Cross training is important both for the safety of wildfire and wildland firefighters and for the effectiveness of wildfire suppression.

Wildfires that occur in the wildland urban interface involve both wildfire fighters and structural firefighters as well as their equipment, communications and abilities. Interface wildfires also involve both structures and wildland vegetation. The fire can either start as a structural fire that ignites surrounding brush and spreads to the forest, or as a wildfire that ignites buildings through ember transfer or flames from a wildfire.

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In many cases, firefighters are either trained to suppress wildfires or structural fires and not both. Cross training focuses on sharing the necessary knowledge needed to address both types of fires. Training can focus on equipment, practical skills, fire behaviour, communications and various other fire fighting tactics. FireSmart cross training enables specialized firefighters from one discipline to gain the basic skills of the other discipline

There are three levels of skills that firefighters that work in the wildland urban interface need to be trained in. As outlined by FireSmart Canada, they are:

  • Basic level training, to address firefighter safety needs and basic firefighting skills.
  • Fireline supervisory training, to address safety, strategy, and tactics.
  • Advanced training to address complex and mulit-agency situations.

Cross training for firefighters is not new, many training facilities and agencies are already working together to provide cross training programs for wildland urban interface firefighting.