Frequently Asked Questions

Your Fire Training Questions Answered

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 people 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.

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.

If you have any billing questions or need to pay an invoice, please contact Ginger Claussen at (406) 243-4623 or

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 canceling home unit will not be charged.

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 University 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.

Most courses are held in the James E. Todd Center, which is next to the University Center on the University of Montana campus. 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.

NOTE: The University of Montana is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for its employees, students, and visitors. In light of the U.S. Surgeon General's findings that exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke and use of tobacco are significant health hazards, UM is a tobacco-free campus as of Fall 2011. For more information, visit

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 Smokejumper Base, etc.

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 department, you can usually get one from your agency.

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 to check out

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:

Check our website frequently and follow us on Twitter (@SWMTzoneTC).

To request past course completion letters please contact Amy Saltzman at (406) 243-4623 or