Jobs in Wildland Fire
Jobs in wildland fire management fall into two general categories: Operations and Support
Operations - jobs usually are field-level technical positions.
Support - jobs provide management and usually are regional/national positions.
Please see the Fire Management Career Ladder which provides an overview of various jobs and a general range of years in a career in fire management.
Jobs in operations can be further separated by functional expertise. Here are a few examples:
Wildland fire Engine
These positions serve on a wildland fire-engine working with specialized equipment, performing tough tasks such as constructing fire line with hand tools or hose lays, conducting burnout operations, and putting out hotspots (called mopping up) near the fire’s edge.
Wildland Fire Handcrew
Crew members build fireline using pulaskis, shovels, and chainsaws. They perform burnout and mop-up activities and often participate in project work consisting of thinning and piling of wildland fire fuels. Some specialized handcrews are trained in monitoring techniques and are used on fires in remote areas where management actions may consist of observing and reporting on fire location and burning conditions. There are different types and configurations of handcrews ranging from five to 20 people, with 20 being the most common. Hotshot crews consist of 20 persons and are one of the most highly trained and experienced crew types.
Wildland Fire Aviation (fixed wing)
Fixed-wing jobs include smokejumpers and airtanker support positions. Smokejumpers are highly trained, experienced wildland firefighters, parachuting into fires during the initial attack phase. Smokejumpers work in various configurations, from small groups or as part of a larger incident management organization. At least one year of wildland fire experience is required and most smokejumpers have at least five seasons of experience on handcrews or engine crews. Airtanker support positions load and service aircraft that deliver retardant to wildland fires.
Wildland Fire Aviation (rotory wing)
Rotory wing positions in wildland fire consist primarily of helitack firefighters. These firefighters travel to wildland fires in a helicopter and either land or rappel near the fire. Once there, they construct fireline using a mix of tools (pulaskis, shovels, and chainsaws, etc). They often patrol fires and work the edges of a fire. Additional duties include providing support to other firefighters by loading and unloading personnel and supplies, and configuring the helicopter for dropping water and delivering supplies via sling-load.
Fuels technicians conduct prescribed fires, collect fuel inventory data, and complete piling and thinning operations as part of project work on wildland fire fuels. They gather data and record information on fuel types, weather conditions, fire behavior, and status of work.
Fire Prevention and Outreach
These positions contact visitors, local businesses, and homeowners to inform them about fire danger and advise them on precautions to take to prevent wildfires. They also educate the public about fire's role in the ecosystem and how to protect their property in case of a wildland fire.
Wildland fire dispatchers use radios, telephones, and computers to order and dispatch resources to wildland fires. They are responsible for processing information on fire weather conditions, forecasts, and wildland fire management activities.
Fire program management assistants and fire clerks
These positions support wildland fire managers and firefighters by working with budgets, processing time and travel documents, managing training records, and assisting with incident support and purchasing.