Dispatchers are employed at each of the province’s six fire centres, providing the communication link between the wildfire coordination centres to aircraft and personnel in the field and they implement pre-approved fire control decisions. Dispatchers must be able to stay calm and focused in emergency situations, know how to multitask effectively, have good written and verbal communication skills, be a team player, and be willing to work extended periods with minimal time off during the summer.
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Dispatcher Roles and Responsibilities
A dispatcher fills a vital and highly technical role that involves:
- Receiving and responding to initial fire reports;
- Handling all radio transmissions;
- Monitoring and implementing all safety procedures for personnel, aircraft and equipment;
- Transmitting, receiving, relaying and documenting communications between various individuals and groups;
- Operating computer equipment and applications to access and track wildfires, fire weather, forecasts, indices, weather station observations, lightning location, aircraft management and advanced fire management;
- Receive fire updates and fire hazard information, record all required information, and forward it to all relevant personnel;
- Maintain and record a daily log of wildfire activity;
- Implement or assist with the implementation of emergency response procedures to downed aircraft or other emergency situations as required;
- Working independently at times and also directly with any number of other team members as required;
- Multitasking, prioritizing, organizing, and completing workload while remaining flexible to changing conditions;
- Taking on other projects and tasks as needed.
The work is characterized by multiple demands, interruptions, time critical requests, and changes of pace throughout the day. Attention to detail is very important and the nature of the work requires professionalism and discretion to ensure confidentiality. Dispatchers must be able to work accurately and efficiently under stressful and prolonged circumstances.
The dispatcher job competition opens in November of each year. Interested applicants should download and submit an application package (PDF) to the location(s) of their choice by the end of the third week of February. All application packages must be received by 4:30 p.m. on the day of the application deadline.
Coastal Fire Centre - Parksville, B.C.
Kamloops Fire Centre - Kamloops, B.C.
Southeast Fire Centre - Castlegar, B.C.
Provincial Airtanker Centre - Kamloops, B.C
Q: Why is multitasking so important?
A: Dispatchers are required to monitor various computer programs and radio channels. Activity in the dispatch centre is often hectic and dispatchers who are unable to multitask effectively will not be able to handle the increased activity.
Q: What if I want to apply to multiple locations?
A: You may apply to more than one location. Send your application to the contact for each location that you would be willing to accept a position.
Q: What happens next after I apply?
A: If your application passes initial screening, you will be contacted by phone or email to attend an interview. We will only contact applicants who successfully pass the initial screening criteria and who will be invited for an interview. If your application is incomplete or late, your application will not be considered but you are encouraged to reapply again the following year.
Q: How can I get more information on my status throughout the process?
A: You may contact the person listed for the relevant fire centre. Depending on how many applications are received, the recruiting process can be quite lengthy and the timeline can also vary slightly between Fire Centres due to off-season staffing levels. The general timeline for the fire season recruiting process is:
- 3rd Friday in February - application deadline for all Fire Centres
- Late February - application screening
- February/March - interviews in various locations in B.C.
- March/April - job offers for upcoming fire season
Q: How can I update my contact information?
A: Please send an email with your updated information to each Fire Centre contact that you submitted an application to.
Q: How many applications do you receive and how many jobs are there?
A: On average the BC Wildfire Service receives 200-400 dispatcher applications each year. There are approximately 50 dispatchers in total across B.C. The number of available jobs changes from year to year, ranging from 10 for a slow year, to over 25 for a high turnover year.
Q: How long is the interview process?
A: The interview process takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours. It consists of a panel interview, a typing test and a computerized call response test.
Q: What is the difference between dispatchers at Regional Fire Centres and the Provincial Airtanker Centre?
A: The Dispatcher Roles and Responsibilities described above apply to all dispatchers in BC Wildfire Service but best describe what dispatchers can expect when they work at Fire Centres. The Provincial Airtanker Centre (PATC) is located in Kamloops at the Provincial Wildfire Coordination Centre. PATC dispatchers are responsible for responding to airtanker requests and dispatching the appropriate resources under the direction of the Provincial Airtanker Coordination Officer. PATC dispatchers work in Central Dispatch and in Logistics on a rotational basis. In Central Dispatch, dispatchers act as a communications platform to relay information between Air Attack Officers, the Coordination Officer, and Fire Centres. In Logistics, staff will send out dispatch emails to the aircrews, call for fuel for returning aircraft, and take care of other logistics related to airtanker operations. During the fire season, airtanker operations run 7 days a week, but due to limitations with night-time flying no overnight shift work is required.