by Mike Kern



Wildland fire includes two components: wildfire and prescribed fire (controlled burning).

National Wildland Firefighter Day, established in 2022, recognizes the dedication of wildland firefighters, including federal, state, local, Tribal, military, rural, contract, and support personnel. The selected date is especially meaningful as it occurs during the Wildland Fire Week of Remembrance, which is held annually June 30 to July 6, and serves as an opportunity to renew our commitment to wildland firefighter safety as we remember those who have fallen in the line of duty.

National Wildland Firefighter Day was designed to recognize the hard work and devotion of all wildland firefighters and support personnel who are the backbone of the wildland fire community. These women and men work to save lives, property, infrastructure, and precious natural and cultural resources every year, and we are incredibly thankful for their professional skills and efforts.

In observance of this day, our fire staff and volunteer wardens were asked to respond to the following:


What does it mean to be a wildland firefighter in Pennsylvania?

“It means the opportunity to serve the citizens of Pennsylvania in a dynamic situation with some of the greatest, selfless people in the state… men and women going above and beyond to preserve the wildlands that we all cherish. I consider it an honor to be called a “Wildland Firefighter.”

-Dale Appleby, Forest Maintenance Supervisor, Michaux Forest District


“It means we bring a higher-level skillset to an incident. We are able to suppress fire and educate VFD personnel and the general public on how to handle wildland fires.”

-James Gormish, Forest Fire Warden, Gallitzin Forest District


“Duty. A moral obligation to help those in need.
Integrity, The quality of having strong moral principles.
Respect, The feeling of having a deep admiration for someone or something, a value of honor.
Not everyone can do what we do, but this is what separates us from the rest”.

-Erik Stefferud, Forest Fire Warden, William Penn Forest District


“To be a wildland firefighter in Pennsylvania means keeping the forest safe for wildlife and recreational use as well as protecting property of the citizens of PA.”

-Jeremy Akers, Forest Fire Warden, Gallitzin Forest District


“It is an awesome experience to see the vast areas of PA while doing something that not only benefits those around an incident but the beauty of the forests and wildlands here in PA… being in the outdoors, working to save the habitat for our wildlife, while protecting our natural resources.”

-Todd Ziegler, Forest Fire Warden, William Penn Forest District


“Being a wildland firefighter means suppressing wildfires to minimize damage to property and forest resources by maintaining readiness, continuous training, and maintaining good working relationships with adjoining forces.”

-Cody Crouse, Fire Forester, Buchanan Forest District


“It’s a way to learn and offer my assistance on in-district and neighboring district fires by learning what it takes to work on the line. Participation on Incident Management Teams gives me the opportunity to assist across Pennsylvania, as well as any state in the country, that has a need for skills I possess.  It’s a fulfilling experience to be part of either situation and to build my knowledge and skill base.”

-Robin Regester, Administrative Assistant, Tioga Forest District


“Commitment, sacrifice, gratitude.”

-Rick Deppen, Assistant District Forester, William Penn Forest District


“Constantly being pulled in multiple directions on a wildfire as you are trying to establish a correct size- up or establishing command… as you’re building unified command with our cooperators and fellow federal agencies, you try to make sound decisions as people wait. With natural fire behavior, conditions can change rapidly.”

-Greg Reese, Maintenance Repairman, William Penn Forest District


“I was in the PA Specialized Crew in the late ‘80s and ‘90s for ten years and was deployed to California and Washington. I served with many highly trained, dedicated firefighters to the appreciation of many local residents.”

-Harry Wysong, Forest Fire Warden, Gallitzin Forest District


“A Pennsylvania wildland firefighter is someone who has a connection to our natural resources and a commitment to conserving those resources against wildfires that have the potential to destroy life, property, and our natural environment.”

-Cecile Stelter, District Forest Fire Warden, Cornplanter Forest District




Forest Fridays are published weekly by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.