The Delaware Forest Service is seeking new recruits for its wildfire training classes at the Delaware State Fire School in Dover. No experience is needed. Candidates should be over 18, physically fit and motivated to learn. Trainees should also be willing to travel for at least two weeks, usually during the summer, for out-of-state fire assignments. Classes can help earn red-card certification from the National Wildfire Coordinating Group to serve on Delaware's wildfire crew. This year, Delaware dispatched a crew that battled blazes in the Rocky Mountain region of western Colorado.
This year's training will take place over two separate weekends. Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior and Firefighter Training will be 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 21 and 22, with lunch included. The Firefighter Training second session will be 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 4 and 5, with lunch included. Each session costs $50. Students must complete ICS-100 (available online) before classes begin.
Applicants should register by Monday, Oct. 16. To register, call the Delaware State Fire School at 302-739-4773, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.statefireschool.delaware.gov. For more information for those with no prior experience, contact Kyle Hoyd, Delaware's assistant state forester, at 302-698-4548 or email@example.com.
In addition to the basic coursework, candidates must also complete an arduous work capacity or pack test, which involves carrying a 45-pound pack over a three-mile course in less than 45 minutes.
The capstone of the Delaware Forest Service's annual wildfire training is its annual fire camp at Redden State Forest in Georgetown, Sussex County. Held in April, the intensive one-day seminar includes hands-on training across a range of wildland firefighting tools and strategies, culminating in a live-burn exercise designed to simulate conditions on an actual fire assignment.
The need for qualified personnel is as important as ever. This summer, wildfires pushed the National Preparedness Level to its maximum of 5 on a 5-point scale. Delaware has been mobilizing crews and individual resources to serve on out-of-state assignment since the late 1990s. Delaware firefighters have traveled to fires in many states: Alaska, California, Georgia, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.
The First State has also sent personnel to aid in national or regional emergencies, such as hurricane relief efforts in Florida in 2004 and New York in 2011. Trained and dispatched by the Delaware Department of Agriculture's Forest Service, wildfire crews are composed of men and women of varying ages and backgrounds who represent a mix of public agencies, nonprofit groups, volunteer fire companies, and private citizens, all with an interest in firefighting and a desire to help their communities.
Despite its small size, Delaware has earned an outstanding reputation on the national firefighting scene and was honored by Gov. John Carney at the Delaware State Fair in July.