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WILDLAND FIRE MANAGER - Outlook

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCool Careers Without CollegeWILDLAND FIRE MANAGER - Description, Education/training, Fighting Fires From The Sky, Outlook, Firestarters, Web Sites - FOR MORE INFORMATION

Outlook

Federal and state fire management agencies often need temporary firefighters, so seasonal work is a good way to get your foot in the door. The personnel office of a forest supervisor lets the state employment office do its recruiting, so inquire there first. State offices begin accepting federal applications in February. If the state office refers you to the forest supervisor, you will then be considered for employment on a crew. Fire managers start at about $9 per hour, with experienced veterans earning as much as $16 an hour. A top salary would be about $25,000 for a six-month stint.

Firestarters

You may be interested to learn that wildland firefighters sometimes must start fires as well as put them out.

Fires are a natural and necessary element in nature. In fact, a forest's health requires the occasional fire. A fire can clear away old, dead growth and make room for younger, more healthy trees. The ash that results from a fire is rich in nutrients and acts as a natural fertilizer. However, for a good part of this century, government policy mandated that fires not be allowed to burn. According to the National Park Service, more than 100 years of fighting wildfires has altered the landscape. This has resulted in important changes to the forest environment, such as a heavy buildup of dead vegetation, dense stands of trees, a shift to species that have not evolved and adapted to fire, and, occasionally, even an increase in non-native fire-prone plants. Because of these conditions, today's fires tend to be larger, burn hotter, and spread farther and faster, making them more severe, more dangerous, and more costly in human, economic, and ecological terms. In recent years, during droughts in California, Washington, and Florida, we have seen how easily fires can start and how quickly they rage out of control when a forest is filled with too much growth and brush. As a result, controlled burns are now part of national forest policy.

Land managers must balance wildland fire suppression with the beneficial use of fire for resource management. A prescribed fire is any fire intentionally ignited to reduce flammable fuels, such as the accumulation of brush and logs on forest floors, or to help restore ecosystem health.

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