This is a guide to becoming a wildland firefighter. In here, readers will learn about the arduous journey and sacrifices people must make to attain this career. Though it is a long road ahead, committed and conscientious people can make a great life for themselves as wildland firefighters.
Most state and federal employers require a combination of experience and post-secondary education to become a wildland firefighter. Firefighter hopefuls should pursue a bachelor’s degree in forestry or another related field. The forestry education covers range management, water conservation, resources management, environmental science, and other topics.
Wildland firefighters must go through a multi-step application process to get the job. They will need to complete their education, get a driver’s license, produce a resume, and pass a drug test before they are allowed to pursue the field any further.
For the next step in our guide to becoming a wildland firefighter, applicants who have been accepted must complete an on-the-job training program. These programs normally last a few weeks. However, applicants for federal agencies must also complete internships, which can take up to four years.
Wildland firefighters in national forests and parks must also pass a physical test. The test, which requires candidates to carry as much as 45 pounds of equipment for three miles within 45 minutes, is meant to test their strength and stamina.
Aside from a driver’s license, some wildland firefighters must also obtain a commercial driver’s license.
Lastly, there are a plethora of intangible skills and attributes that make for a strong firefighter. These include:
- Courage: Wildland firefighters are in danger every time they approach a flame. To get through the days, weeks, months, years, they must be braver than the average person.
- Decision making: Fires move quickly and erratically. Wildland firefighters must be able to change their priorities on a dime to keep up.
- Proficient in firefighting lingo: As with any career path, wildland firefighting is full of insider jargon. A wildland firefighter will learn these during training and even more so over time.
- Strength: Wildland firefighters utilize large, heavy equipment in physically-draining scenarios. They must have the strength to handle that much weight.
Hopefuls should use this guide to help them along their path. The world needs heroes, and there are few deeds more heroic than protecting people from fires.
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