One of the more visible careers within the forestry community is wildland firefighting. Patricia Stockett, a wildland firefighter for the Georgia Forestry Commission, recently contributed to SGSF's "People of Forestry" video series to tell us all the things she loves about her job.
"Our jobs are dangerous as well as rewarding," says Pat. "I love protecting the people, those in my squad, the forests, and the animals."
So what does a wildland firefighter do, aside from the obvious? It varies slightly from state to state, but here are a few of the basics:
- Operate two- to five-ton trucks and medium to heavy crawler tractors in the suppression of wildfires;
- Prepare reports, including measuring and computing acreage;
- Assist landowners with control burns and plow pre-suppression fire breaks;
- Perform preventative maintenance and small repairs to fire suppression equipment.
This brings us to qualifications. What training and education do you need to become a wildland firefighter? You'll usually need a high school diploma or GED, a valid driver’s license, some experience operating heavy equipment, and be able to pass an entrance exam. Again, these qualifications may vary somewhat from state to state, but most will fall somewhere within this standard.
Wildland firefighters frequently say they enjoy the outdoors and the pace of the job. Add to that a desire to make a difference, and to truly help people, and you have a great wildland firefighter! If you're interested in exploring a career as a wildland firefighter, contact your state forestry agency to learn more about available jobs in your area.