Crew group photo in front of a lake.

North Star Fire Crew

Located in the heart of the Alaska Interior, the North Star Fire Crew is an entry level training crew that provides a pathway to become an Alaska Fire Service hotshot.

 As a training crew, the program accepts applicants with little to no fire experience, provides red card certification in its first two weeks of critical training and in the course of a three month season, teaches crew members the fundamental skills of wildfire suppression.

This crew, although classified as a Type 2 Crew, is trained and equipped to Interagency Hotshot Crew standards. To facilitate that goal, overhead positions on the crew are filled by current Alaska Fire Service hotshots with three to five years of fire experience.

Whether you are interested in seasonal work only (compatible with a college schedule), desire summer adventure in the Alaska wilderness, or seek to pursue a career in wildland fire, the North Star crew provides the opportunity to get your foot in the door. 

The North Star Fire Crew is organized as follows:

  • One Crew Boss
  • Two to Three Squad Bosses
  • One Saw Boss
  • 16-18 Crew Members

Objectives of the North Star Fire Crew

The North Star Fire Crew is designed to achieve the following goals:

  • Provide an experienced pool of potential recruits for the Alaska Fire Service Type I Interagency Hotshot Crews.
  • Provide entry level positions into the Alaska Fire Service for individuals with limited or no fire experience.
  • Provide the Alaska Fire Service with an additional quick response hand crew.
  • Provide Alaska natural resource agencies a low cost, labor intensive crew for project work

Nature of North Star Crew Work

Firefighter walking along saw line with other firefighters working in back of him.
A North Star Crew firefighter walks along a saw line the crew constructed to protect the village of Venetie from a nearby fire in 2021.

Nature of North Star Crew Work

The work is of a hard, physical nature. Most work will be outdoors in conditions of heat, cold, wet, wind, dust and smoke. While in the field, housing may consist of a tent and meals may be field rations. Crew Members can expect to be living under primitive field conditions for weeks at a time.  When crews are not on fire assignment and in volunteer status, work will consist of a variety of conservation and resource enhancement projects such as trail construction and rehabilitation, pre-commercial thinning, slash disposal, and building maintenance or construction. While on project work, work hours may be up to 16 hours per day, 7 days a week.

Crew members must be able to work the entire season (mid-May through mid-August) and will be expected to be ready and available for fire calls 24 hrs/day, 7 days/week.  A full season on the North Star Fire Crew will count as experience towards qualifying as a regular seasonal employee of AFS or other agencies.

Preparations

Preparations

Transportation from home to Fairbanks and return to home must be provided by crew members. Transportation from Fairbanks to work sites and return to Fairbanks will be provided by the agency.

All firefighting gear and equipment will be provided.  Crew members will be expected to provide their own personal clothing. The minimum clothing items required are listed below:

  • 8 inch top (minimum), lace-up, all-leather boots with Vibram soles (no nylon/ Gore-Tex uppers or steel toes)
  • Rain gear
  • Warm jacket
  • Space blanket (heavy duty type)
  • Pants
  • Shirts
  • Extra socks (4-10 pr. cotton or wool work socks)
  • Extra underwear
  • Running shoes
  • Physical training clothing
  • Knit cap
  • Watch

Applicants should also familiarize themselves with Fire Duty in Alaska.

Training and Fitness Standards

Training and Fitness Standards

Training Upon Arrival

An initial two week training session will commence approximately a week prior to Memorial Day each season at the AFS facilities on Fort Wainwright. A pool of candidates (approximately 28) will be instructed in basic firefighting skills and techniques; use and maintenance of chain saws, hand tools, and portable pumps; basic air operations; and safety. Throughout this training period Physical Training will occur daily. Upon completion of the initial training a performance based selection will identify the 16-18 regular crew members. The remaining candidates will be utilized as alternates to facilitate crew needs.

BLM Fire and Aviation Fitness Challenge

On the first day of training the North Star Fire Crew candidates will take the physical training test. The North Star physical training test conforms to the BLM Fire and Aviation Fitness Challenge standards.

The BLM Fire Operations Fitness Challenge provides a common system by which BLM firefighters can measure current fitness, establish fitness goals, track fitness improvement, and receive recognition for their efforts. The fitness challenge encourages and recognizes achievement in physical fitness by BLM firefighters. The fitness challenge is voluntary, but BLM firefighters are encouraged to participate.

The BLM Fire Operations Fitness Challenge tests participants in four basic exercises: push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and a timed run of either 1.5 or 3.0 miles. Test results are compiled into a final overall score.  The BLM Fire and Aviation Division of Fire Operations will recognize high achievers annually.  The Hotshot and North Star crews strive for the gold standard (300 total points for the 4 exercises). The North Star Fire Crew will run the 1.5 mile run for the P.T. test.

The pack test (45lb pack for 3 miles in less than 45 Minutes) will also be administered on the first day of training. Passing this test is a mandatory condition of hire.
 

Physical Training Schedule

When not on fire assignment, crew members are required to participate in an organized daily physical training program (about an hour each day). The following is a sample daily Physical Training Schedule:

  • 5 minutes of free stretching
  • 3 sets of 50 push-ups
  • 3 sets of 30 Flutter Kicks
  • 3 sets of  7 pull-ups or 1-6 pyramid pull-ups
  • 3 sets of 7 bar-dips or 1-6 pyramid bar-dips
  • 2 sets of 100 sit-ups
  • 3 sets of dollies
  • 100 abdominal crunches or bicycles
  • 3.0-7.0 mile run (7-8 minute per mile pace) or 1 hour long hike (minimum 15 minutes per mile pace)

 

Medical and 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.  

Understanding Volunteer Status

Smiling firefighter sitting on the tundra map in a forest.
It's a fun, dirty job that gives people a chance to get their foot in the door and help decide if wildland firefighting is for them.

Understanding Volunteer Status

Crew members will be trained and utilized as wildland firefighters. While on fires, crew members will be paid AD-C Emergency Firefighter wages (approximately $18.00 per hour). When not on fires, project work will be performed on a volunteer/non-paid basis. Throughout the fire season time spent on wildfire will vary according to each particular season. Time on fires can range from two to eleven weeks. The amount of paid/fire time is not guaranteed.
 
Housing and meals will be provided at no cost to crew members from commencement until the crew is disbanded. While in Fairbanks, housing will be in barracks rooms and meals will be in the BLM Dining Hall. While in the field, housing will consist of a tent, meals will be field rations. Crew members can expect to be living under primitive field conditions for weeks at time.

Point of Contact

Ben Ferguson
(907)356-5665
bferguson@blm.gov

How to Apply

The North Star program is looking for motivated individuals with a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn.

Fire experience is not required to be considered for the North Star Fire Crew and red card certification is provided during the first two weeks of training.

Application review begins in Mid-February.

Who may apply? Any person who is a US citizen (or holds a green card) and is 18 years of age or older by commencement.
When to apply? Applications must be postmarked no later than April 1st each season
How to apply? Applications may be emailed to: blm_ak_afs_northstar_crew@blm.gov