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New recruits team up with BLM for Basic Fire Field Training Day

New wildland firefighters are training to join the ranks. Students from The Basic Fire School at the College of Eastern Idaho teamed up with the Bureau of Land Management for a wildfire simulation.

Boots hit the ground Thursday as new recruits trained to dig firelines, a wildland fire technique that suppresses fires by creating a gap in the vegetation.

Dean Hazen, a trainee and volunteer firefighter, is a retired meteorologist for the National Weather Service. Now, he’s making the transition from predicting fire season, to fighting it.

“It’s a chance to see what it is, first of all. You know, I understand the weather part of it really well, but I’ve never been on the operational side,” Hazen said.

Like Hazen, these recruits have never fought an actual wildfire. However, after they complete their 40-hour training and receive their certificates, they could be on the front lines.

Sarah Wheeler, Bureau of Land Management fire information officer, says these new recruits could be fighting fires anywhere this upcoming summer.

“Crews get pulled every which way in the summer, depending on where the fire activity is,” Wheeler said. “We definitely keep crews on hand for our local community, but if we’re not experiencing a lot of fires, we’ll definitely share our resources.”

The recruits could soon be fighting fires as far south as Los Angeles and San Diego or up north, into Washington. Learning how to dig fire lines now is essential to fighting fires later.

The ripped-up training field at Ryder Park isn’t going to waste. While trainees gain hands-on experience, the city gains a recreational path.

“So one of the really neat things we were able to do this year is entered into a memorandum with the city. So our firefighters are able to put in a line that will be used as a bike trail for the community,” Wheeler said.

After the recruits are done, a 2-foot-wide path will remain, the perfect size for biking and walking.

“And so what’s nice about that is taking something that we need to do and experience to do, experiencing putting in this line and create a product for the city for the community to use,” Wheeler said.

However, the path is not complete yet, and they are looking for volunteers to help. If you’d like to help, you can join the local biking community at Ryder Park on Tuesday evenings at 6 p.m.

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