Duties and responsibilities
A wildland firefighter has the incredibly important job of working on the front line to combat wildfires. In the United States, wildfires have become increasingly larger and increasingly more extreme. These fires put communities, habitats and watersheds at risk and wildland firefighters are needed to minimize this risk. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Responding to wildland fires by driving fire apparatus to the scene
- Helping to clear fallen trees
- Analyzing fire weather and topographical data and then predicting fire behavior
- Recording and documenting pertinent information related to the emergency incident
- Interacting with other agencies in a professional and cooperative manner
- Performing under emergency conditions which may require strenuous exertion in the face of such handicaps as: smoke, high temperatures and steep terrain
- Inspecting and cleaning apparatus and equipment after use
- Participates in frequent training sessions to maintain basic wildland firefighting skills
To become a Wildland firefighter, you will need a high school diploma or equivalent. You will also need to pass written and physical tests and train to be an emergency medical technician (EMT). After this, you will complete an apprenticeship programs that last up to 4 years. These programs combine instruction with on-the-job-training under the supervision of experienced firefighters.
Skills and relevant work experience
Wildland firefighters will need skills such as:
- Empathy, as firefighters will help distressed people who are in a great deal of pain and will need to be understanding
- Bravery, as everyday firefighters will face dangerous and potentially life threatening situations
- Physical strength and stamina, as firefighters will need to cary equipment, cary victims and move debris. They will be on their feet for long periods of time and must be fit and strong
- Teamwork skills as firefighters will works as part of a small
- Decision making skills, as firefighters are responsible for making on the spot decisions that could save the lives of many
- Flexibility and adaptability, as firefighters must be able to sleep anywhere, do different jobs under different circumstances, find a way to change with their environment and overcome various situations
Wildland firefighters will typically work long periods and varied hours. They may work 24-hour shifts on duty and are off the following 48 or 72 hours. When combating forest and wildland fires, firefighters may work for extended periods and be expected to stayx for days or weeks when a wildland fire breaks out.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for firefighters in the United States was $50,850 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,550 per year, and the highest 10 percent earning more than $92,020 per year.
With more experience, education and training, firefighters can progress to become engineers, lieutenants, captains, battalion chief, assistant chief, deputy chief and, finally, chief. Typically, they will be required to have a bachelors degree in fire science, public administration or a related field.