Hazmat training offered to help in Camp Fire recovery

Unemployed Butte County residents can qualify to take the course for free - and begin making prevailing wages as they help in the clean-up process.

Posted: Apr 22, 2019 2:45 PM
Updated: Apr 22, 2019 5:35 PM

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - There is still a lot to be done in the Camp Fire recovery process, so contractors need workers now more than ever.

That's why many are enrolling in a special "HAZWOPER" course.

"This is day one of the classes," I ask, "Are you nervous?"

"It scares the heck out of me but I'm writing down notes and I have a lot of family support plus I want to motivate my grandkids to get into good positions," said Rick, a Camp Fire Survivor who is soon to be a hazardous waste worker.

"We're working hard to help everybody rebuild, it's an important process for this whole area," said Rick.

Hazmat trainer Derek Dawson trains debris removal workers through Butte College as part of a special "Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response" program, or "HAZWOPER".

They've done 13, 2-week long courses since January, training nearly 400 people.

"They're certified both federally and by the state of California to do hazardous waste operations," said Dawson.

The course costs about $700, so Alliance for Workforce Development stepped in to get the costs covered for many.

"We actually applied for a federal disaster grant through the department of labor and those funds are being used to help anyone affected. Our goal is to help people get employed - and go through the training to get employed," said Kristine Farrell, Assistant Director for "Alliance".

It's a win-win; grads walk away to score a prevailing-wage job, and know that they'll be rebuilding their community.

"Probably 95 percent of the attendants of the course have been affected in some way by the fire so this allows them to actually start rebuilding their life," said Dawson.

"I'm in retirement and our whole family volunteers for different community events so I said, 'I better get out of retirement and start doing something in the community'," said Rick.

If you're unemployed, live in Butte County and you want to sign up for training, go to the Butte College Skyway Center at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24.

Bring two forms of ID and a resume if you have one.

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