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What do Forest Firefighters do?

Control and suppress fires in forests or vacant public land.

What are the Main Tasks of Forest Firefighters?

  • Collaborate with other firefighters as a member of a firefighting crew.
  • Extinguish flames and embers to suppress fires, using shovels, or engine- or hand-driven water or chemical pumps.
  • Test and maintain tools, equipment, jump gear and parachutes to ensure readiness for fire suppression activities.
  • Maintain contact with fire dispatchers at all times to notify them of the need for additional firefighters and supplies, or to detail any difficulties encountered.
  • Rescue fire victims, and administer emergency medical aid.
  • Establish water supplies, connect hoses, and direct water onto fires.
  • Patrol burned areas after fires to locate and eliminate hot spots that may restart fires.
  • Inform and educate the public about fire prevention.
  • Participate in physical training to maintain high levels of physical fitness.
  • Orient self in relation to fire, using compass and map, and collect supplies and equipment dropped by parachute.
  • Fell trees, cut and clear brush, and dig trenches to create firelines, using axes, chainsaws or shovels.
  • Maintain knowledge of current firefighting practices by participating in drills and by attending seminars, conventions, and conferences.
  • Maintain fire equipment and firehouse living quarters.
  • Operate pumps connected to high-pressure hoses.
  • Transport personnel and cargo to and from fire areas.
  • Take action to contain any hazardous chemicals that could catch fire, leak, or spill.
  • Organize fire caches, positioning equipment for the most effective response.
  • Participate in fire prevention and inspection programs.
  • Perform forest maintenance and improvement tasks such as cutting brush, planting trees, building trails and marking timber.
  • Serve as fully trained lead helicopter crewmember and as helispot manager.
  • Observe forest areas from fire lookout towers to spot potential problems.
  • Drop weighted paper streamers from aircraft to determine the speed and direction of the wind at fire sites.
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