Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
TETLIN: Partners Conduct the FirstInterior Alaska Wildland Fire Academy
Alaska Region, June 27, 2010
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Interior Alaska Wildland Fire Academy Class of 2010.  6/27/2010, Jacki Horton
Interior Alaska Wildland Fire Academy Class of 2010. 6/27/2010, Jacki Horton - Photo Credit: n/a
Academy Crew goes to work on the Eagle Trail Fire. 6/6/2010, Dan Weisz
Academy Crew goes to work on the Eagle Trail Fire. 6/6/2010, Dan Weisz - Photo Credit: n/a
Academy Aviation Training.  6/14/2010, Adam Horton
Academy Aviation Training. 6/14/2010, Adam Horton - Photo Credit: n/a

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Alaska Division of Forestry, the University of Alaska, and six other government and Native organizations partnered to conduct the first Interior Alaska Wildland Fire Academy which ran from May 21 through June 27, 2010.  The Academy offered students from across Interior Alaska classroom and field training in basic wildland firefighter skills, incident and aviation management, leadership, first aid, and land navigation.

Goals of the Academy include:

·         Providing training for Alaskans in order to fill vacancies/needs within the Alaska firefighting community.

·         Improving the quality and frequency of use for Alaska Type 2 Emergency Firefighter (EFF) crews by providing training beyond basic red-card certification.

·         Providing career development pathways that further develop the skill sets of experienced firefighters, and provide initial experience to a younger generation of firefighters.

·         Introducing firefighters to wildland fire career opportunities beyond Type 2 crews.

The Academy was set up to simulate the Incident Command System (ICS) organization used on fires.  Students set up a base camp, lived in tents, and were organized into crews.  Graduates received certificates for thirteen National Wildland Fire Coordinating Group (NWCG) courses and earned nine semester credits in the University of Alaska Emergency Services Program.  All students were “Red-Carded” as Type 2 Firefighters.

Less than a week into the Academy, student crews were assigned to the 18,000 acre Eagle Trail Fire near Tanacross.  Their fourteen day fire assignment interrupted classroom activities, but provided students with valuable on the job training (not to mention two weeks of Emergency Firefighter wages!)  After their release from the fire, students resumed their coursework.  Another highlight of the Academy was a visit by Alaska’s Governor, Sean Parnell, who encouraged the students to continue their educations and help to develop an effective Alaska workforce for the future.

Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge forestry technicians John Grafft and Adam Horton were instructors and mentors throughout the Academy, and Mr. Grafft served as a Strike Team Leader for the Academy crews during their fire assignment.  Fire Management Officer, Peter Butteri and Mary Timm from the Refuge Visitor Services program also provided Academy instruction. Regional funding was made available to assist with the purchase of supplies and equipment.

The 38 graduates of the Interior Alaska Wildland Fire Academy Class of 2010 ranged in age from 18 to 40.  Many graduates have already found jobs on established crews or are working for initial attack organizations.  Cooperators have begun planning for the 2011 Academy, and hope to improve on this year’s very successful model.



Contact Info: Peter Butteri, 907-456-0361, peter_butteri@fws.gov
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