Standard Operating
  1. Wildfires
  2. Review of Laws and Regulations
  3. Prescribed Burn Unit Plans
  4. Personnel Qualifications
  5. PPE
  6. Annual Fitness Screening and Safety Refresher
  7. Reporting Incidents
  8. Annual Summary Reports

Physical Fitness Requirements

All Conservancy personnel must be screened annually for physical fitness using accepted testing methods to be considered "current" in position qualifications. The minimum level of required fitness varies among wildland fire positions as noted in the personnel secion of this manual and in Wildland Fire Qualification System Guide PMS 310-1. A Conservancy Fire Manager may require an increased level of fitness for any position on specific burns or sites, depending on factors such as topography, fuels or climate.

For technical specialist positions not found in this manual or in PMS 310-1, such as Dozer Operator or Technical Specialists of various types, the Fire Manager will follow the minimum physical fitness standards of relevant agency partners (see Interagency Red Book).

2020 Notice

Due to Covid-19 health hazards, annual physical fitness testing, including pack test, timed run, or other assessments of fitness is not required for personnel (staff and volunteers) who have successfully completed a fitness test during the calendar year of 2019. Local TNC managers must still screen all individuals using the Par-Q Documentation.

All new workers must complete appropriate physical fitness testing in a way that includes hygeine and physical distancing practices as advised for limiting the spread of COVID-19 and the associated virus.

Testing Procedures

All participants taking a physical fitness test should read and sign the document "Par-Q and You" before taking the test. It is a brief questionnaire designed to make individuals aware of the risks involved in taking a fitness test, and acknowledge that they understand those risks. Some partner agencies may use alternate self-assessment checklists or worksheets. These are acceptable for cooperative fire management activities. Download the Par-Q document.

The preferred method of assessing physical fitness for the Conservancy is the pack test, also called the work capacity test. A Fire Manager may administer a running test should a person be unable to perform a pack test. A doctor's certification of fitness level can also be used, as described below. Performance criteria for fitness levels are as follows:

Pack test

  • Light – 1 mile hike in 16 minutes, no pack
  • Moderate – 2 mile hike with 25 pound pack in 30 minutes
  • Arduous – 3 mile hike with 45 pound pack in 45 minutes

Running test

  • Moderate – 1.5 miles in 13 minutes, 20 seconds
  • Arduous – 1.5 miles in 11 minutes, 45 seconds

Thresholds of 1.5-mile timed run test correlate to aerobic capacity (VO2 max) of 40 (ml/kg/min) for moderate and 45 for arduous fitness levels (Burger, etal, 1990). As appropriate, a Fire Manager administering a running test will consider restrictions on a person's assigned tasks based upon any limitations in lifting and carrying that may exist.

Doctor's Certification

The doctor’s certification can be used under special circumstances if a person is unable to complete the field tests for fitness. This option requires a physical examination by a physician and a written report of the person's fitness level. Appropriate restrictions on the person's assigned tasks will be made and addressed in the burn plan or Incident Action Plan (IAP) if needed. Use of the doctor's certification to assess fitness level will be decided by the Fire Manager, consulting with the Fire Management Coordinator when medical restrictions may create unusual situations.

See the Pack Test Information Sheet for a one-page summary of the work capacity test.

Working with Cooperators and Out-of-Area Assignments

Conservancy personnel participating in wildland fire assignments with partner organizations may need to achieve a higher level of fitness than described in this Manual or the NWCG 310-1. This will be determined in conjunction with your Fire Manager and partners. All staff and volunteers must meet at minimum the position specific fitness level listed in NWCG 310-1 to receive incident qualification cards ("red cards") from the Conservancy and participate in out-of-area assignments.

Last updated November 6, 2020.

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