Mentoring the Next Generation of Firefighters
By Tina Shaw
The Midwest Region Torch Award has been passed on to another well-respected individual in the wildland fire profession. Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge Range Technician David Jones was recognized as the recipient of this year’s Torch Award in mid-February.
With more than eight years of fire experience at Big Oaks, Jones typifies the Midwest Region fire program’s steadfast focus on safety and conservation. The Torch Award recognizes staff dedication to the conservation of wildlife habitat utilizing safe hazard fuel and prescribed fire reduction techniques. Jones follows in the footsteps of past honorees: Chris Mursu of Sherburne Refuge, Mike Belsky of Necedah Refuge, Erik Acker of Port Louisa Refuge, Ben Halverson of Leopold WMD and Eric Nelson of Agassiz Refuge.
The Midwest Region fire program is built on the essential tenets of regional cooperation and interagency collaboration in meeting habitat conservation burning goals. Jones continues to meet this mission by mentoring young firefighters in many aspects of the job, sharing his skills in metal fabricating, engine repair, chainsaw operation and heavy equipment use. Bringing a can-do attitude to everything he does, Jones possesses strong chainsaw skills and has shown leadership in training more than 100 sawyers in the past seven years.
“He possesses all the qualities and skills needed to be a firefighter in this new era,” explained Midwest Regional Fire Management Coordinator Dan Dearborn. “While he excels in the field, Dave also possesses the technical skills to help the fire crew to get the task done on the ground.”
Jones is committed to Big Oaks and the wider U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fire Management Program. With his leadership and example, the Midwest Region fire program will continue to exceed annual goals and objectives successfully and safely.