Become a Wildland Firefighter Do you enjoy working in the outdoors? Wildland firefighting is very rewarding work that provides many career opportunities.
What Does a Wildland Firefighter Do?
For those who crave diversity in the workplace, wildland firefighting may be for you. BLM Wyoming wildland firefighters are rarely assigned the exact same task every day and they are constantly getting new experience. Wildland firefighting is a very diverse profession and provides a wide array of job experience. Firefighters learn how to run firefighting equipment, such as chainsaws, wildland fire engines, water pumps and other mechanized tools. They also learn how to read the weather and record it, efficiently dig fire line, safely cut down trees, drive large fire engines and conduct safety briefings and drills, among many other other useful skills.
Wildland firefighters also spend the majority of their time in the outdoors. Wildfires will burn anywhere that fuel is present, so firefighters are often sent to very remote areas of Wyoming and throughout the United States. Firefighters may end up extinguishing a fire on top of a mountain or they may end up saving homes from flames near a city or community. Firefighters also help with natural disasters, such as flooding. During Hurricane Katrina, wildland firefighters went to help those in need.
Wildland fire engine crew members are trained to fight wildland fires using fire engines. Wyoming BLM mostly uses what are called Type VI or Light wildland fire engines to suppress rangeland fires. They can hold anywhere from 150 to 400 gallons of water. Engine crewmembers learn how to utilize water in fire suppression, lay hose, utilize chain saws, conduct prescribed burning, and drive wildland fire engines, amongst many other skills.
BLM helicopter crews are assigned to helicopters. When they receive a fire call, they quickly board the helicopter, fly to the wildland fire incident, and utilize the helicopter and its water bucket/water dropping mechanisms in fire suppression. Helicopter crews learn how to dig fireline, conduct helicopter bucket drops, guide helicopter pilots into landing situations, utilize chainsaws, and load fire crews onto helicopters.
Each Wyoming BLM district has a dispatch center. These centers serve as communication hubs for each district; they help disperse fire crews to each fire incident and they maintain communication between firefighters, management, and other agencies, such as city fire departments. Dispatch centers also track where each fire crew is located, as well as statistics involving wildland fires. Wildland fire dispatch personnel gain valuable experience in communication methods, data collection, and map reading, amongst other valuable skills.
Fuels crews are in charge of implementing the various vegetation treatments associated with the fire program, the Healthy Forests Act and improving community safety from wildfire. Fuels crews study BLM lands to determine their health and implement treatment projects such as prescribed burns to minimize fire potential on a variety of habitats and communities. Fuels crew personnel are often involved in a wide variety of tasks and get to see some of the most beautiful, remote and rugged areas of Wyoming.
For those who choose to pursue a career in fire and fuels management, there are diverse options available. Many firefighters obtain college degrees and then move on to careers in fire management, fuels, public affairs, biology, botany or rangeland ecology, to name a few.
Some college students become seasonal firefighters during the summer months and return to college in the fall. Firefighters can also apply for the Student Career Employment Program or the Student Temporary Employment Program. These BLM programs allow students to gain valuable knowledge and skills while working for the BLM. They also provide flexible work hours for college students.
How to Apply
Typically, seasonal hiring is done mid-winter (January – March) based on applications received prior to the hiring season. Online applications for seasonal and career fire positions can be completed through http://www.usajobs.gov/