On summer break, college students usually go on vacation, see their families and friends, and enjoy the sun. Rather than tanning at the pool or riding waves at the beach the summer after his sophomore year, Henry Jones ’23 joined his hometown’s fire department in the Pacific Northwest and spent his time off extinguishing flames and protecting his community.
In 2021, Jones applied to about 20 different fire departments across the Northwest. Washington, Wyoming, Montana—it didn’t matter where he ended up, Jones wanted to be out there. With a stroke of luck, he ended up with his hometown crew in Methow Valley, Washington. Though, locally, California was experiencing a rough, early start to wildfire season due to ongoing drought, Washington fared better than what experts had predicted—the largest was the William Flats fire at about 44,000 acres, which was quickly contained. Still, Jones saw action and his love of firefighting began.
“I wanted to push myself and test my limits and go outside the boundary of what my career is going to be,” Jones says. A finance major, he foresees a professional future for himself that doesn’t necessarily include fighting forest fires. “It was rewarding to step away from the ‘normal track.’”