Students at Fox Valley Technical College are getting some hands-on fire training.
The college’s wildland fire program gives fire-fighting hopefuls the skills they need to take on fires like the ones in California.
None of the current students will be going to fight the fires in California, but once they complete the program they’ll certainly be able to.
Students like like Pautz are burning to fight a fire.
“We go out, we do controlled burns, we go throughout the northeast region, we burn prairie grass that needs fire,” says wildland fire and natural resources instructor John Kellerman. “And also just exposing them to as many different pieces of equipment as we can.”
Fox Valley Tech had students helping fight wildfires on the west coast earlier in the year, but have since returned.
Everyone continues to watch flames blaze across California, an unusual time of year to see wildfires.
“I’ve seen some internet videos of people driving through fire storms,” says student Luke Pautz. “I know there’s fires in the south, fires in the north. Looks like a pretty bad situation. Makes you want to get out there and finish up your degree and see some fire.”
Kellerman says Wisconsin has seen it’s share of wildfires yet like California we would never expect to see one here this time of year.
“Our typical times for wildland fire season that we think of here is the spring months, usually for about three months as soon as the snow is done,” he says. “The fields are all dry, they’re brown, it goes till about green-up, which is about mid to late May.”
Despite the time of year nothing can extinguish these students passion potentially saving lives.
“I’m just looking to see fire pretty much and begin my life as a firefighter professional,” says Pautz.
The students Monday were burning buckthorn, it’s an invasive species whose seeds can live in soil for seven to twenty years.
It’s an ongoing project that allows students to use equipment they would use in the field and teaches them how to properly conduct a controlled burn.