San Diego Center with Los Piños Center

Corpsmembers from the San Diego Center are creating a fire line by removing dead wood and undergrowth. Defensible space is created to contain the fire and prevent it from further spreading.

The San Diego Center is nonresidential with 90 Corpsmembers who commute daily to the center.

All San Diego Corpsmembers receive training in basic fire camp support and flood fighting to assist throughout the state. Along with fires and floods, local crews have responded to earthquakes, oil spills, biological emergencies and more. Out-of-state responses include Florida, Louisiana, Montana, Puerto Rico, and Texas.

The San Diego Center also operates the Los Piños Center, which is located in the Cleveland National Forest near Lake Elsinore. The Los Piños camp specializes in fuel reduction projects in the greater Riverside County area.

401 W. 35th Street, Suite A
National City, CA 91950

39251 Ortega Highway
Lake Elsinore, CA 92530
951-609-1778 or 951-609-0302

Los Piños Tent Camp

Life at the San Diego Center

San Diego Center Corpsmembers are volunteering to plant trees during a community event.

All Corpsmembers at the San Diego Center live locally and arrive at the center as early as 5:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Crews then depart for the day’s projects throughout San Diego County. Before Corpsmembers start their project day they participate in a daily safety briefing and some stretching.

The crews return to the center between 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. for dismissal. Some Corpsmembers then attend classes for several hours. High school students also attend classes in person and online with teachers from Urban Corps Charter School, this can include four to six hours on Fridays, as they work toward their high school diploma.

Corpsmembers are challenged both mentally and physically from the projects and education expectations required on a daily basis. Classes offered help with basic life skills, current events, fiscal management, job preparation, and interview techniques.

On weekends, Corpsmembers often volunteer with civic groups throughout the area. These groups include Habitat for Humanity, I Love a Clean San Diego, the San Diego River Park Foundation, and Veterans Week San Diego’s Veterans Day Parade.


Corpsmembers at the San Diego center are clearing rock and dirt to construct a trail, one of the many jobs that they are hired by sponsors to perform.

Working with project sponsors at all levels of government, the San Diego Center challenges its Corpsmembers with work that includes trail construction, fire hazard reduction, tree removal, and heavy equipment operation. Corpsmembers have constructed trails in the Tijuana River Valley for the County of San Diego. For the City of San Diego, CCC crews work in numerous canyons throughout the year to remove brush and reduce wildfire danger.

A partnership with Caltrans provides internship opportunities, where Corpsmembers can hone their skills in landscaping maintenance, power tool use, tree falling, and tree climbing. A number of Corpsmembers are hired by Caltrans annually for entry level jobs. All San Diego Corpsmembers receive training in basic fire camp support and flood fighting to assist with emergencies throughout the state. Along with fires and floods, local crews have responded to earthquakes, oil spills, biological emergencies, and more.

Education and Training

San Diego Center Corpsmembers are being trained on chainsaw safety.

All Corpsmembers at the San Diego Center are required to complete Corpsmember Orientation, Motivation, Education, and Training (COMET) and core training courses as a requirement for a $2,000 scholarship at the end of 12 months of enrollment.

Specialized trainings and certifications available at the San Diego Center include:


  • USFS Type II Firefighter Training (San Diego)
  • CAL FIRE Type II Firefighter Training (Los Piños)
  • Backcountry Trail Construction & Maintenance
  • Skid-steer Equipment Safety & Operation
  • Caltrans’ Internship Program
  • Chain Saw Training
  • Chipper Safety & Training
  • First Aid & CPR
  • Flora and Fauna Identification
  • Forklift Safety and Operation Certification
  • Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) 40-Hour Training
  • Herbicide Application and Safety
  • Ladder Safety
  • Leave No Trace
  • Power Tools Safety and Operation
  • ServSafe Food Handler Certification
  • Trail Construction and Maintenance

The San Diego Center has partnered with community-based organization called ACCESS. ACCESS offers Corpsmembers a variety of continuing educational opportunities, including classes in leadership, fiscal responsibility, and helps with job placement after the CCC.