How to dig fire lines, understand fire behavior, and safely work around fire engines in the forest environment are some of the skills Washington State University undergraduate students will learn in Wildland Fire Ecology and Management, a new course beginning this fall.

The course is designed to prepare young forestry professionals to meet the certification requirements to become entry-level wildland firefighters. This will, in turn, enable them to work on projects that involve the use of prescribed fire to accomplish ecological restoration objectives.

Mark Swanson.

“We are doing a good job educating our students about the science of fire, but there is definitely a need for more hands-on training,” said course-designer Mark Swanson, an associate professor of forestry at WSU. “If we can send our students out of here with a basic knowledge of how fire is suppressed under emergency circumstances and how it’s used as a management tool, then they’re going to be a lot more competitive on the job market.

Swanson hopes to round out the class by having students participate in an actual prescribed fire management event after they have become certified as wildland firefighters.

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