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Executive Summary


A. Introduction

B. Description of System

C. Certification & Re-certification

D. Currency Req'ts.

E. Required Training / Prerequisite Exp.

F. Additional Training

G. Fitness Standards

H. Incident Complexity

I. Review and Update

J. Position Categories

K. Type 1 & Type 2 IMT's

L. ICS, Skill and Expanded Dispatch Position Qualifications

Appendix A: Position Task Book Admin.

Appendix B: Qual. Flow Charts

Appendix C: Training Courses

Appendix D: Glossary

An Adobe PDF version of this document (117 pages, 213 kb) can be downloaded from the NWCG Publications Management System (PMS) website.


Wildland and Prescribed Fire Qualification System Guide

PMS 310-1 (NFES 1414)
January 2000


The Wildland and Prescribed Fire Qualification System Guide (PMS 310-1), developed under the sponsorship of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG), provides guidance to participating agencies and organizations. This guidance is given for the establishment of minimum standards for wildland firefighting and prescribed fire personnel. Those personnel meeting the established standards are qualified for mobilization beyond their geographic area.

Personnel who are certified in a position prior to the implementation of this revision, may retain certification at the discretion of their agency. To qualify in any other position, the individual must meet the standards identified herein.

This system is designed to:

  1. Establish minimum interagency training, skills, knowledge, experience and physical fitness standards for wildland and prescribed fire positions which all participating agencies have agreed to meet for national mobilization purposes. Standards may be augmented to meet specific needs within an agency, but the augmentation cannot be imposed by an agency on its cooperators meeting the minimums outlined in this guide.
  2. For wildland fire: Allow cooperating agencies to jointly agree upon training, knowledge and skills, experience and physical fitness standards required to meet fire management needs.
  3. For prescribed fire: Establish minimum qualifications for personnel involved in burns which are of moderate complexity or higher (see section G, “Fitness Standards”) and on which resources of more than one agency are utilized. For burns of low complexity agency and local cooperators determine qualifications.

Personnel mobilized beyond their geographic area must meet the established qualification standards in this guide. Any organization or agency providing resources to fill national interagency requests for incidents or multi-agency prescribed fires of moderate or higher complexity will be expected to meet the minimum national requirements described in this guide.

PMS 310-1 recognizes the ability of cooperating agencies at the local level to jointly define certification and qualification standards. Agencies dealing with other than wildland and prescribed fire incidents may want to consider using PMS 310-1 guidelines as the framework for establishing certification and qualifications.


The Wildland and Prescribed Fire Qualification System is a “performance based” qualification system. In this system, the primary criterion for qualification is individual performance as: observed by an evaluator certified in that position; using approved standards outlined in Appendix A, Position Task Book Administration, of this guide; and documented in an approved position task book.

In a performance based system:

  • Qualification is based upon demonstrated performance as measured on wildland fires, prescribed fires, other incidents, normal job activities, in simulated exercises or classroom activities.
  • Personnel who have learned skills from sources other than actual performance on wildland and prescribed fires or NWCG curricula, such as agency specific training programs (structural fire, law enforcement, search and rescue, etc.), may not be required to complete specific courses in order to qualify in an NWCG position.
  1. The components of the wildland and prescribed fire qualification system are as follows:

    1. Position Task Books (PTB) contain all critical tasks which are required to perform the job. The tasks in each PTB have been established by experts from all NWCG agencies and geographical areas of the United States, tested and approved by NWCG. PTBs are in a format which allows documentation of a trainee’s ability to perform each task. Tasks pertaining to tactical decision making and safety are flagged and require position performance on a wildland and/or prescribed fire. Remaining tasks may be evaluated through other means such as simulation, or other emergency and non-emergency work. Successful completion of all required tasks of the position, as determined by an evaluator(s), will be the basis for recommending certification.

      The following positions utilize the same PTB for the Type 1 and Type 2 levels (ICT1/2, PSC1/2, OSC1/2, LSC1/2, FSC1/2, SOF1/2, IOF1/2, HEB1/2, RXM1/2, RXB1/2). For those positions having the same PTB, the trainee will be required to obtain and complete an initiated PTB for each complexity level.

      Example: A trainee completes a PTB for ICT2, receives certification from the home unit and becomes qualified in that position. When the home unit makes a determination that the individual, with adequate experience and required training, is ready for advancement to the ICT1 position, the home unit initiates a new ICT1/2 PTB. Crossing out ICT2 on the PTB cover identifies that the trainee is now working to complete the ICT1 position task book.

      IMPORTANT NOTE: Trainee requirements include completion of all required training courses and prerequisite experience prior to obtaining an initiated PTB. The only exceptions are those Command and General Staff positions that include S-420, S-520, and S-620 as required training. PTBs and the qualification process can be initiated for those positions prior to attendance and completion of these three courses. This will allow trainees to gain experience that will prepare them for passing these advanced courses.

      Training courses or job aids identified as Additional Training Which Supports Development of Knowledge and Skills (see Section F, “Additional Training Which Supports Development of Knowledge and Skills”) contain the knowledge and skills required of a position. An individual should not be given a position performance
      assignment if additional knowledge and skills required to perform the tasks of a position are not first obtained, either through formal training or other methods.

    2. Training courses provide the specific knowledge and skills required to perform tasks identified in the PTB. This provides a direct link between training and job performance. Required training has been held to the minimum required to provide
      for safe operations on wildland and prescribed fires. Although most training courses are not “required”, all courses are available and considered to be a primary means by which personnel can prepare for position performance evaluation.
    3. Job Aids exist to facilitate development where there is no developed training course and to provide a ready reference for performance on the job. Individuals must possess the knowledge and skills to perform job aid tasks.
    4. Agency Certification and documentation is the responsibility of the employing agency certifying that the individual is qualified to perform in a specific position. Individuals are responsible for providing proof of qualification on an incident. Proof of qualification is not required for the following positions: Advanced Firefighter/Squad Boss (FFT1), Firefighter (FFT2), Helicopter Crewmember (HECM), Display Processor (DPRO), Status/Check-In Recorder (SCKN), Personnel Time Recorder (PTRC), Equipment Time Recorder (EQTR) and Radio Operator (RADO). It is the responsibility of each agency to document those qualified in these positions.
  2. Responsibilities

    Each agency is responsible for selecting trainees, ensuring proper use of position task books (see Appendix A), and certification of trainees.

    The individual is responsible for completing training courses, completing the appropriate PTB, and showing proof of qualifications on an incident.

    The incident training and qualification process on wildland or prescribed fire incidents is the responsibility of the local hosting agency. Documentation of training and experience for contractors is the responsibility of the contractor (see below in Section C, “Certification and Re-certification”).

    The Certification Flow Chart on the following page provides an overview of the qualification and certification process. For more specific information concerning roles and responsibilities, task book administration, and application of the qualification and certification process, see Appendix A of this guide.


Each agency is responsible for annually certifying qualifications of its personnel based upon the requirements of this guide and agency specific requirements supplementing this guide. This responsibility includes evaluation of personnel for recertification in cases where position qualifications have been lost as a result of a lack of current experience.

A key component in the certification or re-certification process is the subjective evaluation by the appropriate agency official of an individual’s capability to perform in a position. Completion of required training and experience requirements alone does not guarantee that an individual is qualified to perform in a position.

The quality of experiences gained in a given position should be closely evaluated when making a determination for advancement to the next higher position, to a different position, or for re-certification. The quality of experience may relate to the number of fuel types in which an individual has performed, size of the incident in terms of personnel and equipment, the number of assignments, or complexity of operations to include the different types of resources managed.

This guide recommends that more than one trainee assignment be experienced before certification; and that more than one assignment be experienced after completing the PTB and receiving certification before an individual begins movement to the next higher level. When recertification is necessary due to a lack of currency, it is recommended that the individual experience a minimum of three operational periods, under the supervision of an evaluator, before re-certification is granted.

However, certification and re-certification is a determination that each individual agency must make based on task evaluations, position performance evaluations and their own judgement of the quality of an individual’s experience.

Agencies shall not certify private contractors except where formal agreements are in place. Clauses in contracts are to include stipulations that specify the service provider must meet the standards found in this guide.


For the positions identified in this guide, the maximum time allowed for maintaining currency is three (3) years for air operations and expanded dispatch positions and five (5) years for all others.

Currency can be maintained in the following ways:

  1. By successful performance in the position qualified for within the given time frame.
  2. By successful performance in a higher position(s) for which that position is a prerequisite, providing the individual was previously qualified in that position.
  3. By successful performance in a position that is identified in this guide (see Section L, “ICS, Skill and Expanded Dispatch Position Qualifications”) as OTHER POSITION ASSIGNMENTS THAT WILL MAINTAIN CURRENCY.

    Example: Currency for a Resources Unit Leader can be maintained by successful performance as a Resources Unit Leader within five years; by successful performance as a Planning Section Chief Type 2 within five years; by successful performance as a Demobilization Unit Leader or Status/ Check-In Recorder within five years.


Required training (as identified in Section L and Appendix C of this guide) and prerequisite experience cannot be challenged. The process of demonstrating the
abilities to perform the position is the completion of a position task book. Agency equivalent courses may be substituted for required courses when learning and performance objectives meet or exceed required course learning and performance objectives.


Additional training which supports development of knowledge and skills are training courses or job aids (as identified in Section L and Appendix C of this guide) which can help to support a position performance assignment. The knowledge and skills necessary for successful completion of the tasks in a position task book are provided in the identified courses, but may also be acquired in a variety of ways, including on-the-job training, work experience, and identified formal training as determined by one’s agency.

An individual must have an opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills required to perform the tasks of a position before accepting a position performance assignment. It is the responsibility of the individual agency to ensure that each trainee has the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for position performance.


Personnel must meet established physical fitness standards for wildland and prescribed fire assignments (see Section L for the physical fitness category of a particular position). Agencies have the latitude to determine the method of evaluating the physical fitness level of their personnel. However, it should be a measurable evaluation process.

The following four categories of physical fitness have been established:

  1. Arduous. Duties involve field work requiring physical performance calling for above-average endurance and superior conditioning. These duties may include an occasional demand for extraordinarily strenuous activities in emergencies under adverse environmental conditions and over extended periods of time. Requirements include running, walking, climbing, jumping, twisting, bending and lifting more than 50 pounds; the pace of work typically is set by the emergency situation.

  2. Moderate. Duties involve field work requiring complete control of all physical faculties and may include considerable walking over irregular ground, standing for long periods of time, lifting 25 to 50 pounds, climbing, bending, stooping, quatting, twisting and reaching. Occasional demands may be required for moderately strenuous activities in emergencies over long periods of time. Individuals usually set their own work pace.

  3. Light. Duties mainly involve office type work with occasional field activity characterized by light physical exertion requiring basic good health. Activities may include climbing stairs, standing, operating a vehicle and long hours of work, as well as some bending, stooping or light lifting. Individuals almost always can govern the extent and pace of their physical activity.
  4. None. Duties are normally performed in a controlled environment, such as an incident base or camp. For any position identified in this guide with a fitness level of “None” or any technical specialist positions who have the need to be on the fireline for non-suppression tasks, the required fitness level shall be “Light.”


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