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.

Kids sit on picnic tables under a shelter listening to a firefighter.

Students watch as an instructor demonstrates chainsaw safety during the May 2013 Hot Shots summer camp.

The 21st Century Fire Education Program

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
Cohesive Strategy—Fire-Adapted Human Communities*

In 2009, Mammoth Cave National Park signed an agreement with Barren County Middle School, partnering with the school to offer three week-long summer camps in conjunction with the school's 21st Century Learning Center. The park's environmental education program developed camps that focus on water/hydrology, nature/cave exploration, and fire. The fire camp was dubbed “Hot Shots.”

Hot Shots campers stand and watch a chainsaw demonstration taking place near a grove of trees.

Students watch as an instructor demonstrates chainsaw safety during the May 2013 Hot Shots summer camp.

A firefighter with a fire shelter around him.

An instructor demonstrates the proper use of a wildland fire shelter.

In May 2013, 25 Hot Shots campers met in the park and learned about the fire triangle, fire safety, fire chemistry, and firefighting. Brice Leech, natural resources specialist and a Type 1 firefighter and squad boss, as well as a B-class sawyer, demonstrated chainsaw safety and the use of fire shelters to the campers and their parents.

Superintendent Sarah Craighead noted the many ways the Hot Shots camp contributes to children’s learning and connection with nature. "The Hot Shots Camp is based on middle school science and math, and gives the students an understanding of fire's role in the environment," Craighead stated. "Campers are immersed in the mystery and wonders of physical science and biology. Getting the kids in the park, touching, feeling and smelling nature builds a connection now that will help them be good stewards of public lands in the future."

During the past several years, Mammoth Cave has developed and greatly supported the Great Onyx Job Corps firefighter crew, a job program oriented toward young adults. In addition, the park has played a role in maintaining a qualified firefighting resource that has responded to numerous fires throughout the southeastern United States.

Contact:Sarah Craighead, Superintendent

E-mail: sarah_craighead@nps.gov

Phone: (270) 758-2180

*This story supports the Department of the Interior initiatives.