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Wildland Firefighter / Fire Tower Watchman

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Wildland firefighters combat and prevent forest or prairie fires. Forest Fire Tower Watchmen reside in fire towers to observe a particular area for fires and then notify the proper authorities.


wildland firefighter


What responsibilities will I have?

  • Serve as a firefighter or engine operator during wildfire suppression
  • If serving as a fire tower watchman or in a dispatch role, contact appropriate emergency personnel to control and extinguish fires
  • Provide rescue and alert emergency medical assistance to persons or animals injured in fire
  • Conduct maintenance on fire engines, tractors, mowers, chainsaws and other tools
  • Participate in fire break preparation, which includes the removal of rocks, trimming of trees, and mowing to more easily stop the spread of wildfire
  • Maintain preparedness throughout fire season including readiness of gear and equipment
  • Process and interpret weather information to determine burning likelihood
  • Assist with fire training orientation
  • Record and maintain fire logs
  • Perform fire station housekeeping as needed


What education and training is required?

The wildland firefighter field is competitive, so while a high school diploma will suffice, it is recommended that you pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in fire science or natural resources.


Possessing a physical training regimen is also preferable, as wildland firefighters should be in top physical condition. You must be able to lift heavy equipment and be on your feet for long periods of time. Fires may last several hours, so you also must be prepared to work significant overtime during fire season.


To pursue a career as a Wildland Firefighter:

The following high school courses are recommended: agricultural education, natural resources, environmental science, biology, chemistry, physical education, and mathematics.


Typical Employers:

Wildland firefighters and fire tower watchmen typically work for specialized fire departments and wildland firefighting agencies, fire safety organizations and associations, preserves and parks, or other conservation and natural resources organizations. A position as a wildland firefighter or fire tower watchman may be full-time or you may be employed only during fire season.


Future Job Market/Outlook

The future outlook for a wildland firefighter will be fair over the next five years. 


Suggested Professional Organizations and Associations

  • International Association for Fire Safety Science
  • Forest Fire Lookout Association
  • International Association of Wildland Fire
  • Society of American Foresters
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