Over the last two decades we have seen an increase in wildland fires not only in the United States but across the world. Notably, 2020 was a devastating year for Australia especially with wildfires consuming nearly 44.5 million acres of land which produced enough smoke to spread across the continent, oceans, and all over the world. Here in the US we have been dealing with warmer springs and dryer summers creating a perfect storm for wildfire conditions resulting in a fire season lasting 78 days longer on average than in 1980 according to an article from the National Wildlife Federation.
What does this mean for the future of wildland firefighting?
Just as the residential firefighter position has changed with new challenges in building construction, so is the Wildland Firefighter position growing with increased fire problems. Now more than ever are well trained firefighters needed to help solve this issue which means that more jobs are opening for those eager to work hard and to get their foot in the door of the fire service.
What makes this a good option for getting people into the fire service?
The fire service is built on many aspects of teamwork, work ethic, and dedication. As a Wildland Firefighter, you are immersed in that culture of fire service professionals determined to put hands on tools and extinguish the fire problem. That experience is not found in many other jobs and provides you the foundation of what Fire Departments are looking for in their new hires. From working long hours through the night, to hand digging fire line shows a great amount of grit in the face of harsh conditions.
How do I get started in becoming a wildland firefighter?
1. Talk to someone in the wildland fire service
Getting a first-hand experience from someone that is a wildland firefighter or involved in the wildland fire service is very important. Why? Because you will be able to get a good feel as to what the job is like but also feel the heart that comes with being on a team of awesome people.
There are several ways to get your Incident Qualification certificates if you are a part of a department (full-time/part-time/volunteer) or even as an independent. You do not have to be associated with a department to earn the classes needed for Red Card certification! Some departments have a Wildland Team and will send their firefighters to get the certification but independent students can also take the class as well through Fire Tech Academy. The other stipulation is that you must be at least 18 years old to take this course which fits well for high school seniors looking for a great summer job and a foot in the door of the fire service.
3. Apply to a Wildland Firefighting team (private or public)
After obtaining your Incident Qualification certifications you then can apply to private or public wildland firefighting jobs. Examples of public job opportunities include Department of Natural Resources, US Forestry, or any state fire department. Private wildland firefighting companies are another option that are becoming more popular. These follow a similar hiring process as the public sector but they typically are hiring year-round to fill firefighter spots depending on where you are located.
With the increased fire problem all around us here in Washington State so is the increased need for well trained, eager people to join the wildland firefighting team. Take your first steps towards helping keep our communities and wildland safe by taking your Red Card certification with Fire Tech Academy. You’ll be amazed by what you will learn and how much you will grow in the fire service in such a short amount of time. Be safe out there!