UAF creates wildland firefighting crew

January 9, 2015

UAF News

Leona Long

Wildland fire science students at the University of Alaska Fairbanks will put away their PowerPoints and hit the fire lines this spring as a crew.

“The UAF Wildland Firefighting Crew is going to be one of the nation’s first fully nationally certified wildland fire hand crews sponsored by a university,” said Tylan Martin, assistant professor of wildland fire science at UAF Interior-Aleutians Campus.

“The crew gives students an opportunity to go on active fires and put the skills they've been learning in their classes — like digging line, using chain saws and putting natural fire out — to use in the field. Not only will they get valuable on-the-job training, they will also be earning a paycheck and academic credit toward their degree in wildland fire control,” Martin said.

The UAF Wildland Firefighting Crew is open to anyone taking UAF classes. Students in rural Alaska can be part of the fire crew by taking distance education classes. Many of the wildland fire science classes are offered distance delivery via Google Hangouts. Additionally, the College of Rural and Community Development offers audio conference classes that fill the general education requirements for an associate of applied science degree in wildland fire control.

“The CRCD Cross Regional Schedule is a way for students in rural communities to take UAF classes without leaving home,” said Teisha Simmons, director of Interior-Aleutians Campus. “Students attend class by dialing into a conference call. They get the same interaction with their instructor and classmates as they would in a classroom, but without having to come on campus.”

The UAF Wildland Firefighting Crew teaches the skills needed to strengthen village firefighting crews or organize a wildland fire hand crew.

“For rural Alaskans, wildland firefighting is a vital part of communities,” Martin said. “Crew members will get that strong sense of organization and discipline that comes with a Type 2 fire crew. When they're done, they'll earn their degree so they can get well-paying jobs in the wildland fire industry or go back to their hometown and strengthen their Type 2 crews.”

Crew members must have their wildland firefighting “red card,” the minimum qualification to be on the fireline. Anyone who does not already have a card can take FIRE 151 Wildland Firefighter 1, offered during the spring 2015 semester. The class is slated for Saturdays and Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Jan. 24 to Feb. 7, in Room 151 of the University Park Building, 978 University Ave. in Fairbanks.

For more information about the crew or to apply, contact Tylan Martin, at 907-474-6334 or