1. #1
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    Default Wildland firefighting near Long Island/ NY area

    Hello everybody I am knew to this site and hoping you could help me out. I live on Long Island and I have been a volunteer firefighter for the past 4 years and have my Emt certification. I am pretty new to wildland firefighting and have no experience with it because here on Long Island it's pretty much all structural firefighting with a few brush fires. I understand were in fire season now so I will have to wait until January to start applying. I read up on a few things such as obtaining your red card, work capacity test, and what classes to take S-190 S-130 before applying for a federal job. My question is if I live on Long Island is it possible for me to be a wildland firefighter or not? would I be able to drive to another town in upstate NY or state such as Connecticut and they would ship me out to a wildfire say in Idaho, Colorado etc? or would I have to live close by a state where wildfires happen more often. Also once hired do they put you through an academy of some sort or would it be my job to find training and a place to take the work capacity test. I am a little confused about the whole process its a little different then testing for a city department. Thanks

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    Living in Long Island actually isn't a bad place to be for wildfire, depending on how close you are to Brookhaven National Laboratory. They have a wildfire academy in October every year (http://www.dec.ny.gov/education/22146.html) where you can take your S-130/S-190. I have never been to the New York academy but I imagine there will also be a pack test and you will get your red card, the question becomes through what jurisdiction. From the website it looks like the department of environmental conservation, but I think a really good start would be to contact them.

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    Thanks, yea I saw that website a couple of days ago but I didn’t really understand it. They’re stating that this academy is for people who want to become wildland firefighters but are you offered a job once through it. I saw websites like usajobs and Avue and I understand that these are run by federal agencies. All of the information on the internet states to go to these websites to apply for jobs to become a wildland firefighter. The internet also says that once you are hired through the agency they will make you take the capacity test and train you to become a wildland firefighter, so what would be the point to go to Brookhaven national lab?

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    My understanding is that crews look for individuals who have already have the FFII certification. From my perspective of never having been hired by a crew or done hiring this still makes sense. It shows that you as an individual are committed to wanting to learn and become involved going out on your own to become certified. It also shows the hiring crew that you posses the knowledge or ability to learn the required information/skills (assuming you pass).

    My fireline experience is limited to work with the Maryland State Fire Crew. Like the name suggests this is a crew run through the state Department of Forestry. How it works in Maryland, when a crew is requested the overhead (full time state forest service employees) call up the crew members and put together a crew. For the 2012 season I believe the crew had a total of about 100 members (if any Maryland guys are on here I'm sure they'll shoot me down immediately with the exact number). This includes all members, and as you will learn if you take the class there are specific roles in a crew that you need higher certifications for. So basically as a FFII on the crew I have to hope my name gets picked as one of the about 100 other people to be called out, however if you are certified as a squad boss, sawyer, or overhead I could be bidding for one of those spots.

    What needs to be emphasized is that it is that for a state fire crew (like Maryland) you work on an ON-CALL basis. Meaning that I only get work when they call me for that assignment. This can range from a Tuesday afternoon fire the next county over where I'll be back home that night, or a full 14 day plus travel assignment out west. Regardless, you can gain wildland fire experience which is extremely important on all of the applications that you will fill out for a seasonal job with a federal crew.

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    Once again thanks for your help. Correct me if I am wrong but according to Avue and usajobs I meet the qualifications through my education. Taking one bio class at 4 credits and one math class at 3 credits gives me 7 credits while the qualification only says that you need 6.

    (Forestry Aid (Fire) SUBSTITUTION OF EDUCATION FOR EXPERIENCE: Experience requirements may be met by successful completion of one (1) academic year of post high school education which included at least 6 semester/9 quarter hours in any combination of courses such as range management or conservation, agriculture, forestry, wildlife management, engineering, biology, mathematics, or other natural or physical sciences.

    (I got this off of Avue) Your saying even though I meet the qualifications I should still take some classes at the academy (Brookhaven National Lab)?

    One more thing, I am not applying now but when I do down the road Avue asks you to choose up to 9 locations. I saw some places they offered that would take me about 2 to 4 hours to drive there. Some places in Connecticut and Upstate NY. You think these agencies would go to wildfires all over the Country or do agencies tend to stay close by where they are located. So instead of fighting fires in the West coast I would stay by the East coast?

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    If you are looking to be involved in fire then yes, certifications are very important and over course the most important is yours basics.

    Again I feel I should make a disclaimer here, I do not have any experience working for a federal agency and I myself in a very similar boat to yourself trying to work my way into wildland firefighting.

    But what we have in common can be a benefit because I may be able to give you some insight about working your way in as an east coast flat lander.

    One the federal application websites it says the minimum requirements, and it sounds like you meet them, so technically you are eligible for hire. The problem is you are eligible and so are thousands of other people, what you need to do is to exceed the minimum requirements. Like I mentioned before it shows that you want the job.

    Where to apply is still something I'm trying to quantify myself. Basically what I understand is each of those cities you can check has a unit with that position available, but because the position is often just "forestry technician" that be a hand crew or a engine crew. The online application is basically a requirement again to make sure every person meets the minimum and to follow the **** show that is a federal hiring process. What you need to do is find crews that you want to work for and contact them. The find out which city you should check for your online application.

    If your brain thinks like I do, and for the sake of your sanity I hope it doesn't, your next question is how do I find out where all the possible crews are and their contacts. To that I don't have a good answer other than finding the contact to the headquarters of forests or parks, call, and ask for more information.

    For your question about working on the east coast and going out west I'm not positive but I'll use my logic to work through it. It is less efficient for the federal government to bring in crews from the east out west considering the time and monetary costs. Of course there are examples of extreme conditions when this is warranted, but if fire is what you want I imagine the west is best (hey that rhymes) or if you want to stay on the east coast perhaps Florida.

    Hope this helps, and hopefully one of the more experiences guys can chime in and give some better information.

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    Thanks, the information you are giving me here is helping me catch on to things. Like you said out west is best for forest fires. Since I live on the east coast and do not plan on leaving LI, that means my options are narrowed down to east coast crews correct? What I am saying is it impossible for me to try and get on one of the west coast crews with the federal agency but still live home in the east coast? Have you ever heard of them personally shipping people back and forth to be with there crew for say a 14 day assignment going back home and then being shipped back out west for another assignment. I read some things off the internet where it took some crew members up to 8hrs (from being dispatched) to meet up with their crew for an assignment. A plane ride to California is about 7hrs from here. What about Florida, would I be able to be with a Florida crew if I still live on Long Island or do you have to be within a 2 hr radius of your crew. Would you happen to know?

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    If you are planning on staying on the east coast than yes. It sounds like what you want to do is only go out for fires which is perfectly understandable, but how you go about doing it may be different than how most other people do.

    If you are stuck on the Island (I have family on my dad's side who have never left, I don't really get it but more power to you) than your options may become even more limited. My best suggestion would be to contact the NY state forestry department and inquire about being certified for a federally available crew. As big as NY is and as most forest you have in your own state, including a national forest, I imagine there is a crew. Like I explained with Maryland's crew you get certified, take your annual pack test and make yourself available. Depending on how busy the fire season is out west the the crew availability within your own dispatch region you may mobilize with a crew for a western assignment. The thing about this is it's often only on an on-call basis so you only work if they call you. I went two seasons without ever leaving the state on a forest fire. I'm not sure if you were looking to do that as a job but it doesn't seem like a reliable option to me, basically putting all your eggs in assuming you'll get mobilized. You could try and have another job with a state agency and perhaps discuss with them that if you are called out your be allowed to leave on short notice.

    In Maryland we get our call sometimes at most 18 hours before we mobilize. But if you're thinking about communicating to Florida in with 24 hours notice could cost a pretty penny. Also, most full time crews require you be available on less notice during normal work hours.

    I would start communicating with NY state guys and get some information from them if available.

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    I will definitely be getting in touch with the NY state forestry department. I appreciate all of your help, I did have a large amount of questions because I was quite confused. Just one more question, I am not sure whether or not you answered this question, but I am aware of that fact that you said If I am on an East coast crew they can be mobilized to a wild fire out west. Is it impossible for me to apply for a temporary seasonal position out west to work with one of the west coast crews for 6 months while not moving from Long Island, would the government pay for my travel expenses. Or would I have to move out West in order to be able to apply for one of those west coast temporary seasonal crews.

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    If you want to work for a crew out west you'd have to move there. The government will pay for mobilization but only of the whole crew, so they won't cover what it takes for you to fly out to your crews mobilization center.

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    Cody if you want to stay on the east coast I'd look at state forestry agencies. I expect NY, PA, FL and NJ have the largest wildland opportunities in your general area.

    The US Forest Service, National Park Service and US Fish & Wildlife do have a presence in the east but they are far smaller than in the west. Most federal land management agencies rely heavily on cross trained personnel who do fire on the side. In the west we have many dedicated fire crews but in less fire prone areas seasonal fire jobs may be hidden in with other jobs (trail crews etc).

    The US Forest Service is the largest employer of wildland firefighters, you can look up forests by state

    http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/map/....shtml#NewYork

    It looks like NY only has the Finger Lakes National Forest. If you call the number listed for a ranger district they should be able to direct you to someone in fire that can help answer your specific questions. You can poke around that list and see what else might be in your area of consideration.

    If you are willing to move for the season most locations have inexpensive barracks available (my guys pay around $200 a month which includes all utilities). If you take a job out here you are responsible for getting yourself to the worksite.

    It is highly unlikely you will find a crew willing to fly you out for a fire. Many forests in California sponsor 2-15 on call crews. We have 6-10 (varies year to year) on call crews through my forest and all members must be able to be at the mobilization point within 2 hours of receiving a call. From that mobilization point we cover all costs, but they have to get themselves to and from that point.

    If you can find a similar local crew, then yes you can stay on the east coast and go to fires in the west. We don't usually bring eastern crews out west until we are getting depleted though, so western crews will almost always be busier than east coast crews.

    It is possible to get hired and sent through the required training, but your odds are much better if you already have it. The basic training is 40 hours and consists of S-130 firefighter training, S-190 Intro to wildland fire behavior, I-100 Intro to ICS and L-180 Human factors on the fireline.




    Not sure if I hit all your questions so feel free to restate any I missed, and I'll do my best to answer them. You might try looking at the resume thread as well, some of my answers there may be useful to you as well.

    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/t124862/ (Resume)

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