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Fire-RescueEMS Instructor, Ed Leeson thanks all our local fire departments for their consistent support of our program

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Yes, You Can Fight and Prevent Forest Fires!

Wildland Firefighting

Students in the Fire-Rescue-EMR curriculum were exposed to a firefighting career option not many people realize exists in our area:  wildland firefighting.  

Captain Joshua Strohemeyer, of the U.S. Forest Service gave a comprehensive presentation to our Fire-Rescue-EMS students on what it takes to make wildland firefighting a career.  He began by explaining how the science, tactics, and strategies involved in wildland firefighting differ from structural firefighting. 

The Captain also stated that unlike structural firefighting, anyone who is 18 is eligible to apply on-line for a full-time job with the U.S. Forest Service.  In so doing, he stressed the importance of creating a proper resume.  Considering the fact the hiring process for many federal government positions does not involve interviews, a thorough and up-to-date resume is critical to the recruitment and hiring process.  In fact, he related how he helped a former graduate of KACC get hired after helping him fine-tune his resume. 

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Although Captain Strohemeyer is currently assigned to work at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Wilmington, he and his fellow wildland firefighters travel to extinguish fires all throughout the United States. So far, he has fought fires in 27 states.  Most of the time, these assignments involve working outdoors in all kinds of terrain and weather.  

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Due to the physical nature of this career, requirements include being able to hike 3 miles in 45 minutes with a 45-pound pack on your back and the ability to do a  certain amount of push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups.  No formal firefighting training is needed, but good candidates for this career involve people who like to travel, work hard, and have a certain mechanical aptitude.  In particular, he mentioned how people with farming backgrounds and those trained in skills like those taught at KACC (i.e.: Welding, small engine repair, construction technology, etc.) make excellent candidates.

Much of the work is seasonal.  This type of firefighter typically works eight hours a day Monday through Friday unless deployed to fight fires.  They work these hours six to nine months during fire season (which varies depending upon the region of the country) and then have several months off until the fire season starts again.  

Captain Strohemeyer's presentation was both educational and informative.  All of the students obtained a new appreciation for wildland firefighting, and many left with the intent of investigating this career further.


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Kankakee Area Career Center4083 N 1000 W Road

PO Box 570Bourbonnais, IL 60914

815-939-4971Fax: 815-939-7598

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

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