All about Wildland Fire Fighting

Using fire to fight fireOne of the things we at COAST are most proud of is that firefighters (among other public service personnel) often choose our tactical LED flashlight models for use in the field. Because firefighting is such a demanding job, an LED flashlight for tactical use must meet much higher standards in terms of power, utility and durability than a flashlight intended for general use.

Of the different types of firefighters out there, wildland firefighters have one of the most rugged and potentially dangerous jobs in existence. Wildland firefighters battle uncontrolled wildfires, often located in the middle of nowhere; their job requires different equipment, training and techniques than firefighting in more populated areas. For example, an urban firefighter will use a powerful tactical LED flashlight for searching burning buildings, whereas a wildland firefighter will more commonly need illumination for navigating outdoor areas at night.

How to Become a Wildland Firefighter

Of course, wildland firefighting involves a bit more than simply knowing how to employ an LED flashlight for tactical use. Firefighting is a highly demanding job, both for your body and your mind. Not only does firefighting require you to be in good shape – and to be able to move and carry things quickly – but it can also be a very dangerous activity. Thus, in addition to physical endurance, this career field requires quick wits, equanimity and heightened awareness of imminent danger.

Requirements. If you are interested in wildland firefighting – even if just for the summer – getting a foot in the door may not be as difficult as you might think. Generally speaking, no prior firefighting experience is required; you simply need to pass a physical exam. The job requirements are fairly straightforward: You must be in good shape, quick on your feet, attentive and a hard worker. You’ll also need to be able to carry 60-100 pounds of gear at all times.

Training. You will need around 100 hours of training before you can join a real wildland firefighting crew. During training, which is long and challenging, you won’t get a lot of sleep but will learn the proper methods and techniques for fighting wildfires. Those who are a little bit out of shape at the beginning of the training find themselves shaped up in no time.

Volunteer vs. paid. Some firefighters make a career out of it, while others volunteer their time. In reality, there are more volunteer firefighters than there are paid ones – particularly in rural areas.

Necessary Gear for Wildland Firefighting

Wildland firefighting requires specialized gear, particularly since firefighters often must sleep out in the field. In addition to a military-grade tactical LED flashlight, you’ll need core survival items such as water, food, a durable jacket, flares and a multi-tool with appropriate features; a small transistor radio for emergency use is also recommended. A shelter and other camping necessities may also be required, depending on the job.

Being a wildland firefighter is never easy, but it can be incredibly rewarding. If you’re passionate about the outdoors – and protecting the earth from uncontrolled wildfires – this might be the job for you.

[ Photo by: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Northeast Region, on Flickr, via CC License ]

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