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Thread: couple questions for wildfire fighters

  1. #1
    MFD
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    Default couple questions for wildfire fighters

    hi guys you guys probably haven't seen me i'm new to this forum. I'll tell you a little about my experence in firefighting. I'm on Maplewood Volunteer F.D. right now. (now here's the part no one believes) I'm only 19. I've be on there for almost a year.
    now here's the questions
    #1 I wanna wildfire fight next summer and i've looked at some goverment sites and they stink most of the time. any suggestions on what avenues i should take
    #2 I eventally wanna do this full time. any schools that are better than others.
    I'm trying to get my F.D. to get me a F.F.2 and 3 degree in structure. Then i was thinking about going to O.S.U(Oregon state) and getting my 1-3 degree in wildfire.
    #3 any other suggestions or comments.
    thanks guys
    Derek
    aka the Rookie


  2. #2
    Forum Member RxFire's Avatar
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    Derek

    The easiest way to get your Red Card (Wildland certification) is to come work for the feds. They will train you and you will be getting paid at the same time. Take your pick, BLM, USFS, or NPS, each has their own quirks, but BLM and FS are the largest agencies in Wildland fire.

    I would try to get on with one of them anywhere from the Rockies westward... you'll probably see more fire.

    Keep a eye on USA Jobs. Search on series 0462 and 0455. Don't limit your search to one state though, if you do all, it will save you some back and forth.

    Also, if you haven't found it, Wildland Fire.com can have some good info.

    As far as your structure stuff, that is out of my realm of knowledge Another option is to try and get on with CDF (California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection). They do it all... structure, wildland, medical. Alot of folks despise CDF, but there is no getting around that they pay pretty good and have excellent benefits, and pretty good equipment.

    Once you get on, invest in a GOOD pair of boots... you'll go into sticker shock at the price, but it's worth it.

    Good luck

    RxFire

    [ 09-08-2001: Message edited by: RxFire ]
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    Stopping controlled burning DOES NOT stop the burning, only the control!
    http://www.wy.blm.gov/fireuse/fums.htm

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    Howdy,
    I just spent 14 days on the line with a crew from Ohio. Check with your local forestry department. Then get 2 classes called s-130 and s-190. They will get you your "Red Card" the piece of paper that is actually black and white that says that you can be on a federal fire. Get on a western detail through your state, and see if you like it. It is alot of hard work, you don't get alot of showers, or sleep. But you can't beat the fun or satisfaction. I work for a metropolitan structural department, and if I was 15 years younger, I'd try for a 'shot crew. Try the state route to see if you like it, they will also pay for your training. Good Luck
    Onelick

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    hey guys thanks for the info i doubt if i go for the california one that does it all cause I'm not a EMT and i don't wanna be a EMT. probably sometime when i get some time(laughing) I'll take those courses. I've herd the test at the end of the course isn't really hard. the reason i thought i'd get my FF structure 2 and 3( i already got 1) is cause i think it will look good on my resume. and plus with my fire dept if they pay for it education never hurts.someone (if i remember right) told me in Ohio the structure 2 firefighter is 80 hours and i think 120 for the 3. but usually in my area the guys that go for 3s are assiant chiefs or upper in the dept. so i imagine they'll complain if i wanna go for my 3.

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    First off, go get some english and spelling lessons. Then look at either State or Federal agencies. One way or another you are going to have to be an EMT to get a career job. And if you are an EMT and get a job with a crew, you will get a higher pay rate for being a EMT. Incentive. You have to make your own choices and live with them. As far as structures goes, a lot of departments are hiring people with only EMT-B certifications. That way they can train thier new recruits to thier standards.
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    Hey rookie, What test at the end are you talking about? If it's the "Pack Test" it can be a killer if you're not in shape. If you are serious about wildland fire fighting then you need to be "red carded" and the only way is to complete s-130 and s-190 plus pass the pack test. Wildland fire fighting is a completely different animal compared to structure fire fighting. Take RXfire's advice, particularly the boots. Get a good comfortable boot. Red wings are inexpensive Whites are custom made which work the best, Wesco's (what i own) have a great warranty, Nicks Boots i heard are good as well. You can order good boots in Oregan through Drews Boots. Take care your feet, cause thats how you get to the line.
    Good luck,
    Len

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    okay thanks for the comments and suggestions.
    i got another question do you have to have the red card just for summer employeement.
    another thing I'm thinking about getting my HAM radio lisence will this help me in wildfires cause i know they use radios a lot.

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    Forum Member RxFire's Avatar
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    Your "Redcard" is mandatory for ALL wildland FF, and is good for one year. At the end of that year, you must undergo a refresher class as mandated by the NWCG. The class can range from an 8 hour class to 16 depending on the individual unit that is presenting it. And you must take the pack test again. Usually these two are done at the same time.
    As for the Ham radio license... it probably won't help that much if at all. Radios are given to rookies where there are enough to go around.

    Keep asking questions , it's an excellent way to learn.

    [ 09-29-2001: Message edited by: RxFire ]
    IACOJ
    Stopping controlled burning DOES NOT stop the burning, only the control!
    http://www.wy.blm.gov/fireuse/fums.htm

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    okay here's the deal guys. I went through and looked at the courses you have to have for the red card and looked at the jobs wildfire fighters can hold. with being a structure firefighter i really like pump man or hose man . I'd do the hot shot jobs just i like the looks of pumper guy. now here's the questions
    #1 What courses do i gotta take to get FF2
    #2 what courses do i gotta take to get pump man training.
    thanks
    Derek

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    Like everyone else has been telling you, you have to learn to walk before you can run. To be recognized as a FF2 or Basic Firefight by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) to fight fire for them, you have to have the basics.
    You will have to have: I100 - BASIC ICS, S130 - Basic Firefighter, and S190 - Basic Fire Behavior. You will have to take the WORK CAPACITY TESTING or Pack Test to see if you are physically fit to do the job. If you want to be a pump operator then you will have to take some additional training; S211 - Portable Pumps and Water Use, S215 - Fire Ops in Urban Interface, would be a couple of good classes for starters. However, you will not be able to jump right on an engine and be a "pumpman" or engine operator unless you have the knowledge and skills to preform the job. You might be able to get a job as a engine crew member if you are lucky. But you will still have to have the I100, S130, and S190 training, just to be a "hoseman". You will have to find where you can get the training that is recoginzed by the NWCG.

    I've been in the structural part of firefighting for well over 25 years and got started back into the Wildland Firefighting by taking the basic training back in 1992. All the training I've taken during my sturctural years doesn't mount to a lot when it comes to NWCG Standards, not to say that it hasn't been put to use a time or two, but I've received little credit for the structural training. Then if you want to continue to advance in the wildland firefight vocation, then you will have to complete FF1 - Advanced Firefighter Training, which required more classes and complete a few "Task Books", which verify that you have preformed the needed requirements to achieve your qualifications. For some individuals, this may take several years of training and actual fire assignments to complete the needed Task Books. I would also advise you to work a couple of seasons as a "Ground Pounder" to get a feeling for the job. I found that there's a lot of difference in running up 10 to 15 flights of stairs and walking up a 9000 foot mountain.

    Good Luck
    Hickman
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    Like Capt. Hickman said... S-130 and S-190 are the basics, and combined create what is refered to as Basic 32 or guard school. In the greater west, many community colleges offer NWCG recognized courses. But if you are planning on going into wildland fire with a federal agency, you will receive these courses as part of your job.
    It is probably better to take the training this way, as you will get little hints on local conditions and approaches to fire suppression specific to where you will be primarily working. Another benefit is that you will be able to get to meet many of the people you will be working with through-out the season all at once.

    One more point - once you decide where to apply, call the Fire management office(s) where you applied, and tell them you applied to their district. If you take the initative to contact them, it gives them a chance to "pre-interview" you. If you sound like a good choice, it can pay off if they are down to having to make final decisions. Also, calling lets them know you really want the job.

    Good luck and if you need help, just holler.
    IACOJ
    Stopping controlled burning DOES NOT stop the burning, only the control!
    http://www.wy.blm.gov/fireuse/fums.htm

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    alright thanks for info guys. now I looked at the MATS( for classes) is there any training place thats better than other ones. I thought the 130 and 190 was a couple month course. its only a week long . I guess i'm used to structure traning where it takes FOREVER. . I was thinking about going to Alabama,Colorado or Oregon. If you guys have one thats awesome please tell me.

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    i forgot one question. It deals with gear. as a temp wildfire fighter. Do i pay for it or does the goverment pay for it. How does that work. cause i was bored once and priced out a complete set of gear(everything from helmet to boots) was like a 1000-1100 buck. the reason i need to know so i can maybe start saving for it.

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    Maplewood - get redcarded and don't worry about gear. When you get redcarded contact your state interagency coordination center(ask about that at the nearest national or state forest)and tell them you are available as a single resource for an interagency crew. They will issue gear when you are called, except for boots. Most national forests have a volunteer program where you can get training and pickup some ppe.
    if you get redcarded before dec. let me know if you want to go to Alabama (i have some contacts there) or if you want some real wildfire and lots of Rx fire i will help you get on here in Florida.
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    Forum Member RxFire's Avatar
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    If you get on with the feds, your PPE will be issued to you. This will include a pack.

    Click on this link for Burns Interagency Fire Zone. BIFZ is a combined BLM/FS/ODF fire zone. We have the forest and high desert fuel types. A benefit to you is that with such a large zone, we have a need for lots of seasonal firefighters. BIFZ is in southeast Oregon.

    Start saving for boots, as that will be your biggest cost. Boots have been discussed several times on this forum.

    Good luck.

    [ 10-14-2001: Message edited by: RxFire ]
    IACOJ
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    http://www.wy.blm.gov/fireuse/fums.htm

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    you need to save up for boots a good pair of boots is a must on the fire line i'd buy a pair of whites if i could afford them

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    couple things
    #1 i feel a lot better since i don't have to pay for most of my gear.(that can get expensive)
    #2 is there any "red-card course" coming up soon as in like before the end of the year?
    #3 hey helitak that would sound cool. cause i've wanted to do that since i was a little boy. I'll give you the word if if can get trained before the end of the year.
    #4 I know this is a semi-unfair question. which ones do you guys like far as boots nicks or whites? and on my structure fire boot i gotta wear a 15 but a 14 in like normal boots.(i'm 6 ft 5 300 lb). and whats the price of whites and nicks boots.

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    Plan on about $350 or so for Nick's or White's. They're both good boots. I would again look at the websites you were provided to find the S130/190 courses. You will need these before you go anywhere. And if you're that interested in doing wildfire, start getting in shape for ground pounding. The days and/or nights are long and you're working till you're tired. Plus don't forget the pack test that you'll need to pass before going out on the line.

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    Hey Maplewood wow sounds like you really want to get out and get on with a wildland crew.
    Maybe one of the first things you need to do is go with a type II crew that way you can get your feet wet a little and see what wildland fire is all about. When your not on fires you will be brushing trailes, punching line or doing things around the station.

    Second, fire season comes up very fast its a good idea to start running now. Start slow then figure work your way up to at least 1 12 mile run a week with running anywhere from 1 - 9 miles a day. And be able to run a mile and half in around 10 mins. That way when you do get on a crew you will not come in last place on the runs.

    The key is get all the wildland school you can. Get out and learn how to use a saw as well because sometime or another you will use one. A good book about what a wildland firefighter does is Jumping Fire its mostly for smoke jumpers but it gives you idea about no sleep, showers and having your girl friend leave you.

    A good web page with lots of photos is spot fire images

    Mike is a good friend of mine and has been in the wildfire business for a number of years.

    Good luck on your hunt for a wildland job.

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    Derek,
    From reading your posts, I think you may be confusing the Ohio firefighter certification levels with those for wildland firefighting. The other folks have done a very good job of describing the wildland certifications. Here's the official Ohio levels:
    • Firefighter 1-A: the 36 hour course that is the minimum required to fight fire. All volunteer firefighters must have at least a 1-A certification within 1 year of joining a department.
    • Firefighter 1-B: an additional 84 hour course that brings you up to NFPA Firefighter 1 certification. Many departments look for this level in hiring part-tiime personnel. Many places teach a 120 hour firefighter 1 course that combines the 1-A & 1-B.
    • Firefighter 1-C or II (two names for the same thing): an addtional 120 hour class that brings you to NFPA Firefighter 2 certification. All full-time personnel are required to have this certification within 1 year of hire. Some places teach as 240 hour course that includes all three levels at once.

    As other folks have mentioned, EMT-Basic is a near universal requirement for employment in most departments - don't know about wildland. In most cases, paramedic certification is either a requirement or a real plus for full time hire.

    Hope all this helps as you consider a full-time fire service career.
    Paul
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