December 18, 2018
Writer: Bryanna Willis
Working as a wildland firefighter might actually be a great job for college students looking to make some money over the summer.
The Idaho Falls Bureau of Land Management is looking for wildland firefighters for the 2019 fire season. Kelsey Griffee is a public information officer and a wildland firefighter. She said she initially started working as a firefighter to earn money for college.
“Fires happen in the summer here,” Griffee said, “and so when I would finish my finals in the Spring I would head to my crew and start fighting fires through the summer and then when Fall came around and it was time to come back to school I would leave my crew and go back to school and have some money in my pocket from all those hours out fighting fires.”
Griffee said that “quite a few” people on the crew initially got their start fighting fires while they were in college.
Seasonal firefighters start work mid-May to the beginning of June.
Although firefighters are there to fight fires, that doesn’t mean they only work when a fire is happening, this is a full-time job.
Griffee said more firefighters will be working on a heavy engine, posted in several different locations.
Work starts at 9 or 9:30 a.m. and then about an hour is spent I what's called “PT” checks performed on gear and equipment. They conduct training and at any point in
“Days can be quite long, you could easily end up working around 16 hours,” Griffee said. “Be sleeping on the ground eating some MRE but having a really good time doing it.”
Forty hours a week is not hard to reach and could even be longer. The hours, Griffee said, are very much determined on the fires they are fighting.
When fighting a fire, safety is always the number one concern.
“We have many things now in place because we have learned the hard way in many cases, with wildland firefighting,” Griffee said. “Everyone has protective equipment that they wear, and we are always watching each other’s back and have communication and lookouts and escape routes in place.”
Griffee said her favorite part about work as a wildland firefighter is the people she works with.
“When you are working those long shifts of 16 hours, and you are sleeping on the ground you want to be around some good people,” Griffee said.
But what has kept her in the job, is the challenge- both mentally and physically.
“When you are facing that flame-front there are so many different ways to tackle that,” Griffee said. “Just testing your body for how far it is going to be able to hike and work and put in those long hours.”
As far as what kind of fire they face, Griffee said it is about 50/50 between lightning and
In the last season, Griffee said most of the fires they faced, caused by humans, came because of illegal exploding target shooting.
To learn more go to idahofireinfo.com and click on the Idaho BLM Fire and Aviation-Job Announcements tab.
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