U.S. Forest Service Trains Hondurans in Specialized Wildfire Fighting

With the effects of climate change yielding longer, more intense droughts in Central America, conditions are becoming increasingly threatening for devastating wildfires. These dangers are amplified in places like Honduras where infrastructure, access to water, and technical training is limited.

To mitigate these risks, the United States Forest Service (USFS) is dedicated to proactively assisting countries in developing their own internal disaster management capabilities before a crisis strikes. That’s why in March of 2023, 35 Honduran professionals were trained in the U.S. Forest Service Specialized Wildfire Fighter Course NWCG S-130. The S-130 course, developed by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, teaches entry level wildland firefighting skills and includes such topics as safety, preparedness, tools and equipment, firing devices, use of water, suppression, securing control lines, use of maps, and scouting.

Providing this training aims to bolster the active personnel assigned to combat wildfires by Honduras’ National Institute of Forest Conservation (ICF in Spanish) in addition to other local organizations. The course also contributes to the efforts of the International Agency to standardize processes and strategies to better fight and prevent wildfires.

The program was held at the National University of Forestry Sciences’ (UNACIFOR) Integrated Forestry Training Center in Siguatepeque, Honduras. In attendance were national and international certified instructors from the ICF, the Honduran Firefighter Corps, UNACIFOR, and the U.S. Forest Service.

“This specialized course aims to ensure that all organizations and national institutions have the same language of communication, strategy, and command at the time of a wildfire incident, so that we can work together and safely combat it effectively,” explained Nazario Valladares, Fire Extension Instructor for USFS.

Along with the S-130 course, the 35 wildfire fighters also participated in the S-190: Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior, L-180: Human Factors on the Fireline, and I-100: Incident Command System. These additional courses are designed to train fire personnel not only how to fight wildfires, but also how to manage just about any type of incident they may be involved in while working effectively with other agencies during a disaster.


Daniela Hernández, a female wildfire fighter and representative of the Forest Protection Department, participated in the training. She expressed the significance of this type of instruction at the organizational level.

“The importance of this type of course, especially the S-130, is very important because it’s great to improve ICF capacities in combating wildfires. We are the main entity at the national level to regulate fire management as a country, so to learn and understand the level of techniques, communications, and strategies, bring us to a whole new level.”

During the first three days of instruction, the firefighters received various training modules that will help standardize their knowledge across the multiple organizations for which they work. Among the topics covered were: report writing, duties and responsibilities of each position, equipment and tools, development of incident command, logistics and planning, safety zones, firefighting techniques, control lines, efficient use of water, radio communication, recommendations in interface fires, and risk management.

On the fourth and last day of the training, the 35 wildfire personnel carried out practical activities in the UNACIFOR pine forest, where they conducted field training tests, constructed a 600 meter firebreak line, and simulated safety zones and wildfire attack drills.

Dennis Pineda, a technician with the Association of Municipalities of Celaque Mountain National Park (MAPANCE) thanked USFS for its support.

“This kind of training for technicians strengthens our knowledge about wildfires. Personally, I am very happy, very grateful to the training process and to the U.S. Forest Service. We are in the process of standardization, knowledge, and being able to work with other institutions involved in this issue.”


Nelson Castellanos, a technician with the “Padre Andrés Tamayo” Presidential Conservation Program and in charge of a wildfire fighting crew in the municipality of Sensenti, Ocotepeque, explains the importance of this type of training at the local level.

“I am very happy to have participated in this training. The course was very well organized and designed. This course is useful for me to put into practice with the crew assigned to me. It also helps us to inform the general public about the importance of each of the practices and elements we learned.”

Although prolonged droughts and increased risks of wildfires are not diminishing anytime soon, the people of Honduras can take some comfort in the knowledge that their country is assembling a powerful response capable of fighting fires, preserving forests, and saving lives.

The U.S. Forest Service thanks the organizations waterboard committee of Siguatepeque (Aguas de Siguatepeque), Fire Department Corps, MAPANCE, Forest Conservation Institute and the Municipal Emergency Committee of Siguatepeque and local organizations for their presence in this course.

This story was originally posted on medium.com