What It Takes to Become a Wildland Firefighter

Amanda Delatorre |

What It Takes to Become a Wildland Firefighter

To ensure that a wildland firefighter recruit meets the physical and mental demands of the profession and that they are fit for the job, they must first fulfill a certain set of educational and physical requirements. The requirements for becoming a wildland firefighter will vary depending on the exact branch of wildland firefighting that you wish to pursue and the wildland firefighting agency where you apply. This is what it takes to become a wildland firefighter.

Education requirements of becoming a wildland firefighter

The minimum educational requirements for becoming a wildland firefighter typically include passing the GED test or completing high school education. In addition, wildland firefighters must pass a written test that typically consists of around 100 questions pertaining to the essential skills of wildland firefighting, such as mechanical reasoning and spatial awareness. Aspiring wildland firefighters are also often required to receive certifications as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT).

While you may be able to walk-on to a department or volunteer fire department, you’ll still need to take introductory courses S-130 and S-190. S-130 refers to Firefighter Training and S-190 refers to Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior. These courses are outlined by the NWCG, or the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. Successful completion of these courses followed by the arduous pack test will earn you a title of FFT-2, the foundation for which all higher roles are built on in the Incident Command System (ICS.) This is the beginning of your wildland fire career and the prerequisite for becoming an FFT-1.

While not typically required, obtaining additional education such as an associate degree or higher in fire science may further increase one’s chances of becoming a wildland firefighter. Most fire science programs will incorporate wildland firefighting into their curriculum and may allow students to obtain hands-on training in the field in addition to classroom-based learning.

Enrolling in emergency medical technician (EMT) courses may also be beneficial in helping aspiring wildland firefighters land the job. For more specific branches of wildland firefighting, more advanced educational requirements may be in place.

Physical requirements of becoming a wildland firefighter

To keep up with the rigorous physical demands of wildland firefighting, applicants must meet several fitness requirements. To get the job, all federal agencies require wildland firefighters to pass the Work Capacity Test, also known as the “pack” test. This physical test helps determine if the applicant has what it takes to become a wildland firefighter by judging their muscular strength and aerobic endurance.

After passing the initial fitness tests, wildland firefighters must then undergo extensive pre-season fitness training. Then, they must engage in continued training programs provided by national firefighting organizations such as the National Wildfire Coordinating Group to keep up their strength and fitness levels. Such training will mimic the working conditions of wildland firefighting and will likely include cardio training while carrying weighted packs, as well as strength training.

After becoming a wildland firefighter, you’ll need to acquire some essential gear. At The Supply Cache, we recognize the large role that high-quality gear plays in protecting wildland firefighters and ensuring they can carry out their time-sensitive duties efficiently and effectively. As such, we’ve taken great care to develop a wide selection of top-of-the-line wildland firefighter gear such as wildland firefighter tools, custom boots, packs, and helmets. For more information regarding our products, contact us today.