Author: Lessa Peter
This October, 12 students received certificates for completing S-219 Firing Operations training (S-219) at the BIA Pine Ridge Agency in South Dakota. The instructors for the course were Justin Bauer, BIA Pine Ridge Agency Forestry Aid, Kyle Golus, BIA Sisseton Agency Fire Operations Specialist and Eric O’Connor, Lieutenant with the Rapid City Fire Department’s Wildfire Mitigation Program. The students came from six different fire management offices including BIA Agencies, state, city, and a volunteer fire department.
BIA staff training was provided using funding from the Hazardous Fuels Reduction, Preparedness and Reserved Treaty Rights Lands Programs. The agency hosted and conducted training, at a minimal cost compared to hiring an outside resource. This training provides skill development for both the trainers and the students and supports the mission of wildland fire management.
Trainees receive a briefing identifying hazards, objectives, communications, roles, and tactics before any prescription burn takes place.
The course introduces the roles and responsibilities of a firing boss, single resource, and outlines duties of other personnel who may engage in firing operations. The training met requirements for students with open task books for the positions of Burn Boss Type 3, Burn Boss Type 2, Firing Boss (Single Resource) and Firefighter Type 1 (Squad Boss), all of which are advanced qualifications necessary for building a strong prescribed fire program.
“The course objective was to expose students, all with a variety of experience, to the techniques and required tools necessary to become a sound and technical firing ignitions operator,” said Golus. “The course provided a foundation for students to understand the process and behavior of fire before they use it in a live scenario.”
After the coursework, the students observed and applied what they learned, treating 16.4 acres of land using prescribed fire, which ultimately helped protect the communities of Crazy Horse and Fraggle Rock, South Dakota.
Student, Crystal Hernandez, applies and observed firing pattern at the Pine Ridge Rx site.
The treated land was part of a fuels management project called Pine Ridge Rx. BIA Pine Ridge Agency staff worked with the Great Plains Interagency Dispatch center and the Oglala Sioux Tribe to lay the groundwork in lifting burn bans, identifying and communicating burning operations and the planning that goes on even before the firing begins..
“We get quite a bit of fires in this particular area,” said BIA Pine Ridge Agency Fire Management Officer, Tamara Randall. “This year alone we had seven fires in this area. By treating the 16.4 acres, we were able to accomplish 33% of this project while also providing key training to our employees.”
“There are no live firing operations specific to the S-219 curriculum, but the in-person route was perfect for this class,” said O’Connor. “The students were mainly hands-on learners and the firing operations conducted in-person allowed them to physically see and apply the firing patterns that were taught in the coursework, in a very safe and controlled environment.”
The BIA looks forward to continuing a partnership with the Rapid City Fire Department and other agencies through interagency training opportunities and prescribed fire applications.
Boise, ID 83705