Being a wildland firefighter is a dangerous occupation. Still, many people feel a calling to join a fire crew. Firefighters face several hazards, including entrapment, smoke inhalation, and heat-related injuries. If you are considering a wildland firefighter position, it’s important to understand which survival skills firefighters need to know. Let’s take a look at some of those essential skills.
There’s no doubt you’ve got to be physically fit to withstand the demands of wildland firefighting. Fires don’t stop just so everyone can rest. You must be ready to push your limits, and not through the everyday terrain that you are used to. Thick forests, steep hills, and mountains are just a sample of what you may encounter as a wildland firefighter. Physical fitness is imperative to handle it all.
Sense of Direction
There’s a difference between walking through the woods for pleasure and purposely going in to smother flames engulfing the forest. Intense heat, thick brush, buildings, power lines, and smoke can lead to disorientation. Firefighters are trained to handle any situation and keep their sense of direction to avoid becoming turned around while fighting flames.
One of the most critical survival skills necessary as a wildland firefighter is mental stamina. Firefighters receive calls and must respond at a moment’s notice. It may be in the middle of the night or in the early morning. No matter when they receive a call, they must respond.
Fighting a fire for hours, watching structures crumble and forests disappear, and helping injured people is mentally draining. Firefighters must make split decisions for safety’s sake. Mental stamina is everything for wildland firefighting.
Another important survival skill for firefighters is to be knowledgeable of first aid. As a wildland firefighter, you never know when you might need to help yourself or someone else who is injured. Thankfully, firefighters learn first aid during training.
Be a Team Player
Wildland firefighters aren’t sent in one at a time so everyone can have their turn. It’s a team effort, and your team becomes your family. As you risk your lives together, you strengthen camaraderie. People who aren’t team players won’t fare well in this field.
Personal Protective Equipment
Firefighting PPE (personal protective equipment) is designed to aid survival. However, without understanding how to properly use it, the PPE is no good. Common types of PPE for wildland firefighting include a fire shelter to protect against the heat when the flames become uncomfortably close. Structural firefighters do not use fire shelters.
During training, wildland firefighters learn all there is to know about PPE and how the design of each piece helps them in their fight. The following is a list of PPE for wildland firefighters:
- Fire Shelter
- Shrouds and masks
Checking all PPE after returning to your station to ensure it’s in the best possible condition.
The Supply Cache has been serving the wildland firefighting industry since 1991. We are proud to offer PPE and other equipment to aid wildland firefighters. Contact us with all your questions and wildland firefighting needs.