Fire Stories

Fire stories from the national parks highlight events, incidents, and the like, associated with fire and fuels management, as well as fire education, technology, partnerships, and more. Stories highlight work related to Department of the Interior initiatives as well as local and regional initiatives.

Corps Responds Crew from Conservation Corps North Bay assisting with the Highway One prescribed fire at Point Reyes National Seashore in 2010.

Emergency Response Youth Corps Assists Parks,
Develops Workforce

Point Reyes National Seashore, California
National Fire Plan, ARRA—Fuels Reduction*

In 2010, several fire management projects provided valuable job experience for the Corps Respond program, through a longstanding partnership between the National Park Service and Conservation Corps Northbay (CCNB). Corps Respond is an AmeriCorps program, administered locally by CCNB, that focuses on developing skills and experience with disaster preparedness, including work on fuel breaks.

The CCNB Corps Respond crew worked on the Bolinas Ridge fuel break, Highway One prescribed burns and Estero prescribed burn at Point Reyes National Seashore, as well as eucalyptus thinning and burn box research burns in Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Jordan Reeser, Fuels Management Specialist for the SF Bay Area National Parks said it was beneficial to have a youth development program with wildland fire and chainsaw training built in. "The extra training plus the fact that they have their fire qualifications card gives us more opportunities to use these crews. Also, when people choose a fire training program, I know there's a work ethic there." Corps Respond crew members go through the same wildland fire academy as the regular seasonal fire crews.

The corps members appreciated the professional development offered by the park projects. "We got to work right beside the fire crew. I got a lot of chainsaw time on Bolinas Ridge -- we got to fall a lot of trees. I definitely feel more confident using power tools," said Kelsey Setliff, one of the Corps Respond crew members. Darren Bresse, another Corps Respond crew member said that participating in the prescribed burns was "the highlight of the year for many corps members," and expects that several of them will be pursuing fire careers when their service term is up. Darren considered the opportunities to be "life-changing."

For instance, Kelsey said, "we got a chance to see what the fire crew does on a daily basis. I also got to talk to the fire ecologist about why we were doing the burns and the natural resources we are protecting.On the burns, we used the lateral hoses to put down wet line it was the first time I got to be on the hose since fire academy."

Crew supervisor Chad Hedge was impressed by the mentoring from the NPS. "Jordan and his crew were really helpful. They would stop to explain chainsaw techniques and they didn't make us feel out of place at the morning briefing."

Having a local resource to help with holding operations on the prescribed burns meant not bringing in another module from farther away. This saved time and money for the park, and gave the corps members a chance to find out about fire jobs they might apply for in the future. Several corps members have already applied to the wildland firefighter apprentice program with the USDA Forest Service, and will be pursuing fire careers. The 2010 collaboration between CCNB and the S.F. Bay Area National Parks is a great model for a fire career development program that can be continued locally.

Contact: Jennifer Chapman, Fire Communication and Education Specialist
Phone: (415) 464-5133

*This story supports Department of the Interior initiatives.