wildland firefighter courseGet certified as a Wildland Firefighter

Wildland firefighting is a summer job for some firefighters, a passion for others, and a lifelong career for those who can’t get enough of it.

Maybe you’re interested in fighting fire, but how do you know if it’s going to be a good fit?

Centralia College East is offering a Wildland Firefighter Certification course starting April 7

This certification course addresses the foundational skills universal to all wildland firefighters.

The information is taught via four evening zoom sessions (6-8:30 p.m. April 7, April 21, May 5, and May 19), plus online modules (approximately 30 hours of content), along with a face-to-face field day - 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. May 22 or 23 - for demonstrating skills and competencies. The field day will begin at CCEast in Morton and move to a nearby skills practice site. Participants must have adequate boots for the field day. Students must participate in one of the two field days to be awarded certification. 

The course covers entry-level firefighter skills including: Firefighter Training, Intro to Wildland Fire Behavior, Human Factors in the Wildland Fire Service, and Intro to the Incident Command System. Successful completion of the course qualifies participants for certification as Entry Level Firefighter (FFT2) awarded through the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. 

sami schinnellThe course is taught by Sami Schinnell, who has 23 years of wildland fire experience, having held positions in suppression, prevention, and fuels management all over the country.

“I get to share something that I’m passionate about with the next generation of firefighters,” Schinnell explained when asked why she likes teaching this class.

Schinnell, who was born and raised in eastern Lewis County, said there are opportunities to work in this career locally, as well as all over the country, as demand for firefighters is growing nationwide. She noted that fire seasons are getting longer and more devastating each year and agencies have responded by hiring more firefighters.

The certification provided by this class is Entry Level Firefighter (FFT2) awarded through the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. This training is accepted by agencies and private entities nationwide.

“I took the class with zero background or understanding of what to expect from becoming a wildland firefighter,” said Jacob Lear, who was hired by a wildland fire company to work on a Type 6 Engine. “This class provided me the opportunity to spend 53 days in the Pacific Northwest fighting wildfires and protecting the community I grew up in.”

“I made memories that I will never forget and have formed incredible relationships with fellow firefighters while doing it,” he added.

fire griddingTroy Restvedt, a volunteer firefighter with the Glenoma Fire Department, echoed Lear’s comments and added, “I would recommend this course to any new firefighters looking to acquire their red card.”

Carol Courtney, also from the Glenoma Fire Department, had immediate opportunities to put her training to use when the department was called to respond to a brush fire last summer.

“All the skills taught in the course came into play,” she explained, “and we successfully brought the fire under control prior to being able to turn it over to DNR.”

“This class is a must for anyone wanting to learn more about fighting wildland fires, or even being more useful in their local volunteer fire department,” Courtney added.

The class includes online modules that students complete independently, four evening lectures delivered virtually, and an all-day field day.

The class fee is $185. To register call Centralia College East at 360-496-5022. A limited number of partial and full scholarships are available.