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.

Ricky Shaw helps ignite the Coyote Creek prescribed fire.

Fire Management Hosts Two NPS Youth Intern Program (YIP) Positions for 2010 Fire Season

Redwood National Park, California
National Fire Plan, Firefighting*

Redwood National Park welcomed two Youth Intern Program (YIP) participants into its fire management program during the 2010 season. The two YIP interns, 18-year old Warren Bailey, and 19-year old Ricky Shaw, were fully integrated into Redwood's engine and fuels crews from June through October. As YIP interns, Warren and Ricky worked as both fire engine and prescribed fire crewmembers. In addition to participating in fire drills and training, they worked on fuels reduction projects, prepared prescribed burn units for treatment, and went off-park on fire suppression assignments.

Warren Bailey observes the progression of the Coyote Creek prescribed fire.

YIP is a Servicewide effort to introduce youth, ages 15–25, of diverse backgrounds to employment opportunities within the NPS. This not only benefits young individuals by enhancing their career experience and increasing their knowledge of the NPS mission and its unique resources, but also serves as means to recruit individuals with diverse backgrounds into the NPS workforce.

Having interns engaged in active fire management work is often challenging due to the rigorous training and certification needed to prepare for and mitigate an inherently hazardous work environment. For years, Redwood NP Fire Management has been recruiting individuals at the high school level and encouraging them to attend the basic fire school offered at a local community college. Warren and Ricky had been recruited in this manner and had completed basic fire school, so they came to Redwood's fire management program as YIP interns with incident qualification "red cards." When their two-month YIP internships were over, they were hired as regular members of the engine and fuels crews for the duration of the fire season.

Warren and Ricky, both Crescent City, CA natives, had little work experience prior to becoming YIP interns. When asked how the YIP influenced their career paths, Warren and Ricky had different responses, but they agreed that the program had affected the course of their lives and they were grateful for the experience. While not ruling out a career within fire management, Warren is still exploring career options and he feels his experience as a firefighter has strengthened him as a team player and member of society. "When you spend two weeks, 24/7, with the same four people as part of an engine crew, you learn to overcome differences and relate with people," Warren explains. The experience with crew cohesion and the realization that NPS Fire functions "more like a family; I thought at first that it would be more militant" has helped him become a more mature individual. Ricky held aspirations to pursue a career in fire suppression prior to his YIP internship, but working as part of a fuels crew changed his goals a bit. "I enjoyed working on the fuels crew; I have a better understanding of prescribed fire and how it is used to restore habitat," Ricky stated. "I now want my career to include a broader perspective of fire management, instead of focusing solely on fire suppression." Ricky is currently finishing an associate's degree in Wildland Fire Science from College of the Siskiyous, and then he hopes to join the ranks of NPS Fire Management.

Fire Management Officer Rick Young is pleased with the YIP and is exploring the possibility of expanding the number of YIP fire management interns in the 2011 season and beyond. Rick stated, "through the Youth Intern Program we were able to offer these young adults work experience and expose them to a potential career in fire management that they might not otherwise get a chance to experience, and at the same time the NPS benefited from their willingness to learn and work. I couldn't be more pleased with our experience with the YIP".

Contact: Rick Young, Fire Management Officer
Phone: (707) 465-7730

*This story supports Department of the Interior initiatives.