The Basic Wildland Firefighter Academy for December 2015 is now full.

The Orianne Society (TOS), Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and The Longleaf Alliance (LLA) will be holding a Basic Wildland Firefighter Academy on December 14-18 at Altama Plantation in Glynn County, located 5.4 miles East of Sterling, GA on Highway 99 adjacent to the Exit 42 ramp on I-95. This involves taking four National Wildland Coordinating Group (NWCG) classes online ahead of time as well as four days of hands-on instruction at Altama. Your cadre will be provided by TOS, Georgia DNR, TNC and LLA. We will send out more detailed directions the first week of December.

Please plan on arriving by early evening on Monday, December 14, for registration and room assignments. Class will begin promptly at 8:00am on Tuesday, December 15. We would rather have everyone stay onsite, but if you prefer to commute back and forth, please let us know prior to class. The facilities are newly-acquired and will not be furnished by the training dates. Please be prepared to bring a sleeping bag, linens and/or an air mattress. We will cap the number of students to 20. Days will run long, so plan on being engaged in training for most of the days. We also require that people taking this course will assist with at least two burns within a year of the course with more preferred.

This Academy incorporates online training and hands-on field experience. The pre-coursework must be completed before you come to class. These classes include two firefighting courses (S130 and S190) and two Incident Command courses (I100 and IS700). Be aware that this course is designed to train basic wildland firefighters. NWCG sets the standards for the course. You may find the material a bit repetitive at times and a little light on examples from the Southeast and prescribed burning. This is the basic information that all Firefighter Type 2s across the country are taught in order to safely work in the fire environment.

To complete your pre-coursework, go to the web using Internet Explorer. Scroll down and look for links under Click to Start Course or NWCG Online Training or Interactive Web-Based Course.

I-100 Intro to the Incident Command System (2006) [2hrs]

S-130 Firefighter Training (2008) [30hrs]

S-190 Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior (2006) [8hrs]

I-700 NIMS an Introduction (2010) [3hrs]

Brannon Knight, TOS Stewardship Coordinator, is your course administrator. There are a couple of courses where you will be directed to NFA Online and will need to register as a new student and set up a username and password. You will receive an Incident Response Command Pocket Guide (IRPG) at our class, so don’t worry about trying to print it beforehand. If you have already taken a course, you do not have to retake it, just make sure you bring your certificates with you so we can give you credit.

Make sure you print the certificates at the end of each module. That’s your only proof of taking it! There should be around a dozen certificates by the end. If you have less than that, you’ve missed some. Plan enough time for each module because once you start one, you have to stick with it to the end. If you have any lapse in time (i.e. leave your computer idle too long or lose internet connection), you will have to start that entire module over again. We have found that a computer with a fast, reliable internet connection is key. Some students claim they completed all courses in less than 20 hours, while others insist that it took more than 50. The online portion can take a significant amount of time depending on your internet connection and potential problems registering, so please start well ahead of the class to ensure a rewarding learning experience!

The Academy at Altama Plantation will consist of some classroom work and lots of outdoor exercises. A course agenda will be provided at a later date. You will wear your Nomex for the whole class. Bring work-out clothes and comfortable shoes for the pack-test. Live fire exercises are planned, weather permitting. Full PPE (personal protection equipment) is required for each student. This includes 8’’ lace-up leather boots, Nomex shirt/pants, helmet, goggles or safety glasses, leather gloves and fire shelter. (Make sure you wear all natural undergarments, such as cotton or wool, during fire exercises.) We will have some fire shelters and Nomex coveralls on loan for the class if you are not issued one beforehand.

All students are expected to take the pack test. Arduous is recommended (walk carrying 45 pounds for three miles in under 45 minutes), but moderate will be accepted (walk carrying 25 pounds for two miles in under 30 minutes). We will be taking the pack test on a local track. Filling out a pre-screening medical form, the Health Screening Questionnaire, is required. Note that comfortable athletic shoes are imperative for a pleasant pack test experience—please do NOT wear your fire boots no matter how proud you are of them!

Cost for the course will only be $25.00 for course materials (IRPG, pens, paper and handouts) and one meal. If you do not have all the PPE, it will be provided. There will be ample opportunities to burn on state, federal and private lands with us. Our mission is to restore habitat for rare species such as Gopher Tortoises and Indigo Snakes. Therefore, when you join us on a burn, you not only gain valuable experience and keep your fire skills honed, but you’re helping conservation, as well!

To register, please email me at bknight@oriannesociety.org with your name and contact information if you want to attend the class before December 1, 2015.

WHAT TO BRING

All course materials as well as pens and papers will be provided and price includes lodging. This is a new facility, and will not be furnished before the training dates. Please bring your own bedding (no beds available, we suggest bringing a cot or blow-up mattress, pillow, linens, and blankets) and your favorite camp chair.

We will have tables and chairs for classroom courses, but that is all. All cabins have heat and air, cold and hot water, and most have refrigerators and stoves. Please bring snacks, drinks, water bottle, coffee cup and food for meals each day. Once training is done for the day, students will be released and can have supper in town if they choose to do so. We will plan on cooking one night and watching NOVA Fire Wars as a group for supper.

There will be several written exams and evaluated practical activities. Successful completion of the class and the arduous pack test will result in a certificate for the course and will qualify you for a red card for FFT2, which is the nationally-recognized designation for basic wildland firefighters.

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