Southeast Region Fire Management
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US Fish and Wildlife provides firefighter training in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Training

Firefighters in Wildfire training hosted by the Caribbean Islands NWR - USFWS

In 2005 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Fire Department (commonwealth) in the Caribbean Islands commenced development of its cooperative relationship in regards to wildland fire management. After developing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two agencies, we began working together to improve wildland firefighter training in Puerto Rico and sharing resources to suppress wildland fires. Early in the process, the commonwealth realized that a significant number of fires were occurring in the wildland urban interface and that their personnel would benefit from more wildland fire training.
With the help of the USFWS via funding from the Department of the Interior Rural Fire Assistance Program, many rural fire departments in Puerto Rico have received basic wildland fire training, personal protective equipment, and basic firefighting equipment.  This training has included S-130 Firefighter Training, S-190 Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior, I-100 Introduction to the Incident Command System, and L-180 Human Factors in the Wildland Fire Service, along with hands-on field exercises.
In addition to several training sessions over recent years, this winter the USFWS in conjunction with the commonwealth sponsored a six week mass training session, training 180 structural firefighters the basic wildland fire courses.  The training course delivery exceeded National Wildfire Coordinating Group suggested time frames to ensure maximum benefit was achieved and translation between English and Spanish languages was accurate.
Since the USFWS and the commonwealth MOU was signed, four hundred and eighty structural firefighters have been trained and orientated to our mutual mission. Not only have valuable fire suppression skills been learned, but a better understanding of the effects of fire in the Caribbean ecosystems has been acquired by all participants.
Thus far, we feel the cooperative relationship between USFWS and the commonwealth has been quite successful. But, we still have much more to accomplish. There are still more structural firefighters that could be trained as wildland firefighters and we could do a better job of informing the general public  of how the USFWS and the commonwealth work together to protect their communities. If the cooperative relationship continues to evolve as it has over recent years, we can look forward to continued mutual development in the wildland fire management arena.


Last updated: January 28, 2011