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Basic Firefighter

RFS Qualification: Bush Firefighter

Abreviation: BF


The Bush Firefighter (BF) program is targeted at suitable people with no or little previous experience or expertise in fighting bush fires (i.e. new members who want to become firefighters). It is the minimum standard needed for people to actively participate in fighting bush fires.

Bush Firefighter (BF) is an internal RFS mainstream program for persons to carry out bush firefighting activities under direct supervision. It is designed to enable suitable people to operate within a supervised team of firefighters using relevant equipment and communications to control bush fires safely and effectively.



The following unit/s of competency are aligned with this program:

National Code
Title of Unit of Competency
Prevent Injury
All five units are
integrated together
into the BF program
Respond To Wildfire
Operate Communications Systems and Equipment
Work in a Team
Work Effectively in a Public Safety Organisation

Note: BF qualifications issued prior to the 2003 standard (i.e. using the eight ‘old’ BP modules) provide national recognition only in the first three units listed above.


Prerequisites & Co-requisities:

There are no national units of competency required as prerequisites for commencing BF training. PUATEA001A Work in a Team and PUATEA004A Work Effectively in a Public Safety Organisation are co-requisites for each other. PUAFIR201A Prevent Injury is a prerequisite for PUAFIR204A Respond to Wildfire. The BF program is structured to take these requirements into account.


Assessment and Certification:

The summative assessment for each applicant shall have three components:

- 20 to 25 questions (either oral, short written answer, or multiple choice) covering the theoretical subject matter. (The multiple-choice format pass mark is to be in the 70-80% range). This component is to be completed before the practical component of the assessment.

- A practical assessment in which their performance as a firefighter is observed during at least three simulated bush firefighting scenarios. The scenarios shall be plausible, safely simulated and cover a reasonable range of events. The scenarios shall include a typical direct attack, an indirect attack and defensive operations at simulated bush fires.

- Confirmation from trainers and officers who have observed the performance of applicants that the specified performance requirements have been met and are applied consistently.

The practical assessment should be conducted when trainees have completed all the relevant learning and practice sessions, or may be integrated within the final practice sessions. A holistic approach to assessment should be used. The assessment should combine the related competencies in ways that they will need to be used at actual incidents. In particular, the applicant should show clear evidence that they can satisfy the following:

Performance Fight bush fires under constant direct supervision
Conditions In a typical range of environments, in the relevant mode (offensive or defensive, as instructed), using typical bush firefighting and associated communications equipment and procedures, while acting as part of a team,
and dealing with any contingencies that could reasonably be expected to arise
Standard Such that operations are conducted without injury, losses are minimised, activities are well coordinated and operational objectives are achieved.



A face-to-face component designed to develop the participant’s bush firefighting competencies during a structured training course with a nominal duration of 20 hours. This is normally conducted at a local District/Team/Zone level using local facilities, trainers and assessors.

Note: Distance education or e-learning may be used as alternative approaches to cover the underpinning knowledge component of the program, provided adequate learner support is made available (e.g. by phone/email) and that persons with limited literacy or numeracy skills can still effectively participate in the program.

Practice in applying, developing and consolidating those competencies by participating in a specified set of less formal learning activities, either within their own brigade or otherwise provided by local trainers until the needed standard of performance is reached (typically over about 20 hours of activities).

The training content shall include the following topics of underpinning knowledge:
- Importance of firefighter health and fitness - stress and fatigue identification and control.
- Firefighting and other hazards – identification, reporting, precautions and control.
- Use, care and limitations of personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Participating in the Service’s health, safety and welfare arrangements.
- Interpersonal communication and team participation techniques.
- Service and brigade organisation.
- Quality of service and expected code of conduct.
- Disciplinary matters and grievance handling procedures.
- Certification and licensing requirements – access to training and RPL.
- Communications equipment – operation, procedures, care and limitations.
- Bush fire behaviour and the factors affecting it – and how bush fires involve structures.
- Extinguishing media and techniques – sources, characteristics and limitations.
- Use of firefighting and ancillary equipment – and associated signals.
- Firefighting strategies, tactics and procedures.

The training content shall include the following applied knowledge and skills:
- Safety hazard identification, reporting, precautions and control.
- Use and care of personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Interpersonal communication skills - (e.g. signals, listening, sharing information and feedback).
- Team skills – (e.g. active participation and team support skills).
- Practical equipment familiarisation – safe, effective use and care.
- Practical firefighting techniques, drills and exercises.
- Practical use of communications equipment and procedures.

Relevant safety aspects need to be covered before practical activities are undertaken. Practical work should commence with simple skills and progress through increasingly complex drills to exercises that replicate typical bush firefighting operations.


Recognition of Prior Learning / Recognition Current Competence:

- Prior to commencing the program, each applicant should be advised of, and should consider the possibility of gaining certification through, recognition of prior learning (RPL).

- Next the applicant should check the likelihood of successful RPL by honestly answering the self-evaluation questions in the How to Become Qualified in BF Booklet/CD-ROM.

- If those answers indicate RPL is likely to be successful, the applicant should compile the relevant evidence and seek RPL as indicated in How to Become Qualified in BF Booklet.

- If those answers indicate that RPL is likely for part of the program, the applicant should speak with their trainer/assessor about possible exemption from that part of the program.

If those answers indicate that RPL is unlikely, they should participate in the full program.


Competency Maintenance:

- Shelf life - BF certification has an indefinite shelf life. However, challenge testing and/or refresher training may be required if the qualification has not been used for more than three years or there is evidence that current performance is not to the needed standard.

- Recent experience requirement – No requirements are specified, but it is recommended that BF competencies be practiced at least once a year, or more often with less experienced personel.


Basics Firefighting Modules:

Module 1 Course introduction
Module 2 Firefighter safety principles
Module 3 Basic principles of fire
Module 4 Fire fighting agents
Module 5 First attack fire fighting
Module 6 Bush fire behaviour
Module 7 Bush fire development
Module 8 Types of bush fire
Module 9 Safety risk assessment
Module 10 Handtools, knapsacks, ropes and ladders
Module 11 Hoses and small equipment
Module 12 Water supplies and equipment
Module 13 Bush fire fighting techniques
Module 14 Bush fire hazard reduction
Module 15 Immediate emergency care
Module 16 Bush fire fighting team work
Module 17 Radio communications
Module 18 Rural fire Brigades
Module 19 Practice / Assessment briefing
Module 20 Course evaluation



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