Busy fire season prompts influx of firefighting applicants

After an outbreak of wildfires across the state the Alaska Division of Forestry and the Bureau of Land Management’s Alaska Fire Service have seen a marked increase in the number of people looking for work in the firefighting effort. But, Division of Forestry spokesman Tim Mowry says both agencies already have a list of candidates to draw from.

“The Division of Forestry and the Alaska Fire Service take applications during the month of April for positions regarding firefighting jobs for the summer,” Mowry said. “We take all those applications and we keep them in a pool.”

Applicants are chosen from that list when the need for their skill set arises. Mowry says the spring selection process is a time to ensure firefighters and some support personnel are red card certified. That’s a special certification earned through training and physical fitness tests.

Mowry doesn’t know how many people have inquired about jobs or what their motivation is. He says some probably assume that fire season is a good time to find job openings.

“That may be the case in some cases but there is training involved in all this kind of work whether you’re fighting fires or your working the warehouse,” Mowry said. “And I’m sure there are people who just want to help out and help the whole firefighting effort and we really appreciate that, but that’s not necessarily the way it works.”

Mowry says people who want to help with the fire effort can always reduce fire danger around their own home. He advises anyone interested in working with the Division of Forestry or the Alaska Fire Service to research how to become a part of next spring’s application process.

Also, anyone willing to rent vehicles and equipment for firefighting efforts can apply online through the Alaska Division of Forestry webpage.

Quinton Chandler is a reporter at KTOO in Juneau.

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