The Washington office of the US Forest Service sent a memo to the field announcing a pilot program in which the National Incident Management Organization teams will accept up to four trainee or “journeymen” individuals in order to “streamline and build capacity”. Here is an excerpt from the memo, which was signed by James Hubbard, Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry, and dated March 4, 2010.
As cited in the Fire and Aviation Management (FAM) 5-Year Strategy for Large Fire Management (Jacobs Report), there is a need to streamline training and build capacity. As a result, FAM is initiating an accelerated incident management training and qualification pilot program. This pilot program will assign and cover the expense for up to four trainees/journeymen to each National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) team for up to 120 days. The trainees/journeymen will be given a development plan that focuses on accelerated training and experience necessary to enhance incident qualifications.
Each trainee/journeyman must be available for up to 120 days to complete the training and experience requirements. There are no prerequisite expectations in terms of current qualifications. This opportunity will require a commitment over team assignments/single resource assignments to ensure a focused experience.
This may be related to the January announcement that the National Wildfire Coordinating Group was going to re-think the “number, type, and configuration of the national Incident Management Teams (Type 1, Type 2, and Area Command).” And both announcements may be a result of difficulties in filling positions on IMTeams and consistently having team members available for multiple two to three week assignments throughout a fire season.
A couple of the terms and statements in the memo are interesting. The term “journeyman” is not commonly used in incident management organizations. Usually it means someone has served as an apprentice and is qualified for the position, such as a plumber’s apprentice advancing to become a fully qualified, but minimally experienced, plumber. Maybe in this case they mean an applicant for one of these positions could be fully qualified for the position for which they are applying. But why do this? To obtain more experience? A little more clarity would have been helpful.
The other surprise is this:
There are no prerequisite expectations in terms of current qualifications.
Does this mean that a trainee Resource Unit Leader would be considered for a temporary position on a NIMO team that is comprised only of Command and General Staff positions two levels higher than a Resources Unit Leader?
As we said on January 22, we support substantially increasing the size of NIMO teams, but adding four trainees will not accomplish that goal. But it may help a few people to gain some experience and perhaps get some task books signed off.