wildfire*
In 2011, the fire management staff from the Missouri Area Park Group, located at Ozark National Scenic Riverways, worked to help local communities improve their ability to deal with wildfires. Efforts were taken to strengthen the partnerships with local volunteer fire departments (VFDs) that provide structural and wildland fire support for Ozark National Scenic Riverways. As part of these efforts, the Fire Communication and Education Specialist met or spoke with the chiefs of 11 local VFDs in order to renew their Memorandums of Understanding with the park and to discuss their concerns and needs related to wildland fire.
Nearly all of the departments that provide support to Ozark National Scenic Riverways are staffed by volunteers and receive minimal funding aside from voluntary dues paid by local residents. A number of those departments had received grants through the Rural Fire Assistance program in the past and expressed disappointment that the program was no longer being funded. In addition to the need for better equipment for wildfire responses, many of the fire chiefs expressed a need for training that is affordable and scheduled so that the volunteer firefighters can easily take advantage of it. Many felt that their firefighters could benefit greatly from basic wildland firefighter training.
The staff from the Missouri Area Park Group decided to provide S-130 (Firefighter Training) and S-190 (Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior) training to the local VFDs through a combination of online coursework and field day training sessions. The Fire Communication and Education Specialist coordinated the training, providing guidance to firefighters on the completion of online coursework and tracking individual completion of all required training modules. Two local departments â?? one in the northern district of the park and one in the southern district - scheduled evening and weekend training sessions to help volunteer firefighters complete the online coursework for S-130 and S-190. Online courses were completed by 46 firefighters from nine volunteer fire departments.
Upon completion of the online coursework, each firefighter was required to attend a field day training session in order to receive a certificate of completion for S-130 and S-190. Three field day training sessions were scheduled to allow volunteers several options for attendance. A total of 36 volunteer firefighters attended the field day sessions. In addition to volunteer firefighters, five NPS employees and four local college students completed all required coursework and training, which will also assist the NPS response to wildfires.
Throughout the field day training sessions, the local volunteer firefighters repeatedly expressed their gratitude at the willingness of NPS staff members to coordinate the training and to provide the field day sessions on Saturdays. Many felt that getting to know the NPS staff personally and having the opportunity to learn about NPS tactics in response to wildfires would greatly enhance cooperation during future wildfire responses.
Contact: Dena Matteson, Fire Communication and Education Specialist
Phone: (573) 323-8028