Native American Liaison
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Hosts Annual Fire Safety Refresher Training
On Wednesday, March 23, 2011 Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) hosted an annual wildland firefighter refresher training for staff from local resource management agencies. The RT 130 refresher training is required each year for all red-carded individuals. Red cards are issued to trained, qualified staff with experience in wildland fire and who have completed a certain level of training and a physical fitness test.
This RT 130 refresher training is conducted in collaboration with local partners based on standards established by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. This year, 75 individuals from six different agencies, including: the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community; the Bureau of Indian Affairs; the Minnesota Conservation Corps; the U.S. Forest Service; the Bloomington, Minnesota Fire Department; and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service participated. Minnesota Valley NWR has hosted this interagency training each March since 2006. Last year, 64 individuals participated.
"Many local agencies have red-carded personnel on staff, but are not able to conduct their own RT 130 refresher training because they do not have the minimum instructor qualifications to provide the training," explained Lee Nelson, Fire Management Officer at Minnesota Valley NWR. "This training qualifies them to participate on interagency firefighting teams as well as conduct prescribed burns on their own lands."
This interactive training involved a variety of sessions throughout the day with the aim of highlighting the essential aspects of safety zones, hazard avoidance and escape routes. One highlight was a game of Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG) Jeopardy "hosted" by Jami Markle, Fire Program Technician at Minnesota Valley NWR. The IRPG is a quick field reference guide for wildland firefighters.
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) conducts regular prescribed burning as part of its efforts to restore native prairie habitat and in preparation for the 2011 fire season, 16 staff from the SMSC participated in the training this year. "We partner with Minnesota Valley NWR not only on this training opportunity, but also on some of our prescribed burns," said Shawn Kelley, environmental scientist with the SMSC. Kelley continues, "Because we are in such close proximity to each other, it makes sense for us to work together on activities of mutual interest."