APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – With large parts of Northeast Wisconsin under a high risk of wildfire danger, it’s important to have people trained to put out these fires.
Fox Valley Technical College is one of the few places in the Midwest that offers a degree in wildland firefighting.
“If you want to do something different every day and you’re not afraid of some hard work and being in good physical shape then I might say this is the job for you,” said Mariah Wood who is in the wildland firefighting program at Fox Valley Technical College.
Wood has been going out west the past few years to Nevada to work there as a wildland firefighter as she continues to complete her degree at FVTC. The FVTC wildland firefighter program also has a mutual aid agreement with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) so students get to help the DNR put out wildfires here as well.
She and her classmates are doing a prescribed burn of a patch of prairie land on campus. Prescribed burns like this help get rid of invasive species and plants that died over the winter.
The program teaches the students the ins and outs of being a wildland firefighter, teaching them everything from how to do a prescribed burn to how to fight a major wildfire.
“You’re kind of an unsung hero out there because you’re in the background protecting life protecting property and protecting our natural resources,” said Jon Kellerman who is the program instructor at FVTC.
Although he is preparing the next generation of wildland firefighters to have the skillset to respond to these fires, Kellerman said the best way to fight a fire is to not have it start in the first place.
He recommends always monitoring a fire when you start one, having a water resource nearby, and keeping anything that could potentially fuel the fire far away.
The DNR advises people to contact your local fire department or municipality about burning regulations and restrictions in your area.
Outagamie, Brown, Calumet, Winnebago, Oconto, and Kewaunee Counties are all listed as high risk for fire danger right now. According to the DNR’s website, there were six wildfires in Wisconsin on Tuesday and since the start of the year there has been 462 wildfires in the state.