By: Danielle Yaste
When I was in college I had a roommate, named Amanda, who spent her summers working fire. I honestly never fully considered what that meant, but then when applying for the Conservation Corps and learning that I would do Wildland Firefighting, I thought of her. I sent her a text telling her I was going to work fire, she rapidly replied and asked if I had my S130 and S190 training. At the time, I had no clue what that meant. I was surprised about all the connections and conversations we had there after about the world of fire—she kept updated on my training, I understood about the areas she worked and the engines she used. I shared these interactions with my Crew Leader, Amber, and she replied with the phrase “the Fire World is a small world.” I’ve heard this phrase regularly ever since; from casual corps conversation to fire training to prescribed burns. The Fire World, was indeed, a small world, and being a member of the Conservation Corps makes you a part of that world.
The Conservation Corps crews that are located in Minnesota are all trained and certified Wildland Firefighters and work on-call for the DNR. This means that if a fire was to occur in Minnesota, we could receive a call that could deploy us for up to two weeks to work the fire. Being certified to work wild fire also allows for us to complete fire related projects. One of our previous projects was to prep areas for prescribed burns and to work on crews during the burn itself, this particular burn allowed us to interact with staff from four different DNR offices. We spent hours working together, and this time was an opportunity to get to know people. This small example occurs on much larger scales during wildfires. Larger fires can require the work of thousands of people, which effectively shrinks the field making this culture a small and connected one. Being in the Conservation Corps gives you an opportunity to be a part of a large family like community, and every project we work, every organization we partner with, allows us to extend that community, and working fire has the same consequence. Our community grows, and so does the world of fire.