DEM Again Hosting Wildlife Firefighter Training Program Aimed at Increasing State's Capacity to Fight Wildfires

Published on Friday, January 19, 2024

PROVIDENCE, RI – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is announcing that it’s Forest Fire Program is again offering in late spring an intensive, introductory course designed to train new firefighters in the tools, tactics, and strategies used to suppress uncontrolled wildland fires. The state experienced a busy wildfire season in 2023, with DEM recording 78 wildfires encompassing 582 acres. This total includes the Congdon Mill Fire in West Greenwich that covered nearly 196 acres and the worst-in-decades Queen’s River fire in Exeter that burnt 286 acres. These latter two fires happened back-to-back in April, with DEM leading the state’s response. Wildfires are expected to become more frequent in Southern New England due to climate change. DEM is responding by offering specialized wildfire training classes to build staff and volunteer capacity, holding its first class in June 2023.

DEM will hold the no-cost, five-day, and classroom and field-based training S-130-S-190 course – with the curriculum designed by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) – at its George Washington Management Area office in Chepachet from June 3rd – 7th at 8AM - 5PM daily. It will qualify students to a higher FFT2 skill designation level recognized by the NWCG and expand the state’s capacity to respond to wildfires, which are expected to become more frequent as climate change continues to create warmer, drier conditions, leading to longer and more active fire seasons. The training will include the use of live fire and PPE, lunch, and refreshments will be provided. There is a final evaluation at the end of the training, and students will receive a certificate of completion. Although no prior experience in firefighting is required, applicants are required to complete the following online sections prior to classroom training sessions:

The online courses are expected to take 12.5 hours to complete, and students can save their progress and resume the courses at their convenience. After completion, evaluation certificates must be sent to

“DEM’s Forest Fire Program works closely with Rhode Island fire departments to suppress wildfires,” said Principal Forest Ranger and Training Officer Ben Arnold of the DEM Division of Agriculture and Forest Environment. “We rely on municipal fire departments to fight wildfires and fire departments rely on us in the same way. This training will allow us to continue building the capacity needed to address the increasing wildfire activity we’ve seen in recent years. The program offers an opportunity to both DEM employees and Rhode Island firefighters who seek wildfire suppression training at the national standard.”

Space will be limited with priority given to local municipal firefighters and DEM employees. Registration is open until Feb. 25. Acceptance letters will be sent notifying applicants of their admission. Questions may be directed to Ben Arnold ( or Patrick MacMeekin ( of DEM’s Division of Agriculture and Forest Environment. To submit an application for the training course, please click here.

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