Firefighters ready

THIS IS HOW WE DO IT—An instructor leads the training. BOBBY CURTIS/Acorn Newspapers

THIS IS HOW WE DO IT—An instructor leads the training. BOBBY CURTIS/Acorn Newspapers

Approximately 200 aspiring wildland firefighters—all local military veterans—attended four days of wildland firefighting training from March 2 to 5 at Paramount Ranch in rural Agoura.

The vets are members of Team Rubicon, a Los Angeles based nonprofit that meshes the skills of military veterans with first responders in the rapid deployment of emergency response teams.

Upon successful completion of the training, the crew members will be certified as wildland firefighters and will have the ability to join federal, state and local fire crews.

“It’s been a tough and tragic fire season for our state, but we’re happy that by hosting this training event for military vets, the National Park Service is part of an important effort to augment our highly skilled team of first responders,” said David Szymanski, superintendent of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

“The reality is we will most likely need the expertise of these vets in the near future,” he said.

This is the second year in a row that the Bureau of Land Management, in partnership with Team Rubicon, will kick off the national wildland firefighter training session in L.A.

Instructors will then travel to Texas, Maryland, Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Idaho and Alaska to educate Team Rubicon members in wildland fire-suppression tactics, including communication techniques, fireline construction, equipment operation, and other wildland firefighting skills.

In April 2015, BLM joined with Team Rubicon, a veteran-led disaster response nonprofit, because many of the skills veterans learned in the military translate to wildland firefighting, such as teamwork, decisive leadership, risk mitigation and management, logistics and emergency medicine.

In 2015 and 2017, Team Rubicon members trained as wildland firefighters responded to fires in Alaska, Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington during two of the most severe fire seasons in recorded history.

Acorn staff report