Friday, May 21, 2010

Training Day

A really nice perk to working at Wekiwa Springs is that because of the park's location and facilities, trainings are commonly held here.  Today, I was able to participate in a fire training that I had been trying to go to for the past year or more.  I needed this training under my belt to begin working towards a Crew Boss status on the fireline.  I had not been able to take it before because of the remote location of my former park and the travel restrictions that we have been under for the past couple of years.  Now that I have completed this training I am a Firefighter Type 1.  I need to work a certain number of prescribed fires as a Crew Boss Trainee.  Then, I will be a full-fledged Crew Boss.  I still have a long way to go before I can be a Burn Boss, in charge of an entire prescribed fire. As a Crew Boss, I will guide one group of people working on a fire to achieve the goals set forth by the Burn Boss.
I spent the whole day in training, but it was interesting and well presented.  It didn't feel like a classroom day at all.  The majority of the training was spent reviewing two resources that we carry on the fireline.  One is the Fireline Handbook, which has everything that I might possibly need to know about dealing with wildfire.  Most of the information is also applicable to prescribed fire.  It has detailed checklists for any scenario we might encounter from a safety checklist for every incident to evaluating homes in the path of fire to guiding a helicopter water drop.  It has charts to give us an idea of how long creating a fireline by hand should take, and how much room a helicopter needs to land.  It is an amazing wealth of knowledge in a small, cargo-pocket sized book.  I still have my first Fireline Handbook from my initial fire training.  It was a little out of date, so I got a new one today.  The other resource we were given is the IRPG, or Incident Response Pocket Guide.  It contains the most commonly used bits of information in a condensed format.  The IRPG is a much quicker reference to use and it fits in a shirt pocket.

Throughout the day, we reviewed different sections of both books and participated in several group exercises to put the knowledge to use.  We looked at maps and scenarios that a firefighter might encounter on the fireline.  We had to work together to run through our checklists and create a plan of attack while keeping our crews informed and safe.  After the group exercises, we had a quick review and then took a test.  I aced the test and got my certificate.  I will add it to the collection.

After I finished my test, I went outside to wait until everyone was finished.  I watched a Red-bellied Woodpecker inspect an Oak Tree.  I first noticed it when it was on the ground.  Then, I watched it hop all over the tree.  It went round and round and up and down checking each fissure in the tree bark.

Every zone around the building that we were training in today has been burned in the last month or two.  It was a great way to set the mood for a fire training!  This area was burned a week ago today, and the black is quickly being replaced by green.

Thought of the Day #34
I have mentioned the different outdoor agencies before.  It is often difficult for people to make the distinction between state park, national park, division of forestry, city park, water management area, etc.  We are all separate entities and for the most part, we work independently.  Firefighting is one thing that brings us all together though.  We all go through the very same National Wildfire trainings, so quite often, we are at those trainings together.  We can help each other out when one area is short on staff for a prescribed burn or if a wildfire happens, we can work together to fight it.  Because we go through the same trainings, it is easy to work together to achieve the same goals.  We use the same terminology and look for the same safety considerations.  Our organizational structure is the same, and our procedures are the same.  Today, there were several other Florida State Park people, but there were also people from the county, the Office of Greenways and Trails, a Water Management District, and the Nature Conservancy.  Many of the people in the room had worked some of the same fires together or burned on the same properties.

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