National Wildfire Teams Getting Harder to Fill

October 2, 2012

Officials with the National Interagency Fire Center are studying ways to boost recruitment for the teams that manage wildfires and other disasters.

Agency spokesman Don Smurthwaite told the Lewiston Tribune that participation in the incident management teams is declining because the federal workforce is aging, and few people are willing to commit the time needed for the work. Team members may be gone for six weeks at a time during wildfire season.

The National Wildfire Coordinating Group has interviewed thousands of people in the wildfire response system to come up with a series of recommendations. One is that the federal government should streamline the training needed to become an incident commander. Smurthwaite says it currently takes around 20 years for a person to fulfill all the requirements.

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