As I’m preparing to graduate, I think back on my journey from day one. I knew I wanted to be working in an outdoor environment, most likely in land management. However, through the classes in Warnell such as Forest Health & Protection, I have been exposed to wildland firefighting. The Georgia Forestry Commission, which handles burn permits and fire management within the state of Georgia, came and spoke multiple times to our class. With my growing knowledge of fire management and the role of fire in healthy ecosystems, I became very interested in finding opportunities to become a wildland firefighter.
After much research and several discussions, I found the Colorado Firecamp. As I was preparing to go to Colorado to visit family and go skiing, I discovered there was a session offered over winter break and signed up immediately! Firecamp was a mix of class and fieldwork. In the field, we worked in fuel mitigation, fire suppression, digging fire lines, communication as a unit, and of course the most memorable was burning piles. This course made me so anxious till the day when I would be out on a fourteen plus day assignment working sixteen hour days. The last day, which was bitter-sweet, came where we would take our tests and receive our final certification. That morning, we practiced looking for hot spots by crawling around in the center of town on a patch of grass feeling for pennies Captain had thrown around randomly- oh the team bonding. Later on, we went to the river and practiced different hose lays and pumping techniques. Lastly, the time came for the pack test at the arduous level: which is carrying a 45 lbs pack for 3 miles in 45 minutes or less. Thankfully, I have a long stride and led the pack with a time of 39 minutes and 9 seconds.
Looking to the future, this spring break I will be participating in the spring break prescribe burn class and couldn’t be more excited!
When I graduate I plan to go work as a wildland firefighter. Warnell, has so much to offer each and every one of us. Even though, I didn’t know what I wanted when I started, now I do and it’s all thanks to the wonderful services and staff here at this pleasant little home, we call Warnell.