July 29, 2021

Copper Mountain College started its Wildland Fire Academy in April of this year and it has already proven to be a success for its students.

Mark Ticas, Firefighter, CMC student, and graduate of the first Academy, secured a position with the U.S. Forest Service as an EMT/FF in South Umpqua Forest (Engine 424) and is currently fighting the “Jack Fire”, located in Oregon.

Ticas stated, “The opportunity to fight wildland fires is something I can do now, and it pays me over the summer and into the fall for helping saves lives and property from the destruction of these large wildland fires in the western United States.”

Wildlife Fire Academy students outside in uniform.

Of the 15 graduating academy students, three were recruited during the class, one student was assigned to a wildland fire unit in Oregon, another student went to Washington, and another went to the San Bernardino National Forest. Three more students are volunteer firefighters at Yermo, and another student received a full-time job offer at a rescue technician company in Texas.

In addition, two of the students were Marines at the Marine Base, and, upon being discharged from active duty, both went back east after completing the Academy for wildland firefighting job opportunities there.

The Wildland Fire Academy is an 8-week program designed for those who desire to gain information and certification through the NWCG (National Wildland Coordinating Group) as a Wildland Firefighter. CMC Instructors bring over 70 years of experience to the Wildland Fire Academy.

Students are trained in hand crew formation, fire line construction, and the use of wildland equipment. Students learn about wildland firefighter safety, fire behavior, protective clothing, and wildland fire tools. This course includes arduous physical conditioning and outdoor activity.

“The members of our first Wildland Fire Academy cohort made us proud by demonstrating hard work and perseverance and are continuing to do so on the front lines of wildfires across the western United States,” said Dr. Daren Otten, Superintendent/President. “Our role in training and education, aligned with employment and transfer opportunities, is what CMC and the community college system are all about!”

Class #2 of the Copper Mountain College Wildland Fire Academy starts on August 2 and runs to September 25, 2021. “We still need wildland firefighters,” says Chief Rickman. “Our plan is to train all that we can for this fire season and for future seasons.”

For more information about the Wildland Fire Academy at CMC, please contact Chief Tracy Rickman at trickman@cmccd.edu or call the College at 760.366.3791.