Debbie Santiago is an exuberant and enthusiastic fire mitigation and education specialist in the Bakersfield Field Office. She was born in Alamogordo, New Mexico and lived in Eagle Rock, California until her family moved to a ranch in Wasco, California when she was in the 8th grade. It was here that her deep love of the outdoors germinated.
Most of her concentration goes to educating the public, and most especially children, about the many aspects of fire management, particularly fire danger, fire safety and defensible space.
She works closely with community fire safe councils, and coordinates with numerous partners including the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and county fire agencies. She also investigates the causes of fires.
But her passion is education, "I love doing environmental education programs, with 6th graders especially," she says. "Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl, and Sparky the Firefighting Dog are my best friends."
Debbie started with the BLM as a Hotshot in 1988, as only the second woman to make the crew. She says "It changed my life. I found my niche and love it regardless of the big challenges we federal government employees experience and endure."
Her background is fascinatingly diverse, from law enforcement to retail, but it has been the last 17 years "with the fire guys," and the hundreds of people in the fire family from many states that she cherishes.
Debbie has traveled extensively, with trips to Alaska, Florida, Wyoming, Idaho, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, North Carolina, Tennessee, Montana and Yellowstone representing the BLM in firefighting and informational efforts.
Debbie enjoys the beach, time with loved ones and sharing life with wonderful people. "Living, loving, laughing.....family, friend, animals...what else is there?"