Sewanee Hosts Third Annual Wildland Fire Class

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 12:48:00 CST  — by: Ethan Burns

Sewanee conducted its third annual basic wildland fire training course (S-130, S-190, L-180) to train participants in wildland firefighting and fire safety techniques. Hosted through a partnership between the Department of Earth and Environmental Systems and Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability, this course has become a popular way for students and regional professionals to gain basic experience and credentials in this vital natural resource field.  Additionally, this class has serves as an opportunity for students to network with professionals. All six of Sewanee’s environmental majors were represented at the training.

Taught by the Cherokee National Forest Hotshots, students returned from Christmas break a week early to learn about wildland fire behavior, the incidentcommand system, human factors in wildland fire, and the basics tactics of wildland firefighting. A fire ecology component was also incorporated to the course and taught by Forestry Professor Ken Smith.

S-130, S-190, and L-180,(together with I-100 and I-700 which students took online) are the standard training classes required for participating in a prescribed burn or wildland firefighting with many agencies and organizations. Additionally, these certifications allow students to participate in prescribed burns on Sewanee’s Domain. Since 2009, the University has conducted prescribed burning on a number of research plots as well as large tracts to manage successional habitat.  Ongoing studies in these tracts include, but is not limited to, oak and hickory regeneration studies, bat censuses, and white pine response to fire management.   ‌ 

Despite having sub-optimal weather conditions for burning most of the week, students were able to get their hands dirty late Thursday afternoon with two small prescribed fires at the old Cheston Farm. New students, and students that returned to recertify, put to work their newly acquired skills; delegating leadership roles, reading burn plans and weather reports, igniting back burns, and mopping up embers. Overall the students declared the week a success and are looking forward to utilizing these skills on the Domain and in their future careers.

If you are interested in participating prescribed burns or in future classes contact Domain Manager Nate Wilson at 


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