Are you are getting bored with your life? Do you like the outdoors and hard physical activity? Does the smell of a campfire get your juices flowing? If you answered yes to all of the above, I have a career opportunity for you.
Wildfires have always been a part of the natural world. Prairie fires renewed the grassland ecology, forest fires in the west kept the woods thinned and park-like. Many of the fire dependent species such as the giant sequoias kept reproducing due to the serotinous cones opening up and dropping out their seeds due to the heat of the fires. Native Americans used fire to create habitat for hunting wildlife.
Due to extensive logging, coal fired locomotives and a dry summer period, wildfires spread throughout the nation in 1910. As a result, with disregard for the natural ecology of fire, and of course political overreaction, a policy of extinguishing forest fires was implemented, and the Forest Fire Service was created.
Over time, the effect of the policy was the buildup of fuels in many western forests. Fuels of another sort also built up, housing was spreading out from cities and deep into the western forests. Combined, we now have what is known as the wild-land/urban interface.
If you’ve ever watched the news reporting extensive forest fires, saw the flames and fire whorls ripping into the air like tornados and said to yourself, “man, I would like to be there,” then training for a wild-land firefighter is for you. The Department of Environmental Conservation has a training program to get you started in this intense career. You will need to take the S-130 and S-190 courses and pass what is called a Work Capacity Test (WCP). This is a physical endurance test which requires you to carry a 45 pound pack for 3 miles in less than 45 minutes.
The S-130 Firefighter Training course covers safety, tools, fire suppression, fire shelters, and the watch out situations, a firefighter needs to know and keep in mind at all times.
The S-190 course, Wild-land Fire Behavior, covers weather, fuels, and topography and a fires reaction to these influences.
Once you’ve completed these basics, including the arduous level pack test, you can move up to other classes offered at the DEC training center on Long Island. Advanced courses are in portable pump operations, wildfire chainsaw use, (S-212) engine operations etc. After completing the classes you can be placed on a list of eligible firefighters available for out-of-state fire duty. A tour of duty is 16 days straight, one day on each end for travel and 14 straight days of ground pounding grunt fire line work clearing fire lines, moving brush, and cutting trees, along with fire suppression.
The Albany Pine Bush also offers training and yearly refresher classes to keep you certified as a wild-land firefighter. Once you become certified, you are eligible to be a volunteer at the Pine Bush for wildlife habitat restoration work, where they have prescribed fires for vegetation control. They plant warm season grasses and lupines on burned off sites for grassland birds and the karner blue butterflies.
If working on a fire line doing fire suppression activities gets you going, and you need a little wild-land fire adventure, call the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation or the Albany Pine Bush for training information, and refresher dates. The phone numbers are, NYS-DEC -402-8839 and the Albany Pine Bush -456-0655.
Essex County to vote on SAFE Act
The Essex County Board of Supervisors Safe Act subcommittee met Monday, March 11 to review the controversial gun act. The committee composed of Chairman Gerald Morrow, Tom Scozzafava, Margaret Bartley and Ron Moore met with other supervisors sitting in to discuss resolutions to repeal or to amend the Safe Act. All members agreed that there are parts of the bill they agree with and sections that need to be taken out. Margaret Bartley’s resolution was in favor of amending the law, while both resolutions put forth by Morrow and Moore were in favor of outright repealing the law based on the Constitutionality and infringement of 2nd Amendment rights. All of the supervisors and any members of the public were invited to speak, Mr. Morrow stating “we want an open forum where the people decide, no closed door policy making”. The meeting was very open and the crowed thanked the supervisors for the transparency.
The final resolution will go before the full Board of Supervisors at a special meeting March 18 at 6 pm to allow a broader participation in the process. Board Chairman Randy Douglas was thanked by the supervisors for setting up this important meeting.
Rich Redman is a retired District Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and an avid outdoorsman. His column will appear regularly. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.