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Wildland Firefighter

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

  • Avg. Salary $55,292.00
  • Avg. Wage $31.92
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Medium
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) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

N/A
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Wildland Firefighter is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Silviculture and Forestry Workers
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

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 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 More

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2017

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

  • Rappel Crew (RAP) - These crews are trained to rappel out of a helicopter into areas where it is not possible to land, such as sloped landscape or tough-to-reach areas.
  • 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 wildfire along with air tankers.
  • Unit Crew (UNIT) - These 20-person crews contain and extinguish 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 contain and extinguish fires and put out hotspots (small fires that burn underground). 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 31, 2017

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 fire into an inferno. Some wildland firefighters also fly in helicopters and rappel from heights.

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.

  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Wildland firefighters need:

  • a safety-conscious attitude
  • an interest in working outdoors
  • good spatial perception and awareness of what is happening around them
  • communication skills
  • basic 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 31, 2017

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
  • a transportation of dangerous good permit
  • a radio operator’s licence.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2017

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2017

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 31, 2017

Rates of pay for certified wildland firefighters range from $21.08 to $25.95 an hour (2016 estimates).

Silviculture and forestry workers

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $22.00 $38.64 $26.90 $22.00
Overall $25.00 $49.91 $31.92 $25.00
Top $31.46 $49.91 $36.47 $32.00

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.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Public Administration
ALL INDUSTRIES

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 31, 2017

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 31, 2017. 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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