'Red Card' Requirements

IQS Forms

The forms below may be downloaded in PDF format. Forms are available in a format that allows them to be filled electronically and printed or emailed.

Crosswalk Equivalency (experience reporting form) 

IQS Fitness Form  

IQS Personal Information Form 

Nebraska Wildland Fire Training

The Nebraska Wildland Fire Academy provides quality fire and incident management training at little or no cost, and utilizes the expertise of local, state and federal firefighters to ensure the fire training needs of Nebraska and the surrounding region are met.

Read About NWFA

Learn more about wildland fire training


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:

  • Required course completion documentation
  • Documentation of annual fire refresher training (RT-130) for those renewing a card
  • Documentation of annual work capacity test (IQS forms above)

National Wildfire Coordinating Group Courses
All National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) courses are categorized by a 4-5 digit identifier, S-190 for example.  The first letter designates the type of course.  There are nine different types of courses, as shown in the list below.

D Dispatch Courses FI Fire Investigation Courses
I Incident Command Courses L Leadership Courses
M Management Courses P Prevention Courses
RT Refresher Courses RX Prescribed Fire Courses
S Suppression Skills Courses    


A complete listing and description of each NWCG course, including student and instructor requirements, time required to complete each course and target students, can be found in the Field Manager’s Course Guide, PMS 901-1.

Steps to Obtain Certification

There is a base level every firefighter must achieve before progressing upward in the system. It is achieved by taking three classes: 

  • 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) An Introduction, are also required training courses.

I-100 has been determined to be the equivalent of IS-100, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)/Homeland Security course required of all persons involved with emergency planning, response or recovery efforts.  If you have previously taken IS-100 online or otherwise, you will not need to take I-100 again. Both courses are available online through FEMA.

The final step in obtaining a Red Card is to 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.

Nebraska Qualifications Committee 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.