Submitted by Alicia Bennett, Public Affairs Officer, U. S. Forest Service Job Corps
The Flatwoods and Angell Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center fire programs have been working together successfully for over 4 years. The two programs coordinate vehicles and Job Corps Firefighters to support the Eastern (R9) and Southern (R8) Regions’ fall and spring wildland and prescribed fire seasons, producing eight person Job Corps suppression modules that deploy as the Lonesome Pine Crew. The crew has devoted the Fall 2022 field season to supporting the Wayne National Forest in Ohio, covering the Athens and Ironton Ranger Districts.
The Wayne National Forest recently initiated a collaboration with the Department of Energy, Office of Legacy Management at its Fernald Preserve (DOE) in Hamilton Ohio. The DOE asked the Wayne National Forest to conduct Rx burns on the preserve to help maintain a native prairie species and reduce non-native species on the landscape.
In December 2022, with Wayne National Forest employees at the helm of the prescribed burn operation, the Lonesome Pine Crew had the good fortune to assist on this landmark project. It was an amazing opportunity for the four Job Corps students on the Lonesome Pine Crew. “This being my first prescribed fire and I was a bit nervous coming into it,” says Flatwoods Job Corps student Tristen Twomey “After seeing the confidence of the Firing Boss Trainee and the other overhead, it was easier to be more relaxed. Overall, this was a really good learning experience.”
Wayne National Forest overhead were extremely supportive in giving all of the Job Corps students every opportunity to participate in critical burn operation functions and tasks that surround safe prescribed fire operations. “I learned the difference between wildfire and prescribed fire and the difference is that you don’t just throw fire on the ground,” says Angell Job Corps student Jacob Allen. “You need to account for the weather, wind, fuel, and environment at all times and keep your head on a swivel.”
The Job Corps students also learned about and used drip torches to implement firing operations, utilized UTV water pumps in mobile attack fashion to suppress the fires edge, and used handle tools and/or bladder bags. “I learned how to hold the fire by putting it out with my boots or tool and how to assemble the torch and hold it right and light by walking straight with it on your side,” says Angell Job Corps student Marc Galindo.
For Musa Omerambe, who recently immigrated to the United States from the Democratic Republic of Congo, every aspect of the experience was eye opening. “It was exciting to be a part of this,” he says. “I gained new skills each time I worked with different crew members [Wayne National Forest employees and Job Corps overhead].”
The efforts of the 24 Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers directly supports our agency’s strategic goal of sustaining our nation’s forests and grasslands and delivering benefits to the public. If your Forest Service Region is interested in hosting a Job Corps fuels module, contact Acting Deputy Fire Program Coordinator Gabe Templeton at [email protected] or Deputy Fire Program Coordinator Justin Abbey at [email protected].