COLORADO – From February through June 2018, 34 prescribed fire modules from the USDA Forest Service Job Corps Wildland Fire Program were mobilized to over a dozen national forests in Regions 8 and 9 to assist fire managers with treating hazardous fuels with prescribed fire.
These 8-person modules are comprised of four Forest Service Job Corps students, with four staff providing leadership. They are self-sufficient with regards to transportation and equipment. The students staffing the modules were from 15 different Job Corps centers from as far away as Oregon and Montana. The students worked on 14-day assignments on a rotating basis under the coordination of the Southern and Eastern Area Coordination Centers.
While working on prescribed burns and other non-suppression activities, these students earn Public Land Corps credit hours instead of being paid. They gained valuable experience in wildland fire, working in a variety of fuel types and conditions. The host forests received much-needed assistance with their hazardous fuels programs at about a 60% cost reduction to the Agency. Students have contributed an estimated $500,000 to the program thus far in 2018. In turn, students earning 640 PLC hours or more can apply for permanent positions under the “Merit” hiring system. From this current batch of participants, six students were hired as wildland fire apprentices this spring during the annual fire hire process.
Forest Service Job Corps and the Forest Service Fire and Aviation Management manage the Job Corps Wildland Fire Program in partnership. Fire managers train students as wildland firefighters, dispatchers, camp crewmembers, cooks and servers at all 25 Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers.
In 2017, Job Corps students responded to over 300 wildfires, providing over 450,000 hours of support while earning nearly $8 million in wages on fire assignments. Over 100 students are actively assisting with fire suppression activities across the west.