South Carolina Forestry Commission
News Release

January 13, 2003


(COLUMBIA, SC) - Thirty-two state and local firefighters are now physically qualified for almost any wildland firefighting assignment in the United States. The firefighters recently attained the Arduous level of fitness on the national wildland firefighter physical fitness test.

To qualify at the Arduous level, firefighters must walk three miles in 45 minutes while carrying a 45-pound backpack. Among wildland firefighters, only smokejumpers are required to meet a higher physical fitness standard.

Qualifying firefighters represented the Forestry Commission, the Department of Natural Resources, Colleton County Fire and Rescue, Hilton Head Island Fire and Rescue, Fountain Inn Fire Department, and Midway Fire Department of Pawley’s Island.

According to Forestry Commission Fitness Coordinator Leslie Woodham, the test evaluates a person’s capacity for sustained exertion. The test was adopted as the national standard for wildland firefighter fitness in 1999.

In the most demanding wildland firefighting scenarios, firefighters are expected to perform hard manual labor for up to 12 hours at a time. Rough terrain, smoke, dust, and weather extremes often combine to make the work even more difficult.

Properly trained state and local firefighters who meet the fitness requirements may volunteer for federal wildland firefighting assignments nationwide.


For more information, contact: Ken Cabe, pager 803-343-4200.

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