New Advanced Wildland Firefighter Training Program comes to Treasure Valley

Posted at 9:48 PM, Apr 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-18 23:53:27-04

The Treasure Valley is now home to an Advanced Wildland Firefighter Training Program and the first class of students is already hard at work.

Centennial Job Corps's Nampa site was selected for the program and the first class of 20 students - coming from all over the country - is just beginning their nearly year-long training commitment.

"This area is perfect because, obviously, it's the capital of the fire world," Lucas McFarlin with the Boise National Forest's apprenticeship program said.

Many of the students have no previous fire fighting experience, but over over the next 11 months they'll undergo hundreds of hours of training.

Each student will complete a minimum of 240 hours firefighting experience on hand crews and another minimum 240 hours on fire engines, so the students will be made available to respond to wildland fires on either module type starting on May 1.

"We'll be rotating," student Neelix Bricker said. "So we've got 15 people minimum going out with the hand crew and then five people minimum for the engine crew."

The program made available to Job Corps students give them something to strive for.

"Job Corps helps people get their lives back together, you know, I didn't have my life together and some of these kids might not have their life together either," McFarlin said.

Plus, benefits of the program extend beyond the students, providing local jobs.

"We hire full-time dedicated firefighters to supervise the students and take them out on wildland fires," Boise National Forest Fire Chief Bob Schindelar said. "So not only are we preparing students for careers, we've also created jobs here in Idaho."

Many students enrolled hope the next step is an apprenticeship program, eventually leading to full-time careers with the forest service or other federal land management agencies.