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The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Fire Management Program is responsible for protecting and restoring lands in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and Pacific Islands territories.

Employees Train Military and International Firefighters

August 2008

When the record-breaking fire season in California quickly escalated last June, National Guard and firefighters from overseas were called in to help. They were first trained by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), with help from U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service.

Loren DeRosear, FWS Regional Fire Management Coordinator in the Southwest, served as lead instructor for the first round of military training. His team of firefighters including Steve Schumacher from FWS Midwest Region and the other agencies conducted classroom training for more than 500 members of the California National Guard, essentially a condensed version of basic firefighting focusing on fire behavior and weather. With training complete, crews received fire gear, were assigned advisors from the federal agencies, and mobilized to incidents. Once on site, the crews completed field qualification before working on the fireline.

At the same time, 44 firefighters from Australia and New Zealand arrived at the National Interagency Fire Center to be trained and oriented on U.S. wildland fire operations and policies, including the use of fire shelters. Firefighter Kelly Cardoza from the Pacific Region served on the training cadre.

The Australian and New Zealand contingent worked in the United States for about a month before returning home in mid-August. The California National Guard is expected to continue bolstering firefighting efforts throughout September. Several other FWS firefighters are expected to assist with the additional firefighter training needed any additional military resources.

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