A little help please, difficult to find information

DanR
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 1969 7:33 pm

A little help please, difficult to find information

Postby DanR » Tue Apr 19, 2016 10:24 pm

Hello everybody, I'm brand new to this forum. Without going into boring details about myself, I've spent many hours researching this job and honestly believe I would love to do it and think it would be an amazing experience. There are some answers I've been trying to find which are proving to be elusive, does a person need a car to work wildland fire for example? As I understand it I may need one in order to transport myself to town for groceries or to home on days off and I know B.C does not take care of the accommodation side of things during time off. I just wanted confirmation that I need a car, do some people make it work carpooling with others?

As well I recently found out that I can take emergency first aid and standard first aid in Alberta and then apply for an out of jurisdiction B.C OFA 1 certificate so that hopefully I can apply to Alberta and B.C in 2017. Would I really have first aid for both provinces in this case or would my Alberta certificate merely be replaced by a B.C one (in which case I couldn't apply to Alberta.) I have personal wilderness experience and I believe I'm well suited to this job but I don't have much work experience or volunteer experience that would lend itself to it. My plan is to move to Edmonton where I will volunteer in search and rescue and fire fighting as soon as possible and get as much first aid as possible to build up my resume. I have ICS-100 and a basic Nova Scotia wildland fire suppression course and will take as many other short courses as I can, even just to show my resolve and commitment in my cover letter. If I have to buy a car it will limit the amount of first aid and certifications I can get but I'm willing to work for a contractor company in B.C in 2017 if I can't get one of the government positions.

Grubs
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 1969 7:33 pm

Postby Grubs » Mon Apr 25, 2016 12:04 am

Hey man,

Good on you for wanting to go wildland. It's a awesome gig. If you want to work in BC, or any of the western provinces just get your OFA 3 if you can. It's a pain. I got mine while working contract in BC and now work in Alberta. It's a worksafe BC course and there isn't much equivalency. The nice thing is it's good for 3 years and accepted in most western provinces.

If you want to work on a provincial crew, BC or Alberta get in shape. BC will want you light - 200 pounds max, and putting up a high score on the beep test during your interview. Same for Alberta, do good on the WFX and they prefer you be light too - not as strict but it will make a difference.

I now work in Alberta, have also worked in BC. Attitude is a big one, most people don't have prior fire experience. It's a lot of crappy days and they want someone who is going to work long hours with a smile and do it for up to 18 days. Study up on fire, behavior, terms and educate yourself. If you get to the interview stage demonstrate you care, your a team player, and that you want it. I heard of guys thinking they could get hired because they did really good on the fitness portion. More to it than that.

It's competitive! Get the qualifications you can, I think 1200 people applied in alberta and just over 100 hires. BC gets 2-3000 applicants I think. You have to stand out. Honestly, not having a car and this job is a challenge. Not impossible. Those who don't have cars are usually
Relatively local and have someone to drive them around - don't think the guy who says he'll drive you can when his girlfriend has made other plans at the end of your shift lol.

Contract work isn't bad but don't expect to get rich. I did it and the experience certainly got me where I am today. Find a reputable company, you'll probably have to move near where they are based and have a job you can leave on short notice. You get the 'fire scraps' when provincial resources are stretched. It's a rough go - but well worth it! If it's a busy season you might get a couple months of steady work, make decent coin and that's when you'll know you want to get on with a provincial crew!

If you got any questions ask away! Hope that helps. Just apply anywhere you can and see what you get. Might take you a year, might take a couple but it's worth it!

DanR
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 1969 7:33 pm

Postby DanR » Fri May 20, 2016 10:52 am

Thank you for your response Grubs, it was helpful. I'm living in Edmonton like I planned and am going to work on building my resume for this job, regards to this I wanted to get your opinion if I can. I've actually been accepted into a forest tech program in Ontario which seems like it would be a huge help in getting a wildland job but unfortunately I don't have any savings to speak of at the moment and don't think student loans would cover the expenses. My plan instead is to get my EMR here in Edmonton which I learned (after many phone calls) you can use to get an out of jurisdiction OFA 3 certificate in B.C. It sounds like EMR would be a good step up but probably not enough on it's own to get a job. I'm going to save for a car and volunteer in search and rescue if I can buy one soon enough and also use the car to go on bushcraft and other wilderness adventures, I want to document these with pictures and write ups and maybe use this as one way to show that I'm hardy when it comes to the outdoors and truly love that stuff. I think this all my budget would allow as I only have until November and January to apply for Alberta and B.C crews, a bit later for the contract crews. In your opinion would this sound like a competitive resume if I did these things? Is there anything you would add or change if you were in my shoes? Given the intense fire year thus far I am hoping that the provinces and individual companies are going to be hiring for more spots than usual in 2017. The search and rescue I think would demonstrate team work if I'm able to do that, which sounds very important in getting a position.

Thanks,
Dan

DanR
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 1969 7:33 pm

Postby DanR » Sun May 22, 2016 3:16 pm

And Grubs, or anyone else reading this, could you tell me a bit about your experience with smoke exposure? In preparing to get into this job next year it would be really helpful to know how bad it can be in this regard? I was thinking about buying a respirator to put in my kit. I know these aren't at all suitable for wearing for long periods of time but I have read that some people take these with them to the fire line and wear them just when there are very heavy smoke conditions.

Thanks,
Dan

Bertafire
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 1969 7:33 pm

Postby Bertafire » Thu Jun 16, 2016 10:59 am

The smoke exposure isn't too bad just depending on the status of the fire and the winds at the time. I've seen a couple guys carry around bandanas for when the smoke is thick but never a respirator. In regards to getting hired with Alberta forestry they do like outdoorsy type people and if you have any kind of chainsaw experience. As well as if you are willing to go to any district in the province for work and seem eager. Good luck!


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