Thread: How to start

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    Default How to start

    Looking through the previous posts, I cannot find one pertaining to the "how to become a wildland fireghter" question. Would you folks put together a meat and potatoes guide for us all.

    Thanks

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    a quick search of these forums produces many results for this topic. Here is one for this year. http://cms.firehouse.com/forums2/sho...694#post436694

    However, most places already have their crews hired and are training. If you are interested in contract fire crews here are some contacts http://www.nwsa.us/index.php?Page=4
    IACOJ
    Stopping controlled burning DOES NOT stop the burning, only the control!
    http://www.wy.blm.gov/fireuse/fums.htm

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    RxFire had a good list from NWSA. Here is a list of contract trainers in The Norther Rockies Region.

    http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/fire/nrcg/Tr..._providers.xls

    You can find this and more info such as the National Wildfire and prescribed fire quals at Northern Rockies Coordination Center
    http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/fire/nrcc/

    Also check with your local BLM or Forest Service. In NW Mt. as a volunteer, we can go to any of the local training at no charge.

    Stay safe.
    Last edited by skvfd5; 05-15-2005 at 06:31 PM.

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    Thanks for the links. I understand it is late in the year. I want a head start for next.

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    where can you find out where training is held to get your red card and to get perpared for next year i live in the state of wisconsin i have looked just about everywhere i know some of the classes are i100 s130 a190 who would offer these classes

    thanks

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    I too am extremely interested in becoming a wildland firefighter but have no idea where to start. I have looked at those sites but am confused on where to truly begin if it from scratch. I am currently in EMT school, but when I am through in August I would like to get the training I need so that I might be ready for next season. What is the best place to start? Who do wildland firefighters work for (I have seen everything from US Forestry to independent contracted companies offering jobs)? Also, if it is seasonal are local Departments pretty understanding if you go off to do wildland part of the year, how is the best way to handle that?

    Anyway, some of these are probably stupid questions but I just want to know all I can and have the proper steps to take in writing. Thanks so much guys!

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    Talk to you your department, tell them you are looking at leaving for the summer and see where they stand on that. I take a leave of absence for six months, but the time I am there I do all I can to help. If it is a slow season I try and get home for a training or two just to show them I am dedicated to the department.
    As far as getting the classes, go in and talk to your local BLM or FS office, you may decide not to work for them but they normally have lists of all the classes and when they are being offered.

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    Originally posted by FadeToBlack
    I too am extremely interested in becoming a wildland firefighter but have no idea where to start. I have looked at those sites but am confused on where to truly begin if it from scratch. I am currently in EMT school, but when I am through in August What is the best place to start?
    For the USFS, apply thru www.avuedigitalservices.com - you will have to set up an account, but it's free. For BLM, NPS, USFWS, and a few others, http://www.firejobs.doi.gov/ . Also call anyplace you think you would like to work, if you are a student, they may be able to use special hiring rules to get you. For the non-gov't (Fed or state) call the companies on that list talk to them, explain yourself (SELL YOURSELF - they are private companies, they hire who they want).

    Originally posted by FadeToBlack I would like to get the training I need so that I might be ready for next season.
    If you come to work for the BLM, USFS, or NPS, they will give you the training - in fact since you will be an employee, you get paid for the training instead of having to shell out greenbacks for it.

    Originally posted by FadeToBlack Who do wildland firefighters work for (I have seen everything from US Forestry to independent contracted companies offering jobs)?
    Yep, pretty much what you said. Mostly the federal land management agencies listed above... but also the Air Force has a few wildland crews, other fed agencies such as BIA and then there's State depts of forestry (i.e. California Dept. of Foresty)

    Read the hiring pages from the feds... if you get too bogged down, and give up, someone else will have the job you could've had.

    Good Luck.
    IACOJ
    Stopping controlled burning DOES NOT stop the burning, only the control!
    http://www.wy.blm.gov/fireuse/fums.htm

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    Definitely talk with your dept. The MT. DNRC unit that I work for is only 1 mile from were I live so Iím home every night unless Iím on a fire or on a dispatch. Because we are a volunteer dept. they really could not tell us we could or could not go on a dispatch. They did ask that if all possible not to have all 3 of us that were Engine Bosses and on the dept. leave at the same time. We did not have to take a leave of absence since most of our dispatches were for 14 days with the exception of the Shuttle recovery that was a 21 day dispatch.

    In reading other posts by ramseycl and RxFire, I think they will agree that you need to temper your training with real life experiences to progress in this area. In order to advance you have to prove yourself ready for the responsibilities that will be asked of you. There is no way to get this just by going to classes.


    Stay safe.

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    Crewdaug,

    Contact the Eastern Area Coordination Center, they may be able to help you with finding training. Their address is:

    Eastern Area Coordination Center BHW Federal Building
    1 Federal Drive,
    Room G-20
    Ft. Snelling, MN 55111-4080
    (612) 713-7300 (voice)
    (612) 713-7317 (fax)

    Stat safe

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    Default Yo...

    If youre interested in something in California, check
    this out-

    http://www.fire.ca.gov/php/careers_seasonal.php

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    Well guys, just got back from Wildland Fire academy and passed and recieved my certs for I-100, L-180, S-190, and S-130. Thanks again for all the info on where to start, I can't wait to get out there!
    Wildland Firefighter/EMT-B
    "Why be Structured when you can go Wild?"

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    A little late now, it is raining here

    Birken

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    I'm not the most experienced guy here but don't forget,what you just learned is the basics.You'll learn more about what works out on calls than you did at the school.
    I don't ever want to stop learning this job.Someday,I might have to use something from school to save my handsome self.


    Quote Originally Posted by FadeToBlack
    Well guys, just got back from Wildland Fire academy and passed and recieved my certs for I-100, L-180, S-190, and S-130. Thanks again for all the info on where to start, I can't wait to get out there!

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    Ok, I didn't see this last May but I'll give it a shot, you should still have time to get to work trying to get hired for next year.

    Rx fire is correct, most of the time the Federal wildland agencies (USFS, BLM, NPS, USF&W, BIA etc) will provide training, however who would you hire if you had the choice the candidate with the training of the one you have to train. This is really important when we have to hire a mid season replacement, at the beginning of the season there is usually a basic 40 class, so its more an issue of hiring someone with the initiative to get the training on their own vs someone who waited for us to provide the training, but mid-season the individual module will have to provide this training and I'm sure you will understand we have better things to do in July or August than providing basic training to one person.

    Go down and talk to some of the module leaders where you are interested in working, they should be able to tell you where the jobs might be and where you can get the training, many times the basic 40 is taught through a community college, regional occupational program (ROP) or local volunteer fire departments. I've found most non- fed wildland people tend to think engines are the top of the food chain but for what ever reason (money most likely since engines typically get the least overtime) engines are usually the best place to start, hotshots and helitack typically pull their people off of the engine crews after they have had a season or two. Fuels crews and project crews and timber crews are another good place to start, these ofetn have other primary duties than fire, so you may spend your season building a camp ground, trails or cutting trees but you will still get fire training, see a fair amount of fire and get a really good foot in the door (unless you don't do a good job obviously). Also the wildland classes are often taught by the wildland crew supervisors, we will remember the guys playing pencils in the back of class instead of paying attention and we also notice the ones who take the extra time to learn or help other in class, remember that when you are in class.

    I can not emphasize enough the need to talk to the people you want to work for, when we go to hire we literally get a list of names and not much more to set them apart, so if they have your name and you've been able to sell yourself your chances just got alot better. When I hire I try to take the time to pull resumes and call the people I have to choose from to make my decision but you would be surprised how many just grab the first one on the list unless they have someone they already know about (like someone who took the time to stop in and say, "I'd like a job, please hire me"). I know many in the structure world recommend bringing gifts (pies, ice cream, bags of coffee etc), I have not found that to be neccessary in the wildland world, most of the people I know would actually be a little uncomfortable being bribed like that, generally coming in with a good attitude and taking the time to clean up a bit (a suit and tie is overkill, that may be the standard with the structure guys but a plain clean shirt and pants is usually good enough for us, just dress nice but you're not going to the prom ), sell yourself but be humble, you want to make us pick you over others but if you come off too full of yourself it won't help.

    All we are looking for is someone who will work hard and do as we ask, if you have training and experience beyond the basics that is great but remember we are hiring you to keep your head down and sweat alot, not to be an IC. Generally a couple years working a hard labor outdoor job (construction, farm/ranch etc) will count as much or more than fire training, we can teach you how to fight fire, it is not as easy to teach someone how to work hard. EMT is always a plus, even if you work someplace that doesn't respond to medicals we like to have EMTs on the fireline to take care of injured firefighters.

    As far as training, I would suggest

    minimum, S130 firefighter training, S190 intro to wildland fire behavior, I-100 intro to the incident command system and L-180 human factors on the fireline, these classes are usually offered as a package commonly known as the basic 40.

    Useful extra training, medical first responder, EMT, hazmat awareness, hazmat operations, structural firefighting training / experience.

    You can find training opportunites here

    http://www.nationalfiretraining.net/


    The links Rxfire listed for jobs are good, another one is

    http://www.usajobs.opm.gov/

    you want to search under series 0462 Forestry Technician and 0455 Range Technician that is the title we hire firefighters under.


    This applies mainly to the Federal agencies, CDF is another beast entirely much more along the lines of a structure department, a good agency to work for but much more formal in their hiring methods. I have little experience with the state wildland agencies of states outside of CA.

    You don't say what part of the country you are in so I can't be more specific, but this should help you along anyway. If you have more questions feel free to ask.

    Fadetoblack, good job getting the basic training, you would be surprised how many get hired without any training at all, now that you have it get out there and start talking to crews.

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    Quote Originally Posted by doughesson
    I'm not the most experienced guy here but don't forget,what you just learned is the basics.You'll learn more about what works out on calls than you did at the school.
    I don't ever want to stop learning this job.Someday,I might have to use something from school to save my handsome self.
    That is the attitude you will need to have a career in wildland fire, it is very common to have firefighters groaning when we start teaching more advanced subjects like predicting fire behavior, tactics, resource characteristics (type 1 vs type 3 engines), ICS etc, some take the view that they are just a GS4 and they just have to follow directions, and that is a valid point of view but unlike structure departments where one can spend their career as a tailboard firefighter there are very few career wildland firefighter jobs, most are temporary seasonals so if you want a career in wildland you will have to get to at least a low level supervision job, you don't do this by learning how to IA a fire after you become a squad boss, you have to learn it before you can become a squad boss, that means you have to understand why the squad boss, captain, IC etc makes the decisions they make, after a few seasons you should be able to predict what actions your boss is going to make, if they don't do what you expected on a fire that is when you need to ask why they did what they did (after the fire), that is how you learn.

    Also we are only human, I appreciate it when one of my firefighters brings up a safety concern, even if I already had dealt with it I don't mind because it lets me know they are paying attention so that someday when I do screw up I have a safety net in my crew. If my crew never gets beyond the basics, I don't have that extra set of eyes to help me out.
    Last edited by NonSurfinCaFF; 10-27-2005 at 01:54 AM.

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    Where do you work buddy, I did not know we had a real brush bunny on here. I think it used to be the other way around, people would tend to start on a type 2 crew then get bumped up to an engine or type 1 crew (hotshots) at least that is how I did it. Crew work is dang hard work so it is a way of paying your dues but any more I think the convicts (CDF) are doing most of the crew work and people are indeed getting hired on engines. It used to be that with the smaller number of people on an engine they all had to have a pretty good range of experience but I guess that is not the case any more. Also I hear the supply of convicts to make up crews is dwindling and CDF is experimenting with hiring paid people for crews again. I think in a perfect world being on a type 2 crew for 2 or 3 seasons before being anything else would be the way to go but it is not a perfect world. With rookies on an engine you have to teach them basic firefighting as well as how to operate the extra engine hardware, plus that all important skill of water conservation which crew folks have a much better incentive to learn very carefully and appreciate it when they have any water at all

    Birken

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    I'm an engine captain for the USFS in California.

    Not sure when you started but the old BD crews are long gone, even most of the type 2 fuels crews are gone to, we don't cut timber like we used to so most of the timber crews have disappeared too. There are 5 and 10 person crews here and there which are still a good place to get a foot in but those also come and go.

    In 2001 we got a big increase, more engines, more type 1 crews, more helicopters, a real fire prevention program but not many type 2 crews.

    The hotshots have a really great program and for people willing to work hard and be away all summer, who can compete with all that OT. Helitack is Helitack, and aviation sort of has their own little world which is hard to break into. Also with the Hotshots and Helitack they have experience restrictions, Hotshots can only have 20% of the crew in their first season (so only 4 on the crew can be rookies), you have to have at least 1 or 2 seasons to even take the helitack class, without the type 2 crews that pretty much leaves the engines to break in the rookies. There are quite a few OC or blue card crews (on call crews) though which has kind of taken the place of the old FS regular crews but those don't have the advantage of regular hours of work, these crews also require that the crew members live within a 2 hour response area so the crew can be ready to go in 2 hours from the initial dispatch.

    CDF doesn't really figure into our hiring patterns, they have actually reduced the number of con crews they maintain due to budgets and the pool of qualified inmate firefighters. For CDF engines are about the only place to get hired, they also require experience for their helitack and I am assuming most people on these boards can't get a job on their handcrews (well I guess they could steal a car )

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    Yeah I guess things have changed. I got my start here with the FS in Ca but for several years worked on an engine in the Pacific Northwest. Now I am back in Ca with a rural fire district as a mechanic and engineer. We have zero actual responsibility for brush/grass fires, it is CDF's responsibility but we respond just the same because usually the best way to protect homes and improvements (our responsiblity) is to put the fire out. So we pretty much do the same thing as CDF on most fires. Trouble is only a few of us have much meaningful wildland experience. It kind of scares me but I think NIFC or whoever is sort of squeezing CDF into following the national standards (red cards and the like) which could take a while but I would like it. We do whatever CDF does as far as fire preparedness and quals.

    Even though it is not the District's responsibility I sure do enjoy going to veg fires, but I don't go away much any more. I also enjoy sleeping in my own bed and not having to babysit in my down time

    To answer the poster's original question, find a local forestry agency and ask. Usually (CDF excluded) the hiring process is very informal.

    Birken

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    Quote Originally Posted by doughesson
    I'm not the most experienced guy here but don't forget,what you just learned is the basics.You'll learn more about what works out on calls than you did at the school.
    I don't ever want to stop learning this job.Someday,I might have to use something from school to save my handsome self.
    Yes, trust me, I am already looking at seeing what other certs I can get before next fire season and I definitely know how much more hands on reinforces what you learned in class, as well as things that were never even mentioned. I am really excited and am 100% willing and wanting this job!
    Wildland Firefighter/EMT-B
    "Why be Structured when you can go Wild?"

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