Eastern Oregon Bootcamp Aims To Bring More Women Into Wildland Firefighting

May 24, 2019

Cassandra Fleckenstein is the center manager at the Vale District for the Bureau of Land Management. She's been in fire since 2006, getting started as a dispatcher right out of high school.

 


"Being a woman in wildfire I've gotten a lot of help getting to the position that I'm in today and I really wanted to be able to give back to other women that were trying to succeed."

That's why she sought out grant funding to start a wildland fire boot camp, now in its second year. Last fall, 20 women participated in the unique regional training program attracting applications from as far away as Great Britain and Hawaii. Fleckenstein says the goal of the boot camp is to give women real world experience in fire, so they can see whether it's a career that might be of interest to them. 

"Whoever is hired should be hired off the best qualified for the job, no matter [their] sex. So really I'm just trying to get an equal opportunity on the hiring side." 

Of the 20 women who went through the boot camp last year, 10 of them applied and have received jobs in the industry for this season, which starts soon.

The Vale District is taking applications for their three day boot camp this October. For more information, call the BLM office at 541-473-6295.

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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