How to Get a Red Card

The full process to obtain a Red Card and progress upward through the qualification system to higher responsibility is outlined in the Wildland Fire Qualification System Guide. Pay special attention to the early sections, as they provide a description of the overall system, including certification, maintaining currency, required training, position task books, fitness standards and incident complexity.
In Nebraska, the Nebraska Forest Service (NFS) issues red cards to non-federal firefighters affiliated with a fire department, agency or organization. Here are the documents required to obtain a card. All must be received by NFS prior to the issue of a card:

Steps to Obtain Certification

Basic Firefighter

Every firefighter must meet these requirements for a basic redcard:

  • S-130 Firefighter Training
  • S-190 Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior
  • L-180 Human Factors in the Wildland Fire Service
  • I-100 Introduction to Incident Command System and IS-700 National Incident Management System (NIMS)
  • Pass a fitness test. Most wildland fire agencies use the "pack" test. Depending on your anticipated fireline assignment, there are three levels of pack testing: light, moderate and arduous. Primary firefighters are required to pass the arduous level test: a three-mile walk with a 45-pound pack that must be done in less than 45 minutes. In Nebraska, the authority having jurisdiction, typically the fire chief or agency administrator, determines the fitness standard for their personnel.

Moving Up In the System

To move beyond this level (the next level is Advanced Firefighter/Squad Boss, FFT1) requires a combination of courses and on-the-job training. Required courses must be completed first, and then a "position task book" will be issued to the firefighter. A task book contains a list of various tasks and duties that must be performed in a variety of situations under the supervision of a firefighter certified at an equal or higher level. Upon completion of each task, your supervisor initials your task book to signify that you have done the job successfully. When the entire book is complete, and following certification by the appropriate authority, the firefighter will be considered qualified and certified at the next level.
Taskbook Guidance

Utilization of Existing Firefighter Experience

To recognize previous experience, an “Experience Equivalency” system has been developed. Briefly, this system would waive task book requirements for positions up to single resources boss provided a firefighter has a documented level of firefighting experience and number of years on the fireline. Course requirements will not change.Documentation of a firefighter’s experience must come from the fire chief and can be submitted on an Experience Reporting Sheet or other suitable documentation. Details of the Equivalency system and reporting forms are available in the IQS Forms section.

Obtaining Training

In Nebraska, contact the NFS Fire Training Program for all your wildland fire training needs. Training is also available at the Nebraska Wildland Fire Academy and Nebraska State Fire School. Federal land management agencies may also offer training. These courses are often open to all participants, provided the courses do not fill. Search the National Wildland Fire Training Schedule, which lists trainings available nationwide.

Incident Qualification System (IQS) Forms

This form is available for download and can be mailed, sent as an email, or printed and brought to a relevant training.