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How to Become a Firefighter

Seasonal Firefighter "Temporary" Positions
Federal Positions - People interested in a job as a seasonal firefighter must apply to the agency they are interested in working for. Each agency (Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, State of Montana, etc.) has its own process for hiring seasonal employees. You may want to consider applying to more than one agency. Each agency has it's own timeline for accepting applications, be sure to check with each agency for timely submission of applications.

To become a wildland firefighter, you must have a minimum of training (provided by the agency) and pass a physical fitness test. The average firefighter is paid approximately $8.00/hour. There are generally opportunities to work overtime at time-and-a-half, and they may receive hazard pay (an added 25% of base salary). Most agencies hire numerous seasonal employees in fire and non-fire positions. The majority of seasonals are hired in the Western United States and may work from May to September. Regardless of the type of projects these individuals work on during the season, almost everyone receives basic firefighter training. These trained individuals can be called upon to help with initial attack, on an organized fire crew, engine module, or in a support role. If your seasonal position is non-fire, you show an interest and perform well on fire assignments, you will significantly increase your chances of being hired in a fire position the following season.

State and Local Positions - There's no standardized application procedure for applying for firefighter positions for individual State or local government fire organizations. Many States hire directly through the state employment office. However, some are hired directly by the State Land Management agency. Some Land Management Agencies only accept applications during the dates the vacancy announcement is open. Please refer to the web site for each individual State or local agency and search for the employment procedures. Check web sites on a regular basis for current job vacancy postings.

Most federal temporary jobs require that you fill out one of the following application forms: An OPTIONAL APPLICATION FOR FEDERAL EMPLOYMENT (OF-612), or an APPLICATION FOR FEDERAL EMPLOYMENT (SF-171). And the following forms which may support your qualifications or competitive status: The OPM-1170, list of your college courses, (college transcript may also be require). DD-214 and SF-15 forms if you are a veteran.

You may also need to fill out supplemental applications required by individual national forests, such as the STATEMENT OF PHYSICAL ABILITY FOR WORK (SF-177).

Note: Some application packages contain AVAILABILITY RESPONSE SLIPS, which must be submitted every month you wish to be considered for employment. You should also check with local or regional offices to find out when they anticipate building applicant pools for their next fire season.

The Operations and Workforce Development Committee (OWDC) has no responsibility or authority to hire or recommend applicants for jobs or job openings. Please do not contact members of the OWDC or NWCG training for job opportunities, but refer to the information provided above.

Helpful sites

  • Examples of firefighter duties, work conditions, hours, pay, physical fitness requirements, training, personal responsibilities and how to apply, can be found at www.fire.blm.gov/recruit.htm.
  • Bureau of Land Management hiring information is found at www.blm.gov/careers.
  • National Park Service hiring information is found at www.nps.gov/fire/ (click on Employment).
  • Applications for the other federal agency jobs can be found at www.fs.fed.us/fsjobs/ and www.firejobs.doi.gov/.
  • You can search via the Office of Personnel Management, OPM-USA Jobs for federal fire jobs. The federal job series for fire positions are 0462 and 0455. To simplify your search for these openings, you can select Series 0462 and Series 0455 jobs and be automatically updated two times a week (Tuesdays and Fridays) of current job listings.
  • Applications for the federal jobs and more information can also be found online at www.fs.fed.us/fsjobs/ and www.firejobs.doi.gov/ and www.nps.gov/fire/jobs/. Applications for USFS jobs can be ordered by sending an email to fsjobs@fs.fed.us or by calling (877) 813-3476 toll-free.