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Calif. FD offers training for Native American women in wildland firefighting

The selected women will be trained as part of the National Park Service’s Women in Fire Program


Photo/Yurok Fire Department

The Times-Standard, Eureka, Calif.

YUROK RESERVATION, Calif. — The Yurok Fire Department was selected to train four female firefighters for the National Park Service’s forward-looking Women in Fire Program, the tribe announced this week.

“It is a huge privilege to train these firefighters for the Women in Fire Program,” Yurok Fire Chief Rod Mendes said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to providing four Native American women the skills and experience they need to acquire good-paying jobs with tribal, federal or state wildland fire departments.”

The program gives participants a leg up in a career in wildland firefighting.

“It is the goal of this program to recruit, train, and offer exposure to multiple aspects of wildland fire in addition to exposure to the planning and implementation of prescribed fire projects,” Redwood National Park fire management officer Rick Young said.

Young added that it could inspire future firefighters.

With $100,000 from the National Park Service, the Yurok Fire Department is recruiting four Native American women to participate in the paid program. Once hired, the Yurok Fire Department will put the women through an intensive wildland fire training academy. Based out of the department’s headquarters on the Yurok Reservation, the training will consist of classroom instruction and hands-on skill-building exercises.

The training will prepare program participants to pass the written and physical tests required to receive an interagency-certified Incident Qualifications Card, or Red Card, and a Firefighter 2 credential, which will qualify them to land firefighting jobs anywhere in the United States.

After they complete the training and certification process, the four women will work out of the Yurok fire house in Tulley Creek. The female firefighters will also spend stints with Redwood National Park and US Forest Service fire crews, which will further expand their skill sets.

The Yurok Fire Department is the first tribal firefighting organization to administer the transformational Women in Fire Program in California. The National Park Service launched the program in 2021 in an effort to make its workforce more resilient and encourage more females to pursue leadership positions within in the male-dominated profession. Women currently make up just 12% of the federal wildland fire workforce.

To apply for the Women in Fire Program on the Yurok Reservation, fill out the Yurok Tribe employment application at


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