TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Wildfires can be deadly and devastating, but a new force of fighters are training to take them on.
A group of veterans from across the country were in Tallahassee this weekend learning to be wild-land firefighters.
When a wild-land fire erupts, firefighters need all the help they can get. This training session gives veterans the practice and skills to be a part of disaster response efforts.
Attendees are members of Team Rubicon, a veteran-led disaster response nonprofit.
The Bureau of Land Management started the training session in 2015. Since then, hundreds of trained veterans have aided in wild-land fire responses in several states.
Those attending say, they see this opportunity as another way to serve their country even once their military term ends.
"Everyone's here for the same purpose and that really helps everyone grow together and that's something you can't really find," said Dwight Hargett, Team Rubicon member.
Trainers said during an active wildfire, firefighters can dig these lines for up to 16 hours straight.
"I knew I wanted to be part of a disaster response, and work with veterans and civilians again, especially since I miss being in the military," said Aja Anderson, Team Rubicon member.
Veterans at the event are learning skills like fire-line construction and equipment operations. As they practice real-life scenarios, there is a sense of comradely between them, similar to being in the military.
"The Bureau of Land Management took us from zero experience, now in a 4 day training program, to giving us the skills we need," said John Roberts, Team Rubicon member.
Trainers said our nations veterans have the skills, experience, and motivation firefighters need to put out wild-land fires safely. This wild-land training makes the connection, preparing veterans to be on the front line for disaster response.