AFS Fire Specialists

The AFS Branch of Fire Operations maintains a pool of fire specialists stationed at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks. Fire Specialists primarily respond to extended attack fires within Alaska, and during high fire activity initial attack fires. Typical fire assignments include: Firefighter, Strike Team Leader, Task Force Leader, Division Supervisor, Air Operations, Crew Representative, and Incident Commander. Some Fire Specialists fulfill positions on Type 1, 2, and 3 Teams. Fire Specialists are the primary pool of personnel available to support the AFS Fire Management Zones and cooperators in suppression, aviation, and prescribed fire activities.

The Alaska field season typically runs from April to September with assignments to the Lower 48 likely as fire danger here moderates typically in mid-July. We also provide training developers and instructors in prescribed fire, fire operations and aviation management, as well as managing the emergency fire fighter (EFF) Helicopter Crewmember Program.

While not on fire assignment, Fire Specialists may perform project work such as: Prescribed fire, fireline equipment development, aviation mission planning, training coordination and support, and instructing fire and aviation courses.

Housing and Food
Housing is available at the BLM AFS barracks while stationed at Fort Wainwright. The barracks are set up as single rooms with shared bathrooms and are supplied with bedding and towels. Meals are available at the dining hall. Housing at field stations will range from elaborate to rustic. All field stations have a mess hall, but you may be required to do your own cooking at some of them. 

Training

Training We Offer

Due to the multi-faceted aspect of the Fire Specialist Section, extensive classroom and on the job training is conducted prior to the active fire season. Fire Specialists are proactive in preparing individuals for a variety of fire and aviation management positions through quality experience and training. An average first-year Fire Specialist attends four to six weeks of training including the FSS training and “S” and “I” courses.  Individuals who are Crew Boss or Helicopter Boss qualified are at an ideal level of experience for entry-level Fire Specialist positions. FSS Training is an intensive two-week course taught by more than a dozen instructors. FSS Training offers the following courses:

  • Alaska Orientation
  • Alaska Staging Areas
  • AK Field Conditions
  • Type 3 Incident Management
  • Alaska Fuels and Fire Behavior
  • Navigation
  • Helicopter Operations
  • Communication  Systems
  • Detection and Surveillance
  • 8 hr Interactive Fire Management Simulation

Fire Specialists begin work around the middle of March. Depending on training needs, this date may be earlier. Alaska Fire Service maintains an ambitious fire and aviation training schedule. An Interagency Training Center is located on the AFS campus. To see the current training schedule, visit Fire Training.

Physical Fitness
Fire Specialists are required to participate in a daily physical training program. Additionally, candidates will be encouraged to participate in the  BLM National Fire Operations Fitness Challenge.

Fitness

Physical Fitness Requirements

Fire Specialists are required to participate in a daily physical training program. All candidates will be required to complete the Work Capacity Test at the Arduous level, which consists of a three mile hike with a 45 pound pack in 45 minutes or less. All Fire Specialist are highly encouraged to participate in the BLM National Fire Operations Fitness Challenge.

MEDICAL STANDARDS PROGRAM
The Alaska Fire Service participates in the DOI Medical Standards Program requiring medical exams every three years.  For more information please see the Medical Standards Program.

 

Recruitment

The Fire Specialist Section is looking for individuals who are ready to step up and take on one of the most unique and challenging jobs within the wildland fire community. A Fire Specialist must be adaptable, reliable, and motivated in a wide variety of ever changing situations.

Individuals who are Crew Boss or Helicopter Boss qualified are at an ideal level of experience for entry-level Fire Specialist Positions.

How to apply: The Fire Specialists usually hire two to four positions annually. Announcements will be advertised on USA Jobs website, please call for annual hiring plans.

Additional inquiries can be e-mailed to Acting Fire Specialist Chief Cody Nelson: cnelson@blm.gov or phone 907-356-5668

Detailer Program

Fire Specialists Section (FSS) details provide fire managers an opportunity to develop their employees with quality fire and aviation training and experience.

The FSS solicite for candidates for a twelve-week detail from typically the third week of April through Mid July.

The FSS, provides a primary pool of personnel experienced in fire suppression, prescribed fire and aviation management operations for use in Alaska and the Lower 48. During the twelve-week detail to the FSS, a typical candidate will receive two weeks of FSS Training before they are made available for assignments. FSS Training is an intensive two-week course covering a variety of subjects that are applied in sand table exercises and simulations.

After training, Fire Specialists are dispatched statewide. Resource orders are filled by the Fire Operations Duty Office. Personnel are dispatched by position on the up-list, qualifications, and training needs. Assignments may take candidates to remote Alaska or to roadside urban interface in a variety of roles.

All detail candidates are expected to have passed their pack test and have a red card issued prior to arrival. Candidates will be expected to participate in daily PT and are highly encouraged to participate in our session of the BLM National Fire Operations Fitness Challenge. Candidates will be ordered on a name suggested Resource Order with a "detail request" form attached. No personnel action is necessary. The sending unit is expected to provide base salary, line gear, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and a programmable radio. AFS will provide travel and subsist the candidate in lieu of per diem at our barracks and dining facility. For candidates outside of the BLM, a reimbursable agreement will have to be arranged with the sending unit.

Home unit supervisor approval is required prior to submitting an application. Candidates and supervisors should be aware that this is a detail rather than a fire assignment. Typically Fire Operations is very busy, however weather patterns and conditions change rapidly and there may be lulls. Our detail program is intended to augment our base numbers for the Alaska season. This arrangement may be reciprocated as the fire season in Alaska nears an end. If mutually agreed, details may be extended or reduced in duration. To apply submit an application, a resume and a copy of your current IQCS master record.

FSS Detailer Application Form - To apply: fill out, then email or fax the completed form to Acting Chief Fire Specialist Cody Nelson at cnelson@blm.gov  phone 907-356-5668 or Fax: (907) 356-5560.

Heli Crewmember Program

The program is designed to allow Emergency Fire Firefighters from the Alaska Fire Service zones to expand their firefighting qualifications and enter into fire aviation roles. The basis for this entry is Helicopter Crewmember or HECM qualification.

The Program

This training opportunity is conducted every year and takes EFF firefighters with one season of fire experience and gives them education, training, and experience to obtain the qualification of Helicopter Crewmember (HECM), with the possibility of other qualifications such as Aircraft Base Radio Operator (ABRO), Take Off and Landing Coordinator (TOLC) and Deck Coordinator (DECK). After the classroom and field training is complete, the individuals continue their aviation career path by going out on fire assignments and completing a Position Task Book (PTB), and do so through their respective Fire Management Zones.

The Training

The training lasts approximately 10 days where the training is split between the National Wildfire Coordinating Group approved course, Basic Helicopter Crewmember class (S-271), Department of Interior and Bureau of Land Management mandatory refresher training and various field exercises. The field exercises will consist of programmable radio operations, land navigation, basic logistical organization, and other scenarios.

The Experience

The individuals will need to be available for fire assignments in order to obtain the experience necessary to complete the Position Task Book for HECM. Assignments can be either within the state of Alaska or on L48 assignments.

Contacts

To be considered for the program contact the BLM/AFS Zone representative for the village you live in.

Point of Contact

Fire Specialist Section Chief
907-356-5668