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International Wildland Fire Management training in Jamaica

JAMAICA – From December 3 – 8, five USDA Forest Service trainers led a customized wildland fire management training in Jamaica for 35 trainees from the Jamaica Fire Brigade. The training was organized by the International Programs office with funding from and in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development in Jamaica.

As a small island developing country, Jamaica is highly vulnerable to environmental impacts from fire. This training program is part of a broader program on fire management in Jamaica that has included working with Jamaica on developing fire investigation skills and working with communities on fire prevention and awareness.

The training consisted of three modules: S-190 Introduction to Fire Behavior, ICS-100 Introduction to the Incident Command System, and S-130 Firefighter Training. These modules are all courses required by the U.S. National Wildland Coordination Group to receive qualification of wildland firefighter type II stateside. These courses were taught by Jorge Amaya, crew captain, Coronado National Forest; Renee Jack, fire operations supervisor, on detail with International Programs; Naomi Mills, Smokejumper, Missoula Smokejumper Base; Kerry Greene, public affairs specialist, Klamath National Forest; and Christian Ramirez, fire management officer, Payette National Forest. The instructor team also included contracted regional experts Oscar Ramirez, formerly of the National Forestry Commission in Mexico, and Shelly-Ann Lawson-Francis.

The training combined classroom instruction with field exercises that apply the acquired skills, including group integration activities and team building exercises; sand table exercises demonstrating the use of ICS on interagency fire response scenarios, and establishing first on scene command and coordination processes and organization; a fire line construction exercise, incorporating the use of compass navigation and ICS to organize as crews and accomplish the exercise; and the planning and completion of a prescribed burn plan, integrating concepts learned in the classroom including fuels management, ICS, leadership, suppression, mop-up, team work, cooperation and safety.

The USDA Forest Service training team poses with trainees the Jamaica Fire Brigade. USDA Forest Service photo.

Instructor Naomi Mills guides trainees through an exercise reinforcing concepts covered in S190 - Introduction to Fire Behavior course. USDA Forest Service photo by Kerry Greene.