Every year there is on average, 300 Arizona wildfires per year, reaching 30,000 acres annually. Half of the fires are started by humans, the rest by lightning. Wild land firefighters fight fires from spring to fall, and are always looking for help. Wild land firefighting involves many classroom hours and special instructions before you will be able to head out into the field, that’s why JTED Fire Science went outdoors to get their training.
Sahuaro junior, Richard Latini, who is in the Fire Science program with JTED went to Golder Ranch with his classmates to Station 370 training grounds. He went two weekends in a row for the purpose of learning about wild land firefighting. The weekend consisted of long, hard working class days; Friday was 5pm-1pm and Saturday/Sunday 8am-5:30pm.
The first five days of the training was spent in a classroom, asking questions and learning all the basics of wild land and what effects the wild fire. On the last day, they went out to a dirt lot to practice their skills. They learned that 10 (wild land laws) and 18 (watch out situations) are the most crucial part of wild land. Also how to sling weather (how to find out the weather and how it will effect the fire), dug fire lines so the fire doesn’t jump to the green, how to use water against the wild land firefighting and topography, which is how the land affects fire behavior.
Wild land has many advantages but also comes with disadvantages. Advantages are, unless you get hired onto a full year crew, you only work one season. You also could travel the country and see places you never get tired of seeing. Disadvantages are that there are physical demands for the job because you spend a lot of time outdoors, and since you travel a lot you won’t get to be home. With that Richard said he would rather do wild land than structure, “I want to do wild land for as long as I can, then maybe go into the structure side, but my plan is when I turn eighteen to go on to a hand crew.” Richard also says, “If you want to be a wild land firefighter you have to prepare for it and educate yourself so you don’t get hurt out there.”
Overall Richard had a blast learning new techniques about his dream job, he still has a lot of learning to do, but with his family, friends, and girlfriend’s, support he knows he will accomplish it one day.