State Forestry Offering Virtual Wildland Firefighting Class
Alaskans looking to start a career in wildland firefighting don’t have to wait until spring to take a class that will qualify them to work this summer. The Alaska Division of Forestry (DOF) is piloting a new basic wildland firefighting (Red Card) class to be held February 14-25.
Preparing for Next Season’s Fires
The course is being offered statewide through the online Navigate platform and features both virtual and in-person components. Students need access to a computer with a webcam and microphone, as well as high-speed internet.
The registration deadline for the class is February 8. The Department of Natural Resources is providing an online registration form.
The virtual component of the class will take approximately 30 hours with a daily time commitment of 2-3 hours for self-study. The class will feature daily Zoom meetings, quizzes, and a final exam that students must achieve a minimum score of 70 percent. Instructors will be available via email or phone to answer questions as they come up.
The class includes an in-person field day at a local Forestry office later this spring. Students can schedule a date and location for their field day and fitness test when they register. Students must participate in the field day and pass a fitness test to complete the class.
Upon completion of the class, field day, and fitness test, students will be eligible to receive a Red Card to work on a crew or in other wildland firefighting support positions.
“Offering this Red Card class virtually in the winter provides rookie firefighters another option and will help better prepare them for work on a crew this coming summer,” DOF Wildland Fire and Aviation Chief Norm McDonald says. “It will also help alleviate some of the training pressure our local area offices face each spring for Red Card classes.”
Cost of the course is $55 with purchase of an e-book or $73 for a paperback book. Students may apply for financial assistance if they cannot afford the class.
To emphasize the public safety mission of the Division of Forestry, this week Governor Mike Dunleavy introduced an executive order changing its name. Barring opposition from the legislature, the agency will become known as the Alaska Division of Forestry and Fire Protection, effective July 1.
Division Director Helge Eng says existing equipment and supplies with the DOF name and logo will be used until they are replaced normally, so the switch costs nothing. In fact, Dunleavy says clarifying the division’s duties should help it obtain federal grants to pay for fire prevention.
More than 90 percent of the Division of Forestry budget is spent on wildfire protection.