Four senators urge federal officials to publish fire training materials in Spanish

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Incident Response Pocket GuideOn Tuesday four U.S. Senators signed a letter urging federal officials to resume publication of wildfire training materials in Spanish as well as English.

The letter from Senators Ron Wyden, Jeff Merkley, Dianne Feinstein, and Kamala Harris follows a report that the National Wildfire Coordinating Group no longer publishes training materials in Spanish for wildland fire crews.

“Given that a significant number of these brave wildland fire crews speak Spanish as their native language, it would be wiser and safer to provide bilingual training materials,” the senators wrote in their letter to National Wildfire Coordinating Group Chairman Garth Fisher. “The alternative is to risk danger and harm by requiring that all firefighters rapidly attempt to understand training materials that are only available in English.”

The senators urged the NWCG to begin producing bilingual versions of key manuals like the Incident Response Pocket Guide.

“Firefighters must be provided with clearly understandable, updated training materials so that they can operate safely and respond to wildfires expeditiously and efficiently,” the senators wrote.


Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

13 thoughts on “Four senators urge federal officials to publish fire training materials in Spanish”

  1. I’m sorry to say 2 of these senators pushing this are from our home state of Oregon…

    I wonder how spanish speaking fire fighters are going to safely operate on the front lines when virtually all other comms. are in english? I am puzzled as to how this is their top legislative priority at the time & don’t buy the “expeditiously & efficiently response BS!

    1. I can’t agree more!! This is strictly playing to the voters, and has nothing to do with safety. If the Congress would do their primary job (produce a budget) maybe some of this frivolous BS would drop out.

      1. I couldn’t disagree more. With the number of contract crews in fire camp from Mexico I don’t know how continuing to provide training materials that they can read has “nothing to do with safety”.

  2. Just got done with a TFLD assignment in WA. All of the type 2 crews assigned on the division were native Spanish speakers. For the division, this was around 6. The IAP showed around 16 crews on the fire all from the same contractors. Ps, have you been to a big fire camp lately – the contract crews are all latino now. Only the HC2I and the shot crews were Anglos.

    At least my experience in the last few years with T2 crews in R6 indicates that this should have been done years ago.

    1. I have had similar experiences when working in R6 particularly but obviously its not confined there. That said I find this a frustrating issue as we are not a bilingual country, at least not officially, now in practicality……..

  3. Then what about publishing in Native American tribal languages too?

    With the wildland fire funding issues already in place multilingual training materials should have a low priority.

    Imho…Good example of Congressional meddling.

    1. It’s a safety issue in an English-speaking country (and command structure), as we cannot be expected to know Spanish and understand their comms should an emergency arise!

  4. MikeD, no one’s asking you to take a class in Spanish. You might not be able to read safety info in Spanish, but those who are fluent in the language might find it useful.

  5. How are they getting on a fire without a red card and proper training to begin with? Seems a little late to be issued the book at the fire.

  6. Mike balley, that was a joke, right? This has been an issue for at least 20 years and you’re just now getting up to speed? Many many many contract crews, particularly in the Northwest, are native Spanish speakers. Mexico sent a large contingent of crews to Canada not long ago. You don’t think we should provide those crews with safety info in Spanish?

  7. In the haze of a battle against natures wrath like that of a fast moving wild fire, these cushy life senators think that a poor fire chief has all the time in the world to give orders in English or Spanish automatically as if they were going on a walk in the park!

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