The Wildland Firefighter
Wildland firefighters are tasked with combating wildfires and preventing future fires from starting. While some wildland firefighters work year-round and some work only during the fire season, the work is always strenuous and positions are always highly competitive.
Becoming a Wildland Firefighter
Step One: The first step to becoming a wildland firefighter is to locate a sponsor so you may obtain basic training. Possible sources include local fire departments, fire protection districts, or counties. State and federal agencies may provide wildland firefighting opportunities, but seldom hire or train individuals with no prior experience.
Step Two: Next, you must earn your “Red Card” or Interagency Incident Qualification Card by completing the National Wildfire Coordinating Group Basic Firefighter course (S-130) and the Introduction to Fire Behavior course (S-190). In addition to classroom and field training, you also must pass a strenuous physical work-capacity test to prove that you are able to perform physically arduous tasks in the field.
Step Three: Once you have received your Red Card, your sponsoring agency may list you as an available resource with the agency or fire department. This means you may be dispatched to wildfires as they occur and as the department or agency needs your assistance. You also may continue as a volunteer or on-call firefighter while maintaining another job, or you may decide to compete for a full-time position. Please visit the National Wildfire Coordinating Group website for more information about becoming a firefighter.