Fires in Central Oregon are a yearly occurrence, yet 2015 was a record year for cost — $74 million so far, according to the Department of Forestry. In comparison, Oregon’s 10-year average has been around $29 million. Large stretches of land are still on fire, even during the tail end of wildfire season.
With record blazes comes a need for more labor and for professionals to help fight fires. At COCC, students can earn an associate of applied science in Forest Resources Technology and in Wildland Fire Fuels Management. COCC also offers a variety of short-term certificates in topics such as Wildland Fires Suppression, Forest Protection and more. Completing an associate degree program takes two years and the certificates take one year.
“At COCC, some of the best instructors in the Northwest provide students with the hands-on training needed to manage controlled burns, implement fuels planning, work with fire suppression tactics and more,” according to the department’s website.
Course subjects include first aid, GPS, forest ecology, fire science and more.
Students can also earn an associate degree in Structural Fire Science. Graduates with this degree are trained as emergency personnel who can seek employment in fire departments.
The department’s website states that, “Whether providing fire suppression, emergency medical aid, hazardous materials response, public education or fire investigation, students are challenged by differing emergencies and circumstances. As a member of a special team, members help people in need, minimize property damage and provide a diverse spectrum of services to the public.”
Students can learn more about the Wildland Fire program and its career pathways by visiting http://www.cocc.edu/wildland-fire or by contacting Paula Simone, whose information is listed on the site. For those interested in the Structural Fire Science program, contact Nick Sphatt, program director, or visit http://www.cocc.edu/Structural-Fire-Science.
Bethany Langer | The Broadside