Fire Training Opportunity Provides Real-World Experience

Three of the 29 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) fire crew members who recently responded to the front lines of the 129-acre Smoketree fire in Palm Springs are young women who pursued an opportunity in fire management through a partnership that provides training and experience. As a result, the women found a passion and potentially a career within the firefighting community. These Inland Empire Crew 5 members are a positive example of the partnership between the BLM California Desert District and the State of California’s Conservation Corps (CCC), formed to build a crew of diverse young adults to assist with the BLM fire and fuels management mission. 

Two fire fighters posing for a photo during a lunch brake
Emily Grimes (left) and Audrey Sahagun (right)
during lunch break at the Skoletree Fire.

In addition to the Smoketree fire, Inland Empire Crew 5 has been busy and hard at work completing a variety of fire assignments within southern California and throughout the state.  They have cut and chipped vegetation within fuel breaks, created community defense areas, and conducted prescribed burns. As fire season continues, the crew will work throughout the California Desert District helping to prevent and fight wildfires. 

This unique BLM and CCC joint program was launched in August 2018, and the initial crew of 13 completed their first project in October 2018, which was to clear more than 50 acres of hazardous fuels along a roadway near the U.S. / Mexico border used by Border Patrol agents, first responders, and the public. In the event of a wildfire, this preventative treatment would allow people to safely escape the fire area.  The crew’s work, treating over 600 acres to date, also helps reduces the threat of wildfire to natural resources and infrastructure while providing areas for firefighters to engage in suppression operations during future wildfires. 

The chance to learn about fire management and additional BLM career opportunities is provided throughout the program and corps members gain real-world fire experience. They also learn a variety of fire management and additional land management activities and techniques.  Through this key training and experience, Crew 5 corps members have the opportunity to apply for and gain employment as firefighters with the BLM and other agencies.  Four corps members have already been hired by the BLM this year and others are working with the Forest Service and the Riverside County Habitat Conservation Agency, marking the start of a great career. 

Opportunities are available. If you are 18 to 25 years old, or a military veteran up to age 29; a California resident; able to pass eligibility requirements; interested in working outdoors and responding to emergencies; and want to participate in the training program, consider applying at:  https://go.usa.gov/xwP72