The federal government has several agencies that oversee
wildland fire programs to protect citizens and also ecosystems. The need for
these employees is often seasonal in the summer and after just one year of
service, some of the more general firefighter crew members can often move up to
more specialized work.
Wildland firefighting is physically exhausting and dangerous
– but appeals to people who like working with their hands and taking on
challenges. According to the U.S. Forest Service, wildland firefighting is for
people who “like hiking without trails; packing between 40 and 120 pounds of
food, water, and supplies on your back; eating and sleeping in the dirt for
days on end; and not having consistent showers.”
It certainly is a tough job but comes complete with service
to country and making a difference in the environment.
Interested in a wildland firefighter job? Take a look at a
few of the jobs you should consider:
As the name implies, this crew specializes in fuel-related
wildland fire tasks. There are generally 10 members in a fuel crew. Fuel crew
members focus on fuel: meaning ecological fuels, such as timber or shrubs.
Their role can include reducing fuel availability (thinning timber), clearing
fuel, and even applying chemicals to fuels identified as potential risks.
Restoration of fire-adapted ecosystems is the ultimate goal. Some of the tools
used in these roles include chainsaws and other hand tools.
Engine crews can have anywhere from 3 to 10 people. Fire
suppression and patrolling are major components of this role. These
firefighters have to be especially fit and alert as they are often involved in
a lot of the strenuous portions of wildland fire fighting. Hand tools, hoses
and other construction tools are part of this job.
These crews usually have around 20 members and handle tasks
like constructing fire lines and rehabilitation of burned out areas. Tools like
chainsaws and drip torches are commonly used in these roles.
Hotshot crews are a more specialized version of hand crews
and are often placed in the most rugged terrain. These firefighters must be in
incredible physical shape to be able to perform their dangerous and difficult
tasks. There are so few of these specialized firefighters that often they are
sent all over the country to put their skills to work.
These firefighters arrive at fires via helicopter. Once on
the ground, these crew members use hand tools and chainsaws to fight the
flames. They may also be trained to drop water or fire retardant from the air.
The helicopters also serve a support role by bringing in personnel and supplies
during fires. Helitack crews aren’t just used in emergency situations; they
play an integral role in prescribed burns too.
These firefighters jump from airplanes with parachutes to
arrive at the part of a fire where they are most needed. They also provide
hazardous fuels reduction support when land management agencies need it. Since
they can be deployed from any airport, these firefighters can arrive quickly to
the scene in cases where driving in would be time-prohibitive.
Wildland Fire Module
These crews of around 10 people help with firefighting
planning and overall execution of prescribed fire projects, or emergency
firefighting. This group has a high level of expertise because of the wide
range of tasks it must complete, including fire effects monitoring, line
construction, long-term planning and fire management. These crews are also
trained to be self-sufficient, often in remote areas.
Prescribed Wildland Fire Crew
This group supports planned fire projects. This can include
everything from equipment maintenance to burn unit preparation. The work this
crew does makes a difference in how efficiently a prescribed burn is executed.
Ready to get started? Visit wildland firefighting employee
sites for the
U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, National Park Service, and Bureau of Indian Affairs.