SALMON, Idaho — According to Utah Wildfire Info, there are currently seven active wildfires in Utah, with many others burning throughout the country. With the ongoing drought and wildfires happening more frequently, the need for extensive training has become a pertinent part of a U.S. Forest Service wildland firefighter’s job description.
National Rappel Training is a weeklong intensive training program based in Salmon, Idaho. Wildland firefighters from across the country are sent to train at the Salmon Air Base to progress through standardized training that every rappel crew in the forest service receives. The standardization, which began in 2011, allows a team to be called in from anywhere in the country and provide the same skills in combating wildfires.
The training at the facility in Idaho follows four weeks of activity conducted at the firefighter’s home base. Upon arriving for rappel training, the trainees progress through a weeklong performance-based training program requiring each trainee to prove to their instructor that they have completed each task satisfactorily before moving to the next step. Each trainee moves through a series of steps from the classroom to mock training, such as rappelling from a tall tower to finally rappelling from a helicopter into typical terrain in the field.