DEM S-130 Wildland Firefighter Training, class of 2023

Rhode Island DEM Resumes Wildland Firefighter Training Program to Bolster State’s Wildfire Response Capacity

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is gearing up to address the rising threat of wildfires by announcing the return of its Forest Fire Program’s intensive introductory course. This program aims to train new firefighters in the essential tools, tactics, and strategies required to combat uncontrolled wildland fires. Following a busy wildfire season in 2023, with 78 wildfires covering 582 acres, DEM is taking proactive measures to build capacity for wildfire response.

The course comes in the wake of notable incidents such as the Congdon Mill Fire in West Greenwich (covering nearly 196 acres) and the worst-in-decades Queen’s River fire in Exeter (burning 286 acres), both occurring back-to-back in April 2023. To counteract the expected increase in wildfires in Southern New England due to climate change, DEM is offering specialized wildfire training classes, with the first class scheduled for June 2023.

The five-day S-130-S-190 training course, designed by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG), will be conducted at DEM’s George Washington Management Area office in Chepachet from June 3 to 7, running daily from 8 AM to 5 PM. This no-cost program qualifies students to a higher FFT2 skill designation level recognized by NWCG, thereby enhancing the state’s capacity to respond to wildfires.

Given the anticipated rise in wildfire frequency due to climate change, the training will include live fire exercises and personal protective equipment (PPE) usage. Lunch and refreshments will be provided, with a final evaluation at the end of the training, and students receiving a certificate of completion. While no prior firefighting experience is required, applicants must complete online sections on wildland fire behavior, the Incident Command System, and the National Incident Management System before attending the classroom training sessions.

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

Principal Forest Ranger and Training Officer Ben Arnold of the DEM Division of Agriculture and Forest Environment emphasized the collaborative nature of DEM’s Forest Fire Program with Rhode Island fire departments. He stated, “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 for the training is limited, with priority given to local municipal firefighters and DEM employees. Registration is open until Feb. 25, and acceptance letters will be sent to notify applicants of their admission. For inquiries, contact Ben Arnold ( or Patrick MacMeekin ( of DEM’s Division of Agriculture and Forest Environment. To submit an application for the training course, visit here.




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