I am in the process of makings a career change this summer and I am actively pursuing a career in wildland fire fighting. I was looking for some people to share there experience working with CAL FIRE and USFS.
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Thread: Cal Fire V.S. USFS
01-04-2010, 01:45 PM #1
- Join Date
- Jan 2010
Cal Fire V.S. USFS
01-04-2010, 06:16 PM #2
Read the threads in this forum and most of your questions can be answered. Post specific questions for specific answers.
01-04-2010, 08:45 PM #3
- Join Date
- Jan 2010
Give us something more to work with. Both are good agencies, but what is your experience? What are you looking for as far as a career further down the road?
01-05-2010, 12:58 PM #4
- Join Date
- Jan 2010
so right now I am CPR, BLS, wilderness first responder certified and I am scheduled to take my EMT-B this semester. I am currently signed up for a 67 hour class on the 15th of this month as well.
My end goal is to become a paramedic for a city department and I am trying to build my resume with as much experience as possible.
Sorry for being so vague i was just trying to get a feel for both agencies.
01-05-2010, 08:36 PM #5
- Join Date
- Dec 2009
I am actually working with USFS as a wildland firefighter.. As a firefighter.. you can be on an engine... helitack...& hotshot/handcrew... probably others but those are the main ones... Last year was my 1st season with the forest service and I was on an Engine. It really depends on where your location is. Some are better than others..My first engine was awful.. I had a very bad experience with the Capt of my engine... I transferred to another engine at a different location and it was great! I went on many fires off district & we are always training when we arent out on a fire or a medical. Now, I know with Cal Fire.. they are more set up like a city department.. so if thats what u are looking for.. Cal Fire is the way to go.. They actually get to do structure fires in which the forest service policy doesnt not allow that. We do structure protection on the outside but are not allowed inside a burning building.
Now.. helitack.. you get to fly all over and repell out of the helo into a fire..but they also do a lot of just settin up heli-base and can get boring but again.. i guess that goes for everything and the Shots.. they go in buggies and they do back-burns and tree felling.. and handlines... they are gone most all the time on a fire.. engines have rotations in ur district to go "Off Forest".. so if the fire season isnt going that well it could be a while before u will go Off Forest for a large fire but if a fire is on ur district.. you pretty much respond all the time..
I hope some of this helps.. I dont want to keep going.. it could take awhile.
01-12-2010, 01:27 AM #6
USFS is Nation Wide CAL- is Just that, Do some Searching here you will find a lot. I Love the DPG Crews around here, the CAL-fire Machine not so crazy about. -Sorry Bou its not fair for you to not be here to defend it.Courage, Being Scared to Death and Saddling Up anyways.
01-12-2010, 03:43 AM #7
CDF may be the best fit for you based on what you seem to want. FS as the agency seems to me to be trying to stay out of doing All-Risk incident response. That may not be true FS-wide, especially on the SoCal forests, but outside of SoCal, my impression is of the proverbial Ostrich with it's head in the sand hoping to hide. There is lots to do in the FS besides fire that fire crews can do.. cruise timber, stand exams, archeology surveys, etc. And you can get out to other places on someone else's dime outside of the "normal western fire arena"... severity assignments to the Alabama, Florida, Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma.
You aren't likely to do much of that with CDF. It depends on what your interests are.. if you like to travel, and back country roadless area hiking and camping... go Green. If you want to do more urban like firefighting, go CDF.
Oh and the name CalFire... sounds like they were jealous of CalTrans. They are still the CA Dept of Forestry and Fire Protection.. so shouldn't they be CDFFP??
01-12-2010, 09:16 PM #8
- Join Date
- Jun 2006
- Foggy California
Rx: actually the FS in R5 is doing all-risk...excepting "interior structure fire" except when there's that "immediate threat to life" condition... they're just really not happy about it.
Outside of R5, I gather that otherwise the attitude is "weeds and trees", and if ya drove right by a traffic accident or someone screamin for help for a medical problem, you'd be perfectly fine and "legal" when the inevitable call comes to the District Office later. Ironically if ya stopped and rendered aid, well, you'd be "***-out in the wind" if someone said somethin or somethin arose from it. :/
Personally, if you want action, go to SoCal, period. FS, BLM, CDF, doesn't matter down there, it's just a madhouse, period. If I weren't so SoCal-averse, I'd probably try to go at least to the Berdoo, south end of the L-P, or maybe even the Angeles National Moonscape if I was feelin particularly "ballsy".
CDF you will do Engines. Period. As a first-season dude you will not get on a helo. And the only way on a CDF Crew is to commit a felony crime, be classified as a level-1 (lowest risk) inmate by the Centers for Dirtbag Control, and hope like hell you can get a transfer to a con camp...
The FS you can work Engines, Crews (including Type-1 Hotshot crews, though that's not likely your first season), or helitack (again not likely your first season)... there's a lot more variation of work assignments you can get in Fed Fire vs CDF. But the trade-off is lower call volume, lower pay, and if you hit a structure fire, you're gonna be parked well off with 1" lines catchin spotfires, not actually putting out the structure (I'm reminded of ... was it Vinny Dunn, who wrote "Put out the fire and you solve most of your problems"???).
If you can live with that and sleepin under the stars on campaign fires, cool. If you'd rather hotel it up and just have to do the structural stuff in addition to wildland, CDF is the way to go.
One path you can walk in the Fed side you will never do in CDF is "Resource benefit fire" (formerly Wildland Fire Use fire)... CDF is pure "suppress, suppress, suppress" mentality. The Feds you can get on a Fire Use Mod and go camp out for a few days at a time, taking down scientific fire effects info, and "herding" the fire around a bit to accomplish some beneficial fire ecology effects. To me that's a pretty good deal, but I'm a FEMO, so... *shrug* lol I'm a bit biased.My opinions might coincide with someone of importance's POV... I wouldn't know, since I never bothered to ask. My policy is: "Don't ask, don't care."
IACOJ--West Coast PITA
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