U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fire Crew Completes Second Season
Fire season 2008 marked the second season for the Blue Goose wildland firefighting crew based in Washington at the Mid-Columbia River National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The 20-person crew, created in 2007 by a partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Columbia Basin Job Corps, gives agency firefighters and Job Corps students a chance to gain experience and enhance skills in the field of wildland fire.
“The Blue Goose Crew provides a unique opportunity for our young firefighters to gain high quality fire experience in a very professional setting,” said Steve Jakala, Regional Fire Coordinator for FWS Region 3 and a member of the FWS National Fire Leadership Team who funds the crew. “This is an effort that the Service cannot afford not to fund.”
Over the course of the summer, the crew spent time fighting fires in California, Washington, and Oregon for a total of 54 days assigned to incidents. This year a permanent assistant superintendent position was added to the ranks of the crew and two people who worked on the crew last year filled in other critical supervisory positions.
“Adding depth to our leadership allows us to be more flexible in the types of assignments we take and ensures we produce a quality product for our customers. It also gives us more opportunity to provide one-on-one mentoring to crewmembers.” said Blue Goose Superintendent Jason Riggins.
Detailers from the FWS Regions 1, 2, 3, and 6 and the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service as well as Job Corps students worked together to build a cohesive yet diverse crew in terms of experience, culture, and developmental needs.
Although the 2008 fire season was not as active for the crew as the prior year, crew supervisors took advantage of time not assigned to fires to provide crewmembers with additional classroom and field training. Specific training was given in topics such as studying the elements of high reliability organizations, tactical decision games, wildland fire ignition operations, and basic air operations.
Riggins and his staff are currently recruiting for the 2009 season with initial selections to be made in March. You may contact the crew directly for an application or visit the Blue Goose Crew website at http://www.fws.gov/pacific/refuges/bgcrew/index.html.
Crew: Crew photo of the Blue Goose Crew taken while assigned to the Gould Fire on the Klamath National Forest in California.
On the line: The Blue Goose Crew conducting an initial attack on the Deacon Fire on the Klamath National Forest in California in June.
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