Saipan,Northern Mariana Islands,Micronesia — Three officials from the U.S. Forest Service are on Saipan for the yearly training of people interested to become Hotshot firefighters who assist in fighting wildfires in the U.S. mainland.
Ron Bollier, Fulton Hotshot superintendent; Mike Alarid, Bear Divide Hotshot superintendent; and Robert Garcia, Bear Divide Hotshot captain; all from California, started the training yesterday at the Department of Public Safety’s police training academy.
Joe Molhoek, a fire management officer for the National Park Service, has joined the three Hotshot officials in the training of 30 participants composed of firefighters and civilian volunteers.
Bollier told the Saipan Tribune that those who complete the five-day training would be certified as wildland firefighters.
The physical part of the training is very rigorous, Bollier said, adding that they have been conducting the yearly training on Saipan for six years now.
There are Hotshot teams from the CNMI, Guam, American Samoa, and Hawaii. When the teams are activated, they are sent to the mainland where there are large wildfires in April to November.
“They are of tremendous help. They can supplement the wildland firefighters in the mainland. And if there is a big wildfire here, they can be very helpful,” said Bollier of the local Hotshots.
In 2004, 20 members of the CNMI Hotshot were sent to California. Last year, the local Hotshot team was not activated because there weren’t that many large fires, Bollier said.