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Wildland Firefighter

Wildland firefighters work in crews to suppress fires in remote locations.

Also Known As

Forest Fire Fighter

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Silviculture and Forestry Workers (8422) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Silviculture and Forestry Workers (I162) 
  • 2011 NOC: Silviculture and forestry workers (8422) 
  • 2016 NOC: Silviculture and forestry workers (8422) 
  • 2021 NOC: Silviculture and forestry workers (84111) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Silviculture and Forestry Workers

2006 NOC: 8422

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
OBJECTIVE

Interest in driving - operating skidders, bulldozers and other prime movers to pull scarification and site preparation equipment over areas to be regenerated; and in operating power thinning saws to thin and space trees in reforestation areas and chain saws to thin young forest stands

METHODICAL

Interest in copying information to control weeds and undergrowth using manual tools and chemicals; in performing silvicultural duties such as collecting seed cones, pruning trees and marking trees for subsequent operations; and in maintaining firefighting equipment

innovative

Interest in assisting in planting surveys; and in fighting forest fires under the direction of fire suppression officers and forestry technicians

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Mar 05, 2021

There are several different types of wildland firefighting crews in Alberta:

  • Helitack Crew (HAC) - These are first responders to the wildfire. They are usually transported to the scene by helicopter or by ground and are deployed to attack wildfires, sometimes with the assistance of air tankers or heavy equipment.
  • Unit Crew (UNIT) - These 20-person crews contain and extinguish larger fires in remote areas of the province. Often they ensure that underground fires are extinguished by digging up ground. Or they contain approaching fire by lighting fires around the wildfire to stop the spread
  • Firetrack Crew (FTAC) - Similar to unit crews, these firefighters are mainly used to contain and extinguish hotspots (small fires that burn underground) on larger wildfire incidents. Firetrack crews are typically deployed to large wildfires that require work over a long period of time (for example, 14 to 18 days)

Duties and responsibilities vary from one type of crew to another but, in general, wildland firefighters:

  • Identify parts of a fire, such as the head, flank, rear and anchor point
  • Identify escape routes and safety zones
  • Watch for threats to the control line and counter them
  • Check in and out at the beginning and end of each shift
  • Brief and debrief the crew leader
  • Identify hazards and make other firefighters aware of them
  • Systematically locate and extinguish hotspots in mop-up operations
  • Fell trees and dig trenches to construct firelines
  • Use and maintain hand tools and equipment safely and effectively
  • Rearrange or remove fuels near the fireline
  • Use drip torches or fuses to conduct burnout operations
  • Report conditions or activities that seem unsafe or counterproductive
  • Maintain communications with other crew members and leaders
  • Look out for the safety and welfare of crew members, including themselves
  • Report injuries and accidents

Crews may be flown into remote locations to fight fires that are difficult to reach by other means.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 05, 2021
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg

Wildland firefighters work outdoors in all weather conditions, usually in isolated areas. Their work is dangerous and physically demanding. Occupational hazards include smoke, intense heat, falling trees and branches, wildlife and strong winds. Wind can quickly turn a small wildfire into a large, more complex wildfire.

Wildland firefighters are required to bend, stoop and crouch while wearing protective gear and carrying heavy equipment. They also must work quickly on steep and uneven terrain. They carry and use equipment such as hand tools, chain saws, water pumps and hoses, often for long periods.

Wildland firefighters may be required to work up to 24-day shifts and may be relocated anywhere in the province as needed.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 05, 2021

Wildland firefighters need:

  • A safety-conscious attitude
  • An interest in working outdoors
  • Spatial perception and awareness of what is happening around them
  • Communication skills
  • Analytical skills
  • The ability to work effectively with a team under stressful conditions
  • The ability to react quickly to the unexpected

All candidates for wildland firefighter must maintain good health and physical fitness. For example, they must have the strength and agility to climb and balance when moving over rough terrain.

They should enjoy having routine, organized work punctuated by periods of intense activity, and technical activities such as operating 2-way radios and meteorological instruments.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 05, 2021
  • Minimum Education Varies

In Alberta, wildland firefighters must successfully complete a training program at the Hinton Training Centre. For information about training and employment, see the Government of Alberta website.

Candidates will undergo medical screening and physical testing to ensure their health and physical fitness for the job.

The following qualifications are assets when seeking employment as a wildland firefighter:

  • A high school diploma or equivalent
  • Experience in logging or as a forestry labourer
  • A standard first aid certificate with CPR
  • A chain saw certificate
  • A defensive driving certificate (with 7 demerits or less)
  • A transportation of dangerous good permit
  • A radio operator’s licence

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 05, 2021
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 05, 2021

Wildland firefighters are employed by Government of Alberta and contractors. Most are employed on a seasonal basis from April through late October.

The province of Alberta maintains a complement of about 3,000 certified firefighters. Many move on to full-time work in other fields, so employment turnover is high in this occupation.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 05, 2021

Rates of pay for certified wildland firefighters range from $21.83 to $26.87 an hour (Source: Government of Alberta, 2021 estimates).

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Silviculture and forestry workers

2016 NOC: 8422
Average Wage
$39.57
Per Hour
Average Salary
$71,495.00
Per Year
Average Hours
36.3
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
11.2
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 8422 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $21.83 $38.88 $31.96 $29.96
Overall $23.52 $50.22 $39.57 $39.95
Top $26.87 $50.22 $41.11 $43.47

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

ALL INDUSTRIES
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
N/A
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
N/A
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
N/A
Vacancy Rate
N/A
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Social, Community and Protective Services
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 05, 2021

Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre website: www.ciffc.ca

Canadian Wildland Fire Information System website: cwfis.cfs.nrcan.gc.ca

Government of Alberta website, wildfire information and recruitment: wildfire.alberta.ca

International Association of Wildland Fire website: www.iawfonline.org

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 05, 2021. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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