All Women’s Fire Crew Deployed to Alaska
Our All Women’s Fire Crew Deployed to Alaska
July 22, 2019
Montana Conservation Corps (MCC) All Women’s Fire Crew left last week for Alaska to help battle the more than 200 fires burning in that state. This is the first assignment for the 2019 All Women’s Fire Crew. The team traveled by plane, helicopter and boat to the active Hadweenzic River Fire in the Upper Yukon of eastern Alaska.
Montana Conservation Corp’s innovative Women’s Fire Crew addresses the gender disparity in wildland firefighting, giving women the opportunity to work alongside and empower one another while providing a platform to break into careers in wildland firefighting. The Women’s Fire Crew gives young female sawyers the chance to receive training and work on habitat restoration and fuels reduction projects without the heavy burden of working against gendered expectations. In the process, they earn certifications that allow them to begin their careers as wildland firefighters.
The MCC AmeriCorps Women’s Fire Crew engages in habitat restoration and fuels mitigation on public lands, with our main partner being the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Most work takes place on BLM land in Wyoming and involves heavy chainsaw use and prescribed burns, with the goals of restoring wildlife habitat during training exercises and longer-term prevention of wildfire. Through the Women’s Fire Crew, MCC aims to provide women with technical skills and leadership training along with an introduction to and overview of career opportunities that exist in the field of natural resource management and, specifically, wildland firefighting.
During training, the crew works and camps for up to 14 days at a time in frontcountry and backcountry locations. Women participants earn their S212 (Wildland Fire Chainsaws), S130 (Firefighter Training), and S190 (Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior) certifications as well as their red card after passing a pack test and a physical. As AmeriCorps participants, they also receive an education award which can be used at vocational schools that can provide them additional fire training.
“For women who are thinking ‘maybe I can’t do this,’ you totally can. You just have to have the determination and the willingness to put in a lot of hard work and sweat."
To date over 20 young women have entered the wildland firefighting field after participating in the BLM and MCC’s Women’s Fire Corps program.
The MCC Women's Fire Crew is funded in part by a grant from REI.
Current Media Coverage
All Female Fire Crew Lands in Alaska for First Fire Assignment CBS 13 July 20, 2019
From Big Sky to The Last Frontier, 8 Women Fight Their First Wildland Fire BLM Alaska Fire Service July 20, 2019