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  1. #1
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    Default California Advice

    Hey all. I recently accepted a position as a wildland firefighter for the US Forest Service at Modoc National Forest in California. Although I'm very excited about the job, I'm also quite nervous. I'm experienced in structural firefighting and rescue, but this is a whole new game to me. I was hoping for a little advice about what I should expect when I get out there, and what I can do to prepare. Physically, what should my mile time be? How many pushups/situps should I be able to do in one minute? Two minutes? I just want to make sure I'm as prepared as possible. Also, is there anything that I definately should bring that the forest service won't supply me with? And what kind of training is the forest service going to supply for me? Thanks everyone.

    Be safe. Stay low.

    Palmero


  2. #2
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    What kind of crew are you going to be on? It can make a difference on what answers you will receive. As far as PT goes if you can manage a 1.5 mile run under 12 minutes that is a good start, I would work on distance vs time since most runs I've seen crews make are 3+ miles, not fast 1 mile runs. Getting in some hiking with a 30-50 lb pack up steep hills would also be good since running and hiking are not the same and you will do both.

    As far as things to buy, the most important are boots and you are quickly running out of time to get a good pair broken in. These will not be provided for you and are probably the most important piece of equipment you will have. Don't go cheap either or your feet will pay for it, plan on spending $200 or so on the low end, Red Wing's 699 Logger should be ok if you are on an engine crew, Westco and Wolverine also make some decent boots in this price range, if possible try some on, not all feet are the same, I don't mind Redwings but others complain they are uncomforatble.

    If you are going to be on a handcrew, helitack or Hotshot crew, or you think you might be doing this for a few seasons or even as a career you might want to go ahead and get a higher quality boot like Nicks, or Whites Smoke Jumper, not only are these boots more comfortable but they will last much longer, you can expect 1-2 seaons with a pair of boots like Redwings, less with a cheap pair of boot, but a good boot like Nicks or Whites will last 3-4 years and can be rebuilt for about 1/2 the price of a new pair. Personally I like Whites but they run $350+.

    Drews boots is an online seller that has quite a few brands of boots that would be appropriate and cover a range of prices. Also make sure you have a good pair of running shoes.

    Other stuff to bring, is stuff for your two week bag I like to make up a drug kit with vitamins, cold/flu meds, sunscreen, chaplip stuff of choice, bug repellant etc, it is not uncommon to catch camp crud while on an assignment and this stuff will help reduce the effects or at least make you a little less miserable. Other good things to have are some books (if you like to read) or a walkman since there is often down time, hackysack used to be pretty popular while waiting around although I haven't seen that much recently, a note book if you like to keep track of where you've been / what you did, extra sunglasses, camera to record your adventures, basically little stuff to make you comfortable, also keep in mind stuff you will want on days off like swim suit, bike etc depending on what kind of local recreation there is. Your crew should be able to help you with the more mundane stuff like what clothing to pack.

    As far as what to expect, fun and pain, and lots of both. If you have no wildland experience you will get some, you can also expect to have your crew pick your brain about the non-wildland stuff you've done and will likely use you for medical stuff. If you don't already have it you will be getting the basic wildland firefighter 40 hour training (S130 firefighter training, S190 fire behavior and I100 basic ICS).

    Most supervisors are very open to explaining what is going on, and why they are doing the things they are doing, just try to make sure you ask at the right time (40' flames coming right at you is probably not the right time). Plan on doing some weird stuff like building fence, clearing trails etc, it is not usually a huge part of the job but expect it and don't ask what it has to do with fighting fire (nothing, it is just a part of the job since you are there to support other forest fuctions as well as fire).

    If you would like a good book on wildland firefighting to get a step ahead, I would suggest The Firefighter's Handbook of wildland fire from Deer valley Press, it is one of the best wildland books I've found.

    Like any newbie, go in with big eyes and ears and be polite.

    Good luck and if you have more questions feel free to ask.
    Last edited by NonSurfinCaFF; 03-04-2005 at 10:36 PM.

  3. #3
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    Hey, thanks for the information - very helpful. I just looked around a little bit online for some boots, do you happen to know anything about Thorogood? Are they acceptable, or will I want to cut my feet off by the end of the summer? Thanks again.

    Be safe. Stay low.

  4. #4
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    Don't have any personal experience with them, if you decide to go that way I'd suggest this model, T834-6391- Men's Thorogood 10inch Wildland Fire Fighting Boot, its $10 more than the 8" boot and I can tell you for some reason when I had 8" boots I always seemed to get hit about 9" up my shin so that little extra boot helps. Personally I prefer the logger style boot with the high heel, you get better traction with it.

    Any of these should be ok

    http://drewsboots.com/firelogg.htm

    There is a pair for $179 the E610V, again I don't have personal experience with the boot but if I were going to buy a less expensive boot I'd consider it. Drews sells alot of boots to wildland firefighters so I would expect it is decent quality. A liitle higher up in price at $239 the DRA110V is rebuildable so if you expect to use the boots a few seasons that may make the extra $60 worthwhile.

    The White's Smoke Jumper #400V and Nicks Hotshot #25V are pretty much the standard with the career wildland firefighters, but I wouldn't spend that much on my first pair of boots unless you are going on a hotshot crew, have at least some delusion of trying to make a career of wildland (lots of work for not alot of money) or you can actually afford to spend the money without missing a few meals. Drews is in Klamath Falls, OR which is not far from the Modoc, if you are already local to the area I believe they actually have a shop so you can stop by and try on a few different pairs until you find one you like.

    I always have trouble suggesting boots because I love my White's but I also remember my first season when I could barely afford Redwings and they were just fine for 3 seasons. You will also want to get some boot oil since you need to oil your boots every 3-4 weeks to keep them from drying out.

    I have no finacial interest in Drew's its just where I bought my boots and I know they have decent prices and products.

  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber ramseycl's Avatar
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    Are you getting government housing? If so you might want to contact your supervisor before you go and find out if the housing is furnished, and what you need to supply. Last year my housing was furnished, but I had to bring pots/pans/dishes and bedding.
    I would suggest finding someone with some experience and sit down with them for an afternoon and just talk about the job. I did that before I left for my first season and it really helped. She went through her line gear and red bag with me and I got a lot of good ideas.

  6. #6
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    Hey guys. Thanks for the information, you've both given me a lot to think about. Please let me know if any other helpful information comes to mind. Thanks again!

    Be safe. Stay low.

  7. #7
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    I just purchased the Thorogood 10" NFPA 1977 Wildland Firefighting Boot, from thefirestore.com, I'll let you know how they feel. Im in the same boat as you; newbie to the biz. I figured the 10" would be more practical than the 8"
    EMT/FF

    FOOPS

  8. #8
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    Zeek - How're those boots working out for you?

  9. #9
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    I ended up getting these:
    http://www.forestry-suppliers.com/pr...ge.asp?id=3657

    so far i've just been wearing them around the house trying to break them in, but they are very comfortable so far. When the fire season starts ill know for sure.

    What station are you going to be working at....my dept has mutual aid with CDF.
    Last edited by EMTZeek; 03-23-2005 at 11:44 PM.
    EMT/FF

    FOOPS

  10. #10
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    I'm going to be stationed at Crowder Flat Guard Station in Modoc National Forest. Extreme north eastern CA. Where are you at?

  11. #11
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    Santa Barbara County....I dont think we'll bump into each other... unless there is a huge fire
    EMT/FF

    FOOPS

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