July 17th, 2003

A Response to Those Who Want to Help

The National Interagency Fire Center has received many inquiries from concerned citizens wanting to assist with firefighting efforts. While these offers of support are greatly appreciated, the Fire Center does not hire wildland firefighters or support personnel. Rather, NIFC relies on resources from local land management agencies. These offices typically work through local job service offices to recruit firefighters and other entry-level fire support personnel. This process usually takes place in the off-season between December and February with training in early to late spring. During the fire season, especially one this extreme, those who conduct this training are involved in fire suppression activities.

During periods of extreme activity involving all civilian firefighters and support personnel, we rely heavily on our partners in the military and National Guard. These troops are well organized, in good physical condition and require very little training to assist in firefighting efforts. Also, as individual states prepare to handle increased activity, local National Guard members may be activated. Another source for assistance are our foreign partners. We have an agreement with Canada, which has similar training and procedures, allowing an efficient integration into our system.

Here are some tips for those interested in helping with the western wildland fires.

You must be a member of a sponsored, organized crew and receive the proper training and physical testing to participate with wildland firefighting activities.
Check with the local land management agency in your area to find out if they are hiring firefighters, other support personnel, or have a need for equipment. Many agencies work with local job service offices to recruit for these positions.