The Basic Wildland Firefighter Academy was developed to facilitate hiring and training new seasonal firefighters for the May to December fire season every year. Those who successfully complete the course and perform satisfactorily in practical skills will have the opportunity to apply for jobs with Forest Service, the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, or any other federal agency in need of wildland firefighters. Jobs are available locally in the southern California area, statewide and nationwide. The certifications the students earn will also help qualify them to work for CalFire and the San Diego County Fire Authority.
The course, FS 144, consists of classroom lectures, physical fitness training and hands-on skills. It is conducted in an academy atmosphere with students wearing uniforms and dividing up into squads with student captains and a student chief. Students in the academy learn how to cut a fire break, perform a progressive hose lay and mobile attack with an engine, roll up hose, utilize torches and deploy emergency fire shelters. There are time tests for many of the skills and certifications. Physical fitness training also includes practice for a physical ability test in which students wear 45 pound vests while walking three miles in 45 minutes or less. The students train outside around the college grounds as well as off-campus in rural areas for realistic exercises in brush areas.
The Basic Wildland Academy course content includes requirements from the following National Wildfire Coordinating Group certifications: S-130 Wildland Firefighter Training; S-190 Intro to Wildland Fire Behavior; L-180 Human Factors on the Fire Line. Also included are NIMS 700 and 800; ICS 100 Intro to Incident Command System; CSTI Hazardous Material First Responder Operation (FRO) and SFT Confined Space Awareness.
Throughout the academy representatives from various agencies visit to evaluate academy recruits for potential career and seasonal firefighter positions. Students receive substantial guidance on job seeking and the hiring process. Those interested in employment start the application process immediately for seasonal, emergency on-call and apprentice wildland firefighter jobs including engine, hotshot and helitack crews.
The next Wildland Firefighter Academy at Southwestern College will start in January 2017 and finish well before the fire season officially starts in May. For more information look in the Spring Class Schedule under Fire Science Technology and on our website: www.swccd.edu/wildland (Uniform requirements are listed on the webpage.)
Typical class meeting schedule: FS 144-350 (7 units – increased eff. 2016)
5:00-9:00 p.m. Tues & Thurs. and 8:00-5:00 Sat. 11-12 Weeks: mid-Jan. to end of March.
New for January 2016, FS 144 students will be required to pay approximately $40 for personal protection equipment and books via registration fees.
The class is filled through regular course registration procedures. **NEW** Enrollment Policy will affect registration priorities for Spring 2017. See Enrollment Priorities Policy and Petition.
An Orientation meeting is held a few days before the class starts. Students must be cleared by a medical doctor prior to participating in physical fitness training.
Students who complete the Basic Wildland Firefighter Academy (FS 144) are eligible to take the Advanced Wildland Academy (FS 146) in the Fall. Both classes will be part of the new Widland Firefighter degree program set to start in Fall 2017. We will start offering other Wildland classes as early as Fall 2016. Check upcoming semester schedules for details.
Wildland Firefighter students are also encouraged to complete the EMT classes. (Certification as an EMT is required for employment with Cal Fire.) Refer to the EMT information web page for details: www.swccd.edu/EMT
and the schedules posted in Web Advisor.