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Wildland Firefighter

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

  • Avg. Salary $60,749.00
  • Avg. Wage $34.90
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
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) 
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 Apr 14, 2016

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

  • Type 1 Helitack Rappel - specialised crews based in Edmonton that provide initial attack and support where they are needed. They may rappel from helicopters to get to otherwise inaccessible locations. (Helitack is an abbreviation for helicopter attack.)
  • Type 1 Helitack - mobile, highly trained initial attack and support crews that are usually based in Alberta Environment and Parks Areas. They use both ground and helicopter transportation to get to where they are needed. 
  • Type 1 Firetack - intermediate level firefighting crews that often include post-secondary students and people associated with First Nations Aboriginal communities, Metis settlements and communities. They are employed by contractors to suppress spreading fires that require the efforts of many units.
  • Type 2 Wildfire - eight person crews that usually are involved in mopping up to contain or extinguish hot spots after a fire is under control. They also provide support where needed.

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

  • identify parts of a fire (for example, head, flank, rear, anchor point), 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, and brief and debrief the crew leader
  • identify hazards and make other firefighters aware of them
  • systematically locate and extinguish hot spots 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 Apr 14, 2016

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 that can quickly turn a small fire into an inferno.

Wildland firefighters are required to bend, stoop and crouch while wearing protective gear and carrying heavy equipment, and to 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 of time. 

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 Apr 14, 2016

Wildland firefighters need the following characteristics:

  • a safety conscious attitude
  • excellent health and physical fitness
  • the physical strength and agility required to climb and balance when moving over rough terrain
  • good spatial perception and awareness of what is happening around them
  • good communication skills
  • basic analytical skills
  • an interest in working outdoors
  • the ability to work effectively with a team under stressful conditions
  • the ability to react quickly to the unexpected.

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

Educational Requirements
Updated Apr 14, 2016

In Alberta, wildland firefighters must successfully complete a training program approved by Alberta Environment and Parks. For information about training and employment, see Alberta Environment and Parks website.

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

  • experience as a logging or forestry labourer
  • chain saw certificate
  • defensive driving certificate
  • transportation of dangerous good permit 
  • 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 Apr 14, 2016

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Apr 14, 2016

Wildland firefighters are employed by Alberta Environment and Parks and contractors. Most are employed on a seasonal basis from early April through late August.

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 Apr 14, 2016

Rates of pay for certified wildland firefighters range from $19.44 to $23.93 an hour (2010 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 $18.00 $38.64 $28.38 $29.78
Overall $25.00 $49.91 $34.90 $34.46
Top $28.14 $49.91 $39.06 $37.86

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 High School Subjects
  • Natural Resources
    • Environmental Stewardship
    • Forestry
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Social, Community and Protective Services
Other Sources of Information
Updated Apr 14, 2016

Alberta Environment and Parks webpage: www.aep.alberta.ca

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

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

Hinton Training Centre website: aep.alberta.ca/about-us/training/hinton-training-centre.aspx

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

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Feb 01, 2013. 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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