MEDFORD, Ore. -- Medford Crew 10 is a 22-person hand crew under the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). 17 of them are military veterans. The crew has been around for about six years now.
"It's been a good career path and I've gotten not just experience working here not just in fire but with other departments of the BLM and being able to get some experience in timber and trail and stuff like that," said Squad Boss, Justin Livdahl. Fire Season 2018 is his fourth season with the crew.
Fire Season 2018 is Trevor Perry’s first season fighting wildfires with Medford Crew 10 but the Marine Corp Veteran has never shied away from hard work.
“From the military background, transitioning into this, into a 20 man crew is really just like you're back with a platoon again. You’re assigned to a squad and you’re responsible for the safety of the men and women around you," Perry added.
Medford Crew 10’s goal is to give military veterans experience with natural resources, fuels and wildland firefighting. The BLM said this will give them the training and skills to build potential future career opportunities.
“It's hard for someone who gets their DD 214s and then walks away and then all of a sudden might not have a solid direction. Maybe we can provide that to them or at least allow them time to figure out what they want to but in the meantime support them as peers, " said Jesse Kiene, Medford Crew 10’s Superintendent.
Being a part of the crew pays off. Fire Season 2018 is also Cody Crutchley's fourth season with the crew. Now he's in training to be a squad leader and loves being able to continue his public service.
“Now that I’ve been doing it for this long I do appreciate that everybody says thank you and I do feel good about that I can save somebody else’s family like it’s my own," he said.
It's sentiment shared by many of the crew members.
"[I] would definitely like to come back. I definitely want to make firefighting a thing and make it some sort of next step in my evolution," Perry said.
The Medford Crew 10 has been on the line of multiple fires this season alone from the Klamathon Fire back in July in Siskiyou County to the Taylor Creek and Klondike fires burning in Josephine County. Medford Crew 10 is getting ready to get back out on the Klondike Fire line. This time on the west side of the fire.
There are eight total veteran hand crews like Medford Crew 10 across the western United States.