By Casey Tolliver
Wildfires are normally seen as destructive forces, but for one Eastern student, they have proven to be a creative influence.Fire science major Chris Warren has drawn from his six years of experience fighting wildfires for the federal government to come up with an idea for a class he is pitching to the university, in hopes that it will be added to the current curriculum.
The idea of the course is to help prepare students interested in, or currently pursuing, a career in fighting wildfires. It could help lay a solid foundation in the knowledge of fighting such fires; a knowledge that could potentially be used to save lives during a common catastrophe.
“I love the idea of creating something at the university that, to some small extent, will provide something for people across the United States,” Warren said.
Warren realized the need for the course after numerous students approached him about how they can do what he does- fight wildfires.
The class, if implemented, will provide students who successfully complete the course with S130/S190 certifications, which are just a couple of qualifications that Warren has, and are also part of the requirements for those seeking employment fighting wildfires for the federal government.
The S130 certification is Beginning Wild Land Firefighting and the S190 certification is Introduction to Fire Weather Behavior.
Warren has also been trained in squad loss, being a helicopter crewman, and he is Faller B qualified, which means he has been trained to use a chainsaw to aid in preventing the wildfires from spreading.
So far, the course is in its periphery phase, Warren said. But he has drawn up a proposal and collected materials to take to Tom Thurman, associate professor of safety, security and emergency management and loss prevention and safety and Larry Collins, chair and associate professor of safety, security and emergency management and loss prevention and safety.
The class is also receiving support from the U.S. Forest Service, which has offered to provide materials as well as people to teach the proposed course, which would more than likely be a part of the fire science or forestry department, according to Warren.
For those with a slight interest in receiving training to fight wild fires, but are not quite convinced, there may be a distinct financial advantage.
“They can go work for three months and make a big check,” Warren said. “I’m still living off what I made in August.”
But money isn’t the only reason he continues to help fight wildfires.
“I enjoy the work, the travel and the adventure,” Warren said. “The main reasons I do it is the people I work with, and you get to see and do stuff nobody else gets to do.”
Warren received his training at Sequoia King National Park in California, 60 miles outside of Fresno, and has helped fight over 120 fires. He usually is involved in fighting 20 wildfires per season, on average.
The Three Springs, Calif. native is following in the footsteps of his father, a retired wildfire fighter.