ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) — Wildland firefighting courses are gearing up for a busy post-drought season, and military veterans are getting trained for free.

The New Mexico State Forestry Returning Heroes Wildland Firefighting Program is gearing up for a busy fire season, and State Forestry is offering free classes in Santa Fe to military veterans interested in becoming wildland firefighters.

The Returning Heroes Wildland Firefighting Program (RHP) provides veterans of the US Armed Forces with training and work opportunities to fight wildfires.

In 2017, firefighters with RHP were not only successful in battling wildfires here in New Mexico, but also in multiple states across the West in one of the worst fire seasons the region has seen in decades. RHP operates out of Santa Fe where military veterans work and train. They must live within two hours of this location to be dispatched for wildland fire emergencies.

To become a Returning Hero Wildland Firefighter, applicants are required to meet the following criteria:

  • Submit a completed AD Hire application.
  • In order to receive priority preference for hiring and work assignments, you must be a U.S. military veteran or reservist. Other candidates are encouraged to apply, but will not be eligible for this preference.
  • Live within two hours of Santa Fe. While fire emergencies can happen anywhere, you must report to the program’s headquarters to be dispatched to your assignment.
  • Be able to remain on fire assignments for an extended period of time, and be available at short notice (within two hours). Due to the unpredictable nature of the emergencies, involvement is seasonal and does not conform to a set schedule.
  • Have the physical capacity to work for an extended period of time. An example would be working for approximately 16 hours per day for 14 consecutive days.
  • Have the physical capacity to perform duties in steep and/or rugged terrain under adverse weather conditions, while carrying a pack weighing up to 45 pounds.
  • Complete the required training and physical fitness testing yearly

For more information, visit their website.