Southeast Region Fire Management
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STEP Student John Cooper Gets Some Hands on Experience of Fire at St. Marks NWR

SCEP Student John Cooper on a prescribed burn at St. Vincent NWR

STEP Student John Cooper on a prescribed burn at St. Vincent NWR. Photo: USFWS

John Cooper, STEP Student, attended his fire training while working at St Marks National Wildlife Refuge this summer. He took the beginners wildland fire courses of S-130 Beginning Wildland Fire Operations, S-190 Beginning Fire Weather and Behavior and L-180 Human Factors on the Fireline. After passing these courses, he took the Wildland Fire Arduous Capacity Test, which is walking quickly for 3 miles carrying an extra 45 pounds of weight in a backpack in under 45 minutes.


John's first prescribed fire was on St Vincent National Wildlife Refuge in the Tahiti Beach/Dry Bar area. The prescribed fire was aerially ignited by a helicopter for a total of 2,834 acres. The prescribed fire was burned to reduce fuel loads and give the Scott's Seaside Sparrow better nesting areas in the marsh.


As luck would have it on the drive home from the prescribed fire on St Vincent National Wildlife Refuge, the Apalachicola National Forest requested assistance for a wildfire. John went to his first wildfire called the Thousand Fire. The Thousand Fire was 43 acres.


John returns to college in mid-August with lots of good field experience.

Story-Jennifer Hinckley

Last updated: August 16, 2011