Fires happen in the wilderness. Sometimes they are good because they give the forest a fresh start, but other times they leap out of control and threaten surrounding communities. That is when fire fighters become super heroes in the eyes of citizens everywhere.
Seasonal forest fire fighters are hard workers, but often bored. When there are no fires, there is nothing to do. Fire fighters come in three types: forestry technicians, hotshot crews, and smokejumpers. The US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are the biggest employers of fire fighters.
Forestry technicians work in specific national forests doing lots of tasks including research and manning fire watch stations.
They are employed all season long, regardless of fire danger. When fires do occur in their neck of the woods, they are on the front lines.
Hotshot crews and smokejumpers travel the country each summer fighting fires. They are well-trained fire fighting machines. They may fly in helicopters and planes to remote regions of the forests to dig trenches and fight fires. They may parachute down into the heat of the fire to help suppress it. They are heroes in everyone’s eyes.
Forest fire management has developed over the years. The Forest Service has crews on standby at all times especially during the summer months. They have a fleet of fire fighting tanker planes ready to drop fire retardant, they have established an aggressive communication system starting at fire watch towers scattered across the wilderness, heavy machinery is ready, plans are already drawn up and ready to implement, and the fire fighters are ready to fight blazes that can quickly get out of control. Fire management is very progressive and the Forest Service has the world’s largest wildfire suppression system.
Fires can start at a moments notice, especially during the dry summer. A 4th of July BBQ or a cigarette butt carelessly tossed out the window can result in devastating wildfires. Then when the wind, weather, location, and water supply play a factor, a small fire can quickly turn into a smoky mess that can even be seen from outer space.
If you’re interested in helping fight fires, you’ll most likely be able to. The jobs fill quickly and you’ll face some competition for every spot. If you just keep asking around and applying, you’ll be on a fire crew in no time. Be persistent. The season usually lasts from May to October.
When you can use your skills to face danger and help defeat a menacing fire you’ll feel like a super hero. And that’s a pretty good feeling.