KRWG Public Media participated in a live webcast on Thursday that marked the 75th anniversary of the Smokey Bear wildfire prevention campaign.
The webcast featured a wide variety of professionals, including Eric Solomon from the U.S. Forest Service.
Solomon discussed the work of fire prevention technicians. Yes, he noted, they are out in the forest, teaching people about how to build and extinguish campfires. But they do a lot more as well.
“Another way that our fire prevention technicians spread that message, is when they’re not in the forest, they’ll be out. They’ll be doing public education events, visiting schools, teaching children how to be safe and responsible as well. And we also do hazardous fuels reduction, and we’ll work with communities on how to make their communities more fire resilient,” said Solomon.
The event also included questions from across the country.
Fire prevention technician John Artley answered this question:
How long does it take to be trained to become a wildland firefighter?
“The basic training classes take just a few days to get a "Red Card" certification and this also includes a field portion outside. There is also a physical requirement called the pack test which includes a 3-mile hike carrying 45 pounds, and this must be completed in under 45 minutes. A firefighter must be able to pass the pack test every year, and beyond the basic Red Card, there are infinitely more training classes available which people take to become more knowledgeable and to advance in their careers,” said Artley.