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Forest Firefighter  What They Do

Just the Facts


Controls and suppresses fires in forests or vacant public land.

This career is part of the Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security cluster Emergency and Fire Management Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Collaborates with other firefighters as a member of a firefighting crew.
  • Extinguishes flames and embers to suppress fires, using shovels or engine- or hand-driven water or chemical pumps.
  • Tests and maintains tools, equipment, jump gear, and parachutes to ensure readiness for fire suppression activities.
  • Maintains contact with fire dispatchers at all times to notify them of the need for additional firefighters and supplies, or to detail any difficulties encountered.
  • Rescues fire victims, and administers emergency medical aid.
  • Establishes water supplies, connects hoses, and directs water onto fires.
  • Patrols burned areas after fires to locate and eliminate hot spots that may restart fires.
  • Informs and educates the public about fire prevention.
  • Participates in physical training to maintain high levels of physical fitness.
  • Orients self in relation to fire, using compass and map, and collects supplies and equipment dropped by parachute.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.



Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads of more than 50 lbs., sometimes more than 100 lbs. You must be used to very heavy physical exertion on a regular basis.
  • Work in this occupation involves bending or twisting your body more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Lighting is either extremely bright or inadequate
  • Conditions are very hot (above 90 F) or very cold (under 32 F)
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to conditions such as high voltage electricity, combustibles, explosives, and chemicals more than once a month
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of special protective items such as a breathing apparatus, safety harness, full protection suit, or radiation protection
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Picking out a particular sound in the presence of other sounds
  • Maintaining a body position that prevents falling when in an unstable position
  • Identifying color and seeing differences in color, including shades and brightness
  • Moving the arms, legs and torso together when the whole body is in motion
  • Judging how far away an object is, or which of several objects is closer or farther away
  • Using muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring
  • Bending, stretching, twisting, or reaching
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Detecting sounds and hearing the differences between sounds of different pitch and loudness
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Exerting oneself physically over long periods of time without getting out of breath
  • Lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying objects
  • Using abdominal and lower back muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring

Work Hours and Travel

  • Irregular hours
  • Overnight travel
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Firefighter -- Responds to fire alarms and other emergency calls to control and extinguish fires, protect life and property, and conduct rescue efforts.
  • Forest Ranger -- Responsible for the care and conservation of designated wild areas and parks that are held both nationally and locally.
  • Hot Shot -- Specially trained in wildfire suppression tactics, hotshot crews respond to large, high-priority fires and are trained and equipped to work in remote areas for extended periods of time with little logistical support.