Forest Service Puts Women Through Wildland Firefighting Boot Camp

Forest Service Puts Women Through Wildland Firefighting Boot Camp

08 February 2015

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USA — The Los Padres National Forest is training 16 women to become on-call wildland firefighters.

The forest service is trying to diversify its ranks.

“We’re trying to reach out to our under represented classes and women are one of them in the fire ranks. We got grant funding to put on this diversity boot camp.” Division Chief Mark Von Tillow said.

The four-day boot camp covers the basics of wildland fire fighting, and physical training.

It’s the first of its kind in California.

Of the 200 women who applied, 20 were accepted. Sixteen women showed up for training.

Several of them are from Santa Barbara County.

The goal is to complete the program and pass the Agency Work Capacity Test. This involves a three-mile walk that must be completed wearing a 45-pound weight vest in less than 45 minutes.

The women will then get their ‘red card,’ which means they are able to be deployed to a wildland fire.

The position is not a guarantee of permanent or full-time work, but it is a starting point.

“They need to maintain networking. A lot of it is on them. They have to go out and apply and compete with everybody else,” Von Tillow said.

The Los Padres National Forest covers roughly 1.9 million acres across mid-California.

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