San Diego Center

San Diego Wildland firefighter Corpsmembers next to flames at the Caldor Fire.

CCC San Diego Corpsmembers work near the fire’s edge at the Caldor Fire in El Dorado County in August 2021.

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, Wyoming, Colorado, and Texas.

401 W. 35th Street, Suite A
National City, CA 91950
619-409-4382

Life at the San Diego Center

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

San Diego Center crew 21 does some heavy team lifting on a drainage clearing project. Filling canvas bags with debris, the crew hauled the material out of the drainage canal, thus creating a safer place for water to flow. 

All Corpsmembers at the San Diego Center live locally and arrive at the center as early as 6:00 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, project details, and stretching.

The crews return to the center at 4:30 p.m. for dismissal. Corpsmembers may be required to attend classes after work hours and/or on Fridays. These classes assist in acquiring scholarships, employment skills, pursuing college courses, and to help with mental health awareness and assistance.

High school students attend classes in person with teachers from Urban Corps Charter School, this includes 2 hours of instruction after the workday and 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 daily. Classes offered help with basic life skills, current events, fiscal management, job preparation, resume writing, job search technics, 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 Midway Museum, the San Diego River Park Foundation, Friends of San Diego Canyons, city, state and federal parks, Sports for Exceptional Athletes, and veterans groups including Veterans Week San Diego’s Veterans Day Parade.

Projects

Corpsmembers clearing out rock and dirt.

San Diego Corpsmember April Bryant gathers invasive species debris while restoring part of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Chula Vista, CA.

Working with project sponsors at all levels of government, the San Diego Center challenges its Corpsmembers with work that includes trail construction and maintenance, dry masonry, invasive species removal, habitat preservation, fire hazard reduction, tree removal, and heavy equipment operation. Corpsmembers have constructed trails in the Tijuana River Valley, Cleveland National Forest, Balboa Park, and Torrey Pines State Beach. 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, flood fighting and emergency response to assist when needed throughout the State of California or other states as required. Along with fires and floods, local crews have responded to earthquakes, oil spills, mud slides, hurricane clean-up, biological emergencies, and more.

Wildland Firefighting: The CCC San Diego Center operates a wildland firefighting hand crew in partnership with CAL FIRE. Corpsmembers receive training and hands-on experience working with CAL FIRE captains responding to wildfires year-round locally and across the state. The center is collaborating with the CAL FIRE San Diego (MVU) unit to operate the crew. Wildland hand crews help build fire line with hand tools and conduct mop-up work.

Education and Training

San Diego Center Corpsmembers getting trained on chain saw safety.
CCC San Diego Corpsmembers listen to instructions on how to properly use a wood chipper during an arborist apprentice class. It’s one of many specialized training opportunities Corpsmembers may experience.

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 the CCC Brad Duncan scholarship at the end of one year of service.

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

 

  • Arborist Apprentice Training
  • USFS Firefighter Training
  • CAL FIRE Firefighter Training
  • Backcountry Trail Construction & Maintenance
  • Caltrans’ Internship Program
  • Chain Saw Training
  • Chipper Safety & Training
  • Class C Commercial Class
  • Driver’s Safety Training
  • EMT Classes
  • 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
  • Leave No Trace
  • Power Tools Safety and Operation
  • ServSafe Food Handler Certification
  • Skid-steer Equipment Safety & Operation
  • Trail Construction and Maintenance