Agriculture News

November 7, 2017

Students can gain job skills during Red Card firefighter training in December

Fire training Students can gain the skills required for Red Card certification during basic wildfire firefighter training offered by Purdue University’s Forestry and Natural Resources department. Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The demand for firefighters capable of combating wildfires was brought into sharper focus this year. As fires raged across the western regions of the United States, including Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and, more recently, California, tens of thousands of firefighters were called upon to help battle the flames.

These firefighters must have a Red Card certification, which gives them the ability to operate on different levels of wildfire projects, according to Stephen Creech, a firefighter, training specialist and a Purdue University graduate.

Creech teaches a National Wildfire Coordinating Group “Red Card” training course through Purdue’s Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) department. The next session, which is scheduled for Dec. 2, provides a great opportunity for FNR undergraduates to obtain their certification and gain access to more jobs in their field. The Basic Wildland Firefighter Training session includes S-130 Basic Firefighter, S-190 Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior, L-180 Human Factors on the Fireline, IS-100 Introduction to Incident Command System and IS-700 National Incident Management System courses.

 “The Red Card certification is great for FNR undergrads for three reasons,” Creech said. “One, the nation needs certified wildland firefighters. Two, it looks great on a resume and it opens up a lot of opportunities. Three, it’s a way for students to get jobs. A lot of states recognize the advantages of Red Card-certified employees.”

Many Purdue graduates have obtained jobs working in wildfire-related fields. Logan Scherschel, who graduated from Purdue FNR with a degree in forestry in 2013, now works as a Wildland Urban Interface Specialist for the U. S. Forest Service in Texas. Part of his job is to work with local government officials, fire departments and homeowners to protect homes from wildfire.

“Purdue FNR helped me obtain my current position by getting me connected to people across Indiana to build my experience while I was there,” Scherschel said. “I assisted with prescribed fire at Martell Forest and the Purdue Wildlife Area. I ended up getting a job as a wildland firefighter with the National Park Service at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore through the FNR Career Fair.”

Firefighting is one way natural resources undergraduates can get ahead of their peers at other universities. The natural resources field is very competitive and being Red Card certified gives undergraduates an advantage in getting jobs after graduation, according to Scherschel.

“If a student has an opportunity to get Red-Carded while attending Purdue, I think they should do it as soon as possible,” he said.

The registration fee for the class is $90. Class size is limited with seats being offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Students interested in earning a Red Card Certification will need to pass a Work Capacity Test at Prophetstown State Park 2 p.m. on Dec. 1. The test will include wearing a 45-pound vest and walking 3 miles in 45 minutes or less.

The Basic Wildland Firefighter Training, which includes a combination of field and classroom training, is 7:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. on Dec. 2 at the Wright Center/Martell Forest. Students will need to bring their own lunch.

Registration forms are available in the FNR Office of Student Services in PFEN G003. A check or money order also can be sent to: Wildfire Management & Training Specialists, 4123 W. Stoutes Creek Road, Bloomington, Ind., 47404.

For more information, contact Stephen Creech at stephen.creech@comcast.net or 812-360-3731. 

Writer: Morgan Sussman, msussman@purdue.edu

Source: Stephen Creech, stephen.creech@comcast.net, 812-360-3731

Contact: Shari Finnell, sfinnell@purdue.edu, 765-494-2722

Agricultural Communications: (765) 494-8415;
Shari Finnell, Manager/Media Relations and Public Information, sfinnell@purdue.edu  
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