Accessible Navigation. Go to: Navigation Main Content Footer

SW Montana Wildland Fire Training Center

Frequently Asked Questions:

Who can take the classes?

Most Courses require that the students be qualified as a squad boss (FFT1) at the very least. This means that they have had a basic wildland firefighting course and have at least one season as a wildland firefighter.  Some years we offer an entry level dispatcher course, and a course to train peole who would like to work in the finance section of a fire. The dispatch and finance courses do not require previous firefighter experience, but it is helpful to understand what occurs on a wildfire incident to gain a sense of empathy for those folks who respond to such things.

The target group of students is made up of members of the agencies in the Southwest Montana Zone: Lolo NF, Bitterroot NF, CSKT, DNRC, fire departments and fire districts in the zone. The people from these agencies receive a higher priority for any opening in the classes. If there is room, other people may take the courses, provided they meet the course prerequisites. Private individuals may take the courses and pay for them if their home agency won't pay, but many people who work in other geographic areas take our courses and their home units usually agree to pay the tuition.

How are the agencies billed?

We send out a letter along with an invoice listing those who completed each course to their training representative. They can pay directly using either a credit card or a purchase order. IF a student has been selected to attend the course and doesn't show up, the agency will be billed a cancellation fee unless other arrangements have been made. The standard cancellation deadline is enforced two weeks before the class begins. If notice is received prior to the course deadline, no charge will be billed.

Can we send a replacement?

If an enrolled student cancels after the cancellation deadline, the home unit may be charged a cancellation fee. Home units should attempt to send a qualified replacement in this case. If a replacement is sent, no cancellation fee would apply. If the home unit does not have a replacement student and there is a waiting list for the course, we will select someone from the waiting list and the cancelling home unit wil not be charged.

Will I get notified if I am in the course?

Yes. We send a selection package out shortly after the course nomination deadline has passed. Selection package us usually made up of the following:

  • A letter listing who is in the course, so that others can car pool to the course.
  • Any pre-course work or reading necessary to pass the course
  • A parking permit for the Univeristy of Montana that is valid in the "permitted" areas, not for the hourly areas.
  • A map of Missoula for those people from outside the Missoula area
  • A map of the University with the building where the course is held highlighted.

Where are courses held?

Most courses are held in the James E. Todd Continuing Education building, which is on the SE corner of the University Center at the University of Montana. Occasionally courses will be held at other sites such as the Northern Rockies Training Center at the Aerial Fire Depot at the Missoula airport, or possibly at the Lubrecht State Forest, which is about 40 miles NE of Missoula.

Who are the instructors?

We use a variety of instructors who work for a variety of agencies such as members of the Lolo Interagency Hotshot Crew, The Bitterroot National Forest, Florence and Missoula Rural Fire Districts, The Missoula Smokejumber Base, Etc.

Can I get a Red Card if I take these courses?

Unfortunately, you can't get a red card from the University of Montana for taking these courses. If you pass the course, you will be issued a National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) Certificate of Completion. If you work for a wildland firefighting agency such as the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, or Bureau of Indian Affairs your agency will award position competency. If you work for a fire district or deparment, you can usually get one from your agency.

Where can I get the basic wildland firefighting training so I can be a firefighter?

We do not provide the basic wildland firefighting course through this program, and there are several ways you could get the training. If you have never been a firefighter before, you may want ot check out this link:

You could get a job with a firefighting agency and then get trained when you show up for work. If you would like to have the training before applying for a job, there are several options:

How do I stay on top of the training center's news and events?

Follow us on Twitter or check our website frequently

How do I request a completion letter of a course I have taken in the past?

To request a past completion letter please contact:

Debbra Graham
(406) 243-4623 


Chris M. Johnson
Forest Service Program Coordinator