Wildland Firefighters take refresher training
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa — The National Park of American Samoa hosted their annual Wildland Firefighter Refresher Training course from May 7 through 10, 2012. The national park sponsors 40 federal wildland firefighters in American Samoa, who are highly trained in the art and safety of fighting forest fires.
Participants go to the US mainland to help in the very dangerous work of fighting the fires that burn in the forests and mountains during the summer months. They are also certified and available to respond as federal emergency workers to national disasters such as the Gulf oil spill and the tsunami in American Samoa.
To become wildland firefighters, these men and women have to pass an initial course and receive refresher training and two weeks of skills training annually. They also have to remain fit and healthy. As part of the refresher training they will undergo the Pack Test, for which they must walk three miles in less than 45 minutes while carrying 45 pounds of weight.
The primary response area for the Samoan fire crew is northern California. Northern California is experiencing a dry winter and spring so far and is predicted to have many fires in 2012, so there is a high likelihood the Samoan crew will be asked to respond.
The National Park of American Samoa has been working in partnership with the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park Wildland Fire Program for over ten years, to train and administer these firefighters.