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Community Advocacy Organization

What It Takes To Become a Wildland Firefighter

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

What It Takes To Become a Wildland Firefighter

Wildland firefighters suppress, manage, and control wildfires. They are in high demand and needed to protect our communities, forests, and natural resources. It’s not an easy job, and if you consider becoming a wildland firefighter, it’s nothing to take lightly. If you have ever wondered if you have what it takes to become a wildland firefighter, learn what you must have and endure to earn this badge of honor.

The Firefighting Lifestyle

The wildland firefighting lifestyle takes some time to get used to. The season is only about six months out of the year, when forest fires are more likely to happen. During those six months, you must be on call at all times. There isn’t a firehouse where you have shifts like a structural firefighter. Instead, when a fire breaks out, you’ll receive a call and must go, even in the middle of the night.

Train for Endurance

Wildland firefighters must endure hours, even days, of walking and navigating tough terrain as they control wildfires. Their PPE and the extra gear they carry add a lot of weight. Items such as the NFPA-required wildland firefighting helmets are essential and, although constantly improving, still add bulk and weight as firefighters do their job. Boots, fire shelters, axes, radios, and other equipment all add to the load that goes wherever the firefighter goes. If you want to be a wildland firefighter, focus on training for strength, endurance, and stamina.

Basic Requirements

Requirements vary by region. The necessities to be a wildland firefighter in the US are as follows:

  • High school diploma or GED

  • US citizen

  • At least 18 years of age

  • Valid driver’s license

  • No criminal background

Candidates must pass an array of written and physical tests as well as drug tests to enter the wildland firefighting industry.

If you think you have what it takes to become a wildland firefighter, start by focusing on cardiovascular and weight training to build your strength. Then, consider being a local volunteer firefighter to gain experience before applying for a wildland firefighting position.

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