IDAHO CITY, Idaho — More than 50 new wildland firefighting recruits finished training Thursday as they hiked into the National Forest and conducted a live-fire training drill.
The training started in the classroom Monday and finished with recruits digging lines to contain a fire just days later.
"The fire doesn’t stop unless there are boots on the ground, so the people here today are the tip of the spear for putting fires out locally, regionally, and nationally," said Ryan Shannahan a trainer with the U.S. Forest Service. "They represent everyone else across the country that does the same job."
Idaho City native Sam Rober took the training and plans on fighting fires this summer.
He called the training a breath of fresh air, even with all the smoke, because he felt isolated after going off to college during the pandemic.
"Honestly it is just that team aspect out in the field. That constant communication just back and forth and solving problems as a group that I missed," said Rober. "I missed it a lot so I’m glad to be back."
Safety is the biggest key when working with fire and performing a controlled burn, but that gave leaders another teaching opportunity. Training leaders explained everything that needs to be considered before doing something like this.
"So we take these drip torches that have a mixture of diesel and gas," said Rich Zimmerlee another trainer with the forest service. "We definitely have to be smart weather, wind, temperature, humidity, live fuel moisture, and dead fuel moisture are all considered."
These recruits learned the proper way to dig a fire line which is important in fighting wildfires because removing fuel for the fire to burn is one of the best ways to prevent a fire from raging out of control.
After finishing the training, these men and women will head off to their next venture where they will receive more direct training for the specific job that they will perform.
"All week we talked about safety and communication," said Rober. "It was exciting though they set some stuff on fire, we sucked down some smoke, and put it out for them so that was kind of cool."
Fighting wildland fires is hard work so as we approach Memorial Day Weekend and summer recreation it is important for people to be vigilant and prevent starting fires so these brave men and women don't get overworked.
The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise shared these tips and they have many more on their website.