The October/November 2009 issue of the Journal of Forestry included an article by Leda N. Kobziar et al discussing the challenges of educating the next generation of wildland fire leaders. Dr. Kobziar, who, incidentally, attended U.C. Berkeley as the student of one of my committee-members, the extraordinary Dr. Scott Stephens, writes that over the last few decades, the duties and skillset required of wildland fire has become much more complex, but the educational framework for developing and teaching future leaders has lagged behind.
Presently, it is very difficult to coordinate schedules and work to be able to get all the classes required for various certifications, particularly if one is already in school to begin with. Personally, it has been a struggle to maintain my Red Card and some certifications have lapsed because I couldn’t find time for complete required refreshers. Dr. Kobziar suggests a more streamlined approach, a fire professional development triangle comprised of training, education, and experience. I think encouraging a more formal blending formal education with practical fire experience is an excellant idea.