Butte Cal-TREX, Fall 2022
Prescribed Fire Training Exchange
Chico-Cohasset-Forest Ranch, CA
What is TREX? A TREX, short for "Training Exchange," is a training event where fire practitioners build "good fire" skills. Butte Cal-TREX is designed so both professionals and ordinary people can get better at putting good fire on the ground in and around our rural communities. Just like the Butte Prescribed Burn Association which is open to all, it's about the belief that everybody deserves to know how to use fire wisely.
When is it? Butte Cal-TREX has 2 parts: pre-fire training weekends (which were held in October 2022) and an on-call burn crew window (which is happening now, through February 2023). During this "on-call window," we will be burning a variety of State, Federal, University, and private lands around our foothill communities whenever we have a safe and ecologically healthy opportunity to do so!
Who can participate: The TREX event is for anyone interested in improving their fire knowledge and becoming better practitioners of good fire. Beginners, non-professionals, and fire professionals are all welcome and will benefit from this training exchange. Some burns are only open to community members who have completed certain fire trainings or certifications. However, other burns are open to everyone, such as burns hosted by private landowners working with the Butte Prescribed Burn Association. If you have questions, contact PBA Coordinator Dallas Koller at email@example.com or TREX Incident Commander Eli Goodsell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I live here. Will I see smoke/fires in my community during TREX? Yes! As we rebuild the rural skill set of prescribed fire, you will be seeing more smoke and prescribed fires in your community over the coming fall and winter. As always, folks lighting good fire in your community will have notified the Butte County Air Quality Management District, CAL FIRE, and most likely your community Facebook page. You can also download CARB's "Smoke Spotter" app to find out where many prescribed fires are being lit. Or, just join the Butte Prescribed Burn Association and come burn with us!
I own land! I would love to underburn it! How can I get you to come help out on my land? The Butte PBA (Prescribed Burn Association) exists exactly to help private landowners like you. You can email the PBA at email@example.com. Tell them a little about yourself and what you'd like to accomplish on your land. They can come walk your land with you and help you decide whether fire is a tool that would help you meet your goals. They can also help you understand what you would need to do before you are ready for fire. Butte PBA offers free assistance with burn unit prep, mapping, burn plans, and some permits.
I'm a journalist. Can I come watch your prescribed fire training? Yes! We have 2 PIOs (public information officers) whose job is to make sure we can welcome you to our fire training safely so you get a chance to tell our story. Space may be limited, though, so please contact our PIOs as soon as you know the dates you'll be in Butte County. Our PIOs are Gary Day, firstname.lastname@example.org, and Hannah Hepner, email@example.com. Please read the entirety of this page to get a sense for what kinds of things we cover at TREX.
Can't make it to Butte Cal-TREX 2022-23? All is not lost! To get Good Fire News so you never miss another opportunity to join a burn or training, sign up here.
OK, I'm signed up for TREX. What do I need to do in advance? No prior experience or training is necessary. However, individuals are encouraged to complete the basic wildland firefighting NWCG courses S-130, S-190, L-180 and FEMA courses ICS-100 and IS-700. (Scroll down for details) A work capacity test and a practice shelter deployment were offered in early October to those who needed it; if you still need a pack test/RT-130, let us know and we may be able to help. Some burning opportunities, including all Forest Service burns, will only be available to participants who have the training listed above. For more information, see the “Basic Wildland Firefighter Training” section below.
Description: The Butte Cal-TREX training has two parts:
1.) Pre-fire training weekends: Over three immersive three-day weekends of fire study. (Oct 7-9th, 15-16, & 22-23rd), participants tackled hands-on field scenarios and learned about fireline leadership skills, local fire ecology, cultural burning and fire management. About 45 local and regional residents completed NWCG Course S-219 (Firing Operations) during the final weekend.
Training topics included:
- Building a prescribed fire team
- Operational field scenarios
- How to assemble and care for fireline equipment like pumps, hoses, fittings and drip torches.
- How to take weather and fuel observations
- Radio communications
- Indicators for when a landscape or patch of ground is ready to burn
- Reading the landscape to tell where fire would be beneficial
- Understanding some cultural objectives for using fire (e.g., Tribal objectives, pyrosilvicultural objectives)
- Fire ecology and its interaction with climate science
2.) On-Call Prescribed Fire Crew: Now that the training weekend is over, participants will be on-call for prescribed fire training opportunities through (at least) February 2023. Timing of individual burns will depend on weather windows. Participants will assist with preparing, scouting, briefing, igniting, holding, fire effects monitoring, mop-up, and patrol on prescribed burns. The work will take place in diverse ecosystems, including on private lands and lands managed by the Plumas and Lassen National Forests.
Do I need a red card/FFT2 quals to participate? You only need a "red card" (a.k.a. Firefighter Type 2 qualifications) to join burns on Federal lands or on BCCER lands. But you don't need a red card to join burns on private lands. If you don't have a red card yet and you'd like to grow your fire learning opportunities by getting one, scroll down to see options for getting your qualifications.
• All participants must have insurance (e.g., workers’ comp or health) to cover any injury they may sustain during the training exchange.
• Participants should come with all appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). For burns requiring a red card, this PPE will usually include fireline-approved boots (all leather work boots, 8-inches tall, non-slip soles, no steel toe), headlamp, hard hat, Nomex clothing, leather gloves, eye protection such as sunglasses, canteens for drinking water, and (in many cases) a new generation fire shelter and a fireline pack to carry it in. If you do not have full PPE, we can arrange for you to borrow some. For community burns (on private lands/with the Butte PBA), PPE is: Sturdy boots/shoes, with all-leather being preferred (No rubber boots), a hat with a brim (hard hat is a great choice but a cowboy hat or ball cap works), leather gloves, eye protection such as sunglasses, and long sleeves-long pants, natural fiber clothing. 100% cotton clothing is most commonly worn and works great. But hemp, linen, and wool are all fine too! No synthetics. (Unless it's Nomex, of course!) For all burns, it's best to keep a cotton mask handy to stay COVID-safe.
Logistics: Most or all meals will be on your own, so expect to bring your own food and water.
Questions: Email Dallas Koller at firstname.lastname@example.org or Eli Goodsell at email@example.com.
Basic Wildland Firefighter Training Options to meet NWCG standards for Firefighter Type 2 (FFT2)
(also known as “Basic 32 Classes” or “Red Card”)
-----In Person Option-----
There are occasional opportunities to get your "Basic 32" hours of training in person in our region. These are usually hosted by Big Chico Ecological Reserve, Firestorm, the U.S. Forest Service, or the Plumas Underburn Cooperative. Sometimes there is a cost and sometimes it's free. A great way to hear about them is to join the Butte Prescribed Burn Association mailing list.
-----Self-Study Online Option (Always Free)------
- There are five classes (S-130, S-190, L-180, IS-100, IS-700).
- These courses will take approximately 30 hours to complete.
- The first three NWCG classes can be found online at https://www.nwcg.gov/publications/training-courses. You will need to find these classes in the list and follow them to their online delivery.
- The IS-100 is here https://training.fema.gov/is/courseoverview.aspx?code=IS-100.c,
- The IS-700 here https://training.fema.gov/is/courseoverview.aspx?code=IS-700.b.
- The last two classes are FEMA classes, so you will be prompted to create a FEMA SID (student identification number). You will also be asked for a DOMAIN, please select NWCG. There is nothing to it, just follow the steps and it will generate your number and send you back to the main page.
- Once you have completed the classes and pass the quizzes, it will generate a certificate for each class. Please save these in your personal files for the rest of your career! Documentation of your trainings is very important. You will also be prompted to submit these certificates during the registration process for the event.
**In addition to the Basic 32 online classes, you will need a field day, a shelter deployment, and an arduous pack test. To find out about these opportunities in Butte County, join the Butte PBA mailing list. To find out about them in Plumas County, join the Plumas Underburn Cooperative mailing list. (Butte PBA frequently shares Plumas-based news/trainings with Butte folks, and vice versa!)
To Stay "Current" in your Qualification:
- You will need to complete the RT-130 annually. This is a 1/2 day worth of training.
- You will need to deploy a practice shelter once a year (usually done at the RT-130).
- You will need to take the arduous level work capacity test every year.
- You will need to participate in a prescribed fire or wildfire within 5 years of taking the Basic wildland firefighting classes.