By Managing Editor Teri L. Hansen
The McPherson Fire Department has been hard at work. In addition to the calls they respond to and other obligations within the community, they have been working to receive the National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s Incident Qualification Card, commonly called a “Red Card.” The card is and interagency certification that means personnel are officially qualified for the job, in this case, wildland fire response. The training is recommended by the University of Kansas Fire and Rescue Training Institute for Wildland Firefighting.
“This training gives our personnel a better understanding of variables that effect the growth and spread of wildfires,” McPherson Fire Department Chief TJ Wyssmann said. “Fuel types, weather and topography all contribute to the rate of spread and intensity of the fire, which this certification teaches.”
Obtaining this card involves classroom study which fire department personnel completed at McPherson College. They also had to perform a “Pack Test,” that measures aerobic capacity, muscular strength and muscular endurance, which took place at the McPherson College Stadium.
“All members were required to walk not run three miles with a 45-pound pack in 45 minutes. The stipulation of not running requires a brisk walking pace to achieve that time frame,” Wyssmann explained. “The pace is intentional and demanding on your body. Most people complain it would be easier to run, however the rules of the test state that one foot must always remain on the ground at all times.”
Both of these criteria have been completed, now the only thing left is a field day which will take place next month.
“The field day will be in the county on grassland,” Wyssmann said. “A control burn, or prescribed burn will be conducted.”
All personnel will be required to complete this training and add to the well-rounded department. It is part of the comprehensive list of training required by the department, along with such annual certifications in other areas.
“Wildfires are becoming more prevalent in our jurisdiction as well as Kansas. Operating safely on incidents as well as having all personnel uniformly trained is vital to the success in mitigated those incidents,” Wyssmann said. “Our personnel have done an outstanding job at completing the necessary training required by University of Kansas Fire and Rescue Training Institute.”