Becoming a Wildland Firefighter
To become a seasonal firefighter, you must apply to the agency that interests you. Every agency has its own process for hiring seasonal employees. You may want to consider applying to more than one agency.
Steps to Becoming a Wildland Firefighter
Entry level wildland firefighter positions are extremely competitive. Most full-time temporary positions are filled by individuals who already have acquired training and experience through volunteer or part-time positions.
To increase your opportunities to become a seasonal firefighter, we recommend that you apply to multiple agencies. Every agency has its own process for hiring seasonal employees. You also might want to consider applying at several locations around the country. Many times your best opportunity to obtain an entry-level position may be at a location or with an agency that is not your first choice.
To meet the minimum wildland firefighter requirements, you must be at least 18 years of age and in good physical condition. If you meet these basic requirements, you can work on the following steps to become a wildland firefighter.
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 such as the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention & Control, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management also may provide wildland firefighting opportunities, but seldom hire or train individuals with no prior experience.
Once you have located a fire department or agency that will sponsor or accept you as a trainee, you may proceed to 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.
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 seasonal firefighter or a full-time firefighter.