USA — It’s a field dominated by men, but with a wicked wildfire season expected once again this summer, a new program aimed at adding women to the ranks is now a top priority.
The USDA Forest Service has started a women’s wild land fire fighting boot camp.
Seventeen women from across the state participated. Digging hand lines, learning vital survival tactics and preparing for anything as a newly trained fire fighter. It’s a class directors hope will clear the path for women everywhere.
“Every one here is just really gung-ho!” said veteran forest service fire fighter Bequi Livingston. “They’ve got the mental fortitude. They’ve got the physical capabilities, and women can really rock in wild land fire.”
Rene Hernandez agrees.
“I got bit by the firebug,” Hernandez said. The soon to be fire fighter from Las Cruces says having a few females on the team will ignite the department.
Another added bonus is that with the Forest Service’s recent budget cuts, the new recruits will help fill much need positions.
“Hopefully some of these women will help augment those crews, and we’re really hoping some of them get hired on as seasonal fire fighters this summer,” Livingston explained.
Once the gals graduate, they could be deployed all over the Southwest and even the nation.
The boot camp is the first of it’s kind anywhere and due to it’s success, teams from other states like Idaho, California and Arizona plan to implement similar programs.