MARIN COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- A new firefighter training program focused on equity is already expanding. The Marin County Fire Department is partnering with the College of Marin to create housing and training for new recruits.
For the past year, firefighter recruits have been working to reduce the risk of wildfire in Marin County, by removing dead trees and brush on hillsides.
ABC7 News caught up with one crew from the Fire Foundry last summer, a program that seeks to advance the county's commitment to equity and fire safety.
"We've got this fire problem across the entire state, we are also trying to bring more women and people of color to the fire service," Marin County Fire Chief Jason Weber said.
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Daisy Kessler is a new Foundry recruit hoping for a firefighting career.
"It combines a few of my passions, helping people and racial justice, and helping break cycles of poverty in Marin County and beyond," Kessler said.
The program offers paid on-the-job training and is now expanding by teaming up with the College of Marin's Novato campus. It will soon offer recruits full-time housing at a building on campus close to where they take EMT and fire science classes. A fire training facility will also be built nearby.
"So by doing that, having students here. It's a win-win for both parties. We got students trained onsite and having a North Bay contingent of firefighters is a positive for Marin," said Greg Nelson from the College of Marin.
Chief Weber says fire departments statewide are struggling to hire.
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"So there is a critical shortage and a need for recruits," Weber said.
Weber believes the new live-work training facility could open next year.
"It's a one-stop shop pretty much, awesome," Lupe Duran said.
Duran lost his home in the North Bay Tubbs Fire and says the Fire Foundry program has opened the door to a new career path.
"A career in fire sounds awesome. Being able to help the community seems like a win-win for them and me," Duran said.
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