Wildfire Fighters

The BC Wildfire Service employs approximately 1,000 wildfire fighters each year. In order to become a wildfire fighter with the BC Wildfire Service applicants must show motivation, have a relevant skill set, complete two fitness tests and attend the BC Wildfire Service new recruit boot camp.


Becoming a BC Wildfire Service firefighter

Applications must be completed and submitted online, through the link below. Paper applications will not be accepted. The online application consists of a questionnaire with space for the applicant to paste a copy of their cover letter and resume.

Access online application form

What you need to know before you apply:

Before you apply for a position, make sure you meet the eligibility requirements. All positions in the BC Public Service require that applicants are eligible to work in Canada. 

To be eligible to work in Canada, you must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada or authorized in writing to work in Canada under the federal Immigration Act. Eligibility to work in Canada is granted through citizenship, permanent resident status or a work permit.

You must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to accept a permanent job offer (unless stated otherwise in the posting).

If you have a valid temporary work permit, you may be eligible for temporary (auxiliary) work but only until your work permit expires or is renewed. For information on temporary work permit requirements, go to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

All applicants must possess a first aid certificate recognized in the B.C. workplace. The minimum requirement is an acceptable Level 1 or Level 2 first aid certificate and a Transportation Endorsement, or an acceptable Level 3 certificate, or Paramedic in Industry certification. First aid certificates must be valid until September 30th of the fire season for which the applicant has applied. You will be asked to show proof of acceptable first aid or proof of enrollment in a recognised first aid course at the interview.

For more information on accepted first aid tickets in the British Columbia workplace please see WorkSafe BC Accepted First Aid Certificates.

Applications without appropriate first aid documentation will not be considered.

A valid Canadian driver’s license (equivalent to BC Class 7, 5) or a license that enables you to legally drive in Canada, is required for Initial Attack, Rappel, and Parattack.  A driver’s license is not required to apply for a fire crew position; however a valid Canadian driver’s license (Class 7, 5) is preferred for all crews.

It is the responsibility of candidates to clearly identify on both their resume and application how they meet the preferred qualifications. Meeting all the preferred qualifications is not required, but an applicant should clearly demonstrate how they meet as many of the qualifications as they can. Generally, an applicant would be required to show strong examples in two or three of the preferred qualifications to be considered for an interview. The BC Wildfire Service is looking for applicants who have a well-rounded set of skills and experiences that show their ability to work well on a team; an ability to solve problems; comfort in the outdoors for extended periods of time; a willingness to work hard; and physical fitness and resilience.


The following qualifications may be considered (not in order of preference):

 

  • Previous experience on a BCWS fire crew (clearly outline dates, location and supervisor)
     
  • Post secondary forestry or resource management education (in progress or completed). This includes Canadian Forestry Accreditation Board (CFAB) accredited degree programs and Association of BC Forest Professionals (ABCFP) recognized diploma programs.
    • E.g. “Completed Vancouver Island University Forest Resources Technology Diploma” or “In third year of University of British Columbia Forest Resource Management Degree”
       
  • Other Resource Management education as recognized by the ABCFP Allied Science Forester in Training (ASFIT) Program (in progress or completed)
    • E.g. “Completed Thompson Rivers University Bachelor in Natural Resource Science degree” or “Currently in second year of University of Northern British Columbia Bachelor of Natural Resource Management program”
       
  • High level of fitness or sports achievements. The applicant is expected to demonstrate how their experience is above and beyond fitness or sports achievements obtained by the average applicant
    • E.g. Member of university team or higher, junior hockey  
    • E.g. Awards for fitness or sport achievements
    • High school sports teams or university intramurals would not be considered a preferred qualification
       
  • High level academic achievements. The applicant is expected to demonstrate how their experience is above and beyond the level of academic achievements obtained by the average applicant
    • E.g. Full academic scholarship, major academic awards.
       
  • Previous wildland fire fighting experience with a government agency
    • Describe date(s) and location(s)
       
  • Previous contract crew wildland fire fighting experience
    • Describe company, dates, and number of days deployed
       
  • Forestry work experience
    • E.g. Logging, planting, fall and burn, silviculture, layout and probing
    • Be sure to include company, date(s), and location(s)
       
  • Other resource-based work and experience
    • E.g. Includes oil and gas work, mining, and farming
    • Clearly outline the scope, location(s), and date(s)
       
  • Extensive outdoor or wildness experience
    • Paid experience might include guiding ski patrol or outfitting/guiding
    • Unpaid experience should demonstrate an extensive background in outdoor exploits
       
  • Junior Fire Crew training or employment
    • Taken in some BC high schools as part of an endorsed work experience program
       
  • WorkSafe BC recognized OFA Level 3 valid through to September of the year of application
    • Please see above for mandatory first aid requirement
       
  • Valid British Columbia Forest Safety Council BC Faller Certification or ENFORM Oil & Gas Faller Certification
     
  • Volunteer Fire Department experience
    • Show number of years and relevant specific details, especially experience with wildfires
    • NFPA training alone would not be considered a preferred qualification
       
  • Mechanical aptitude or trades experience
    • E.g. Experience or training with small engine repairs

Applicants who successfully pass the screening phase will be invited to an interview and fitness assessment. The interviews and fitness assessments are held at selected locations throughout the province in February of each year. Actual interview dates and locations will be listed on the application.

The interview consists of a series of behavioural competencies, situational and technical questions relating to fire fighting. The fitness assessment consists of the Leger 20 metre shuttle run test and the score from this is added to the applicant’s interview score.

Both the interview and fitness assessment must be attended in person to be considered for New Recruit Boot Camp.

Based on the crew member vacancy, top scoring applicants from the interview and fitness assessments will be invited to New Recruit Bootcamp. (NRBC). Typically, three, one week-long boot camps are held in Merritt starting in mid-April. Annually between 150 and 200 candidates are invited to boot camp depending on the number of vacancies on BC Wildfire Service fire crews across the province.

During NRBC candidates must meet the pre-employment fitness standard which consists of the nationally recognised WFX-Fit test. This test is a pass or fail test and unsuccessful candidates will not be allowed to continue with the NRBC. In order to be part of this test candidates must bring a completed Physicians Release Form (PDF) and present it to the fit test appraiser. 

At NRBC the following courses are taught:

  • Wildfire Service Overview
  • Fundamentals of Fire fighting
  • Portable Pumps and Water Deliver Systems
  • Burning Off and Backfiring
  • Heavy Equipment
  • Chainsaw Operations
  • Wilderness Survival
  • Human Factors
  • Fireline Communications
  • Helicopter Safety
  • Fire Weather
  • Incident Command System
  • Safety and Wildfire Entrapment
  • Navigation

After NRBC, successful candidates will be offered a position on one of the fire crews in the province. A first-year fire fighter can expect to work until the end of August with the chance of being offered an extension depending on the fire conditions and activity.

The recruiting process can be quite lengthy, running from the application deadline in January, to a possible boot camp invite in April and job offer by mid-May. The BC Wildfire Service makes every effort to keep candidates informed on their status during this time, by email and phone, but it is an applicant’s responsibility to ensure that their contact information is current throughout the process. If an applicant is no longer being considered the BC Wildfire Service will advise the applicant directly, as soon as possible.

The general timeline for the recruiting process is:

  • Mid-November – online applications open
  • Mid-January – application deadline
  • February – interviews at various locations in B.C.
  • Mid-March – invitations to new recruit boot camp
  • May – job offers

Q: Is the online application the only way to apply?

A: Yes, all applications are received on behalf of the BC Wildfire Service by the BC Public Service Agency. The application process consists of creating a profile, filling out a questionnaire and uploading text versions of your cover letter and resume. To apply please look for the link posted in mid-November. Paper or faxed copies will not be accepted.

Q: Must I attend the interview and/ or fitness assessment in person?

A: Yes. Due to the large number of interviews and short timelines, both portions must be attended in person, at one of the designated locations during scheduled times.

Q: How do I know if my first aid ticket is accepted in B.C.?

A: The first aid tickets accepted in the British Columbia workplace can be found on the WorkSafe BC website.

Q: What if I cannot find my first aid ticket on the WorkSafeBC site?

A: It is likely that your ticket is not recognised by WorkSafeBC. To be employed by the BC Wildfire Service you must have a valid first aid ticket and transportation endorsement (or Level 3 first aid) which are recognised by WorkSafeBC. The BC Wildfire Service cannot consider your application without a valid first aid ticket(s). You will be asked to show proof of acceptable first aid or proof of enrollment in a recognised first aid course at the interview. Candidates must have successfully completed the first aid course prior to attendance at boot camp.

Q: How can I get feedback on my application or interview?

A: Due to the large volume of applications we are unable to provide individual feedback for applications. A candidate must clearly detail in their resume and cover letter any preferred qualifications they meet.

The interview panel may be able to provide general feedback from your interview when it is conducted but will not be able to tell you how well you did in relation to other interviewees.

Q: How can I update my contact information?

A: Please refer to the instructions on the application site to update your contact information.

Q: How many applications do you receive and how many jobs are there?

A: On average the BC Wildfire Service receives 1000-1500 applications each year. The number of jobs changes from year to year, ranging from 100 for a low year, to over 200 for a high turnover year.

Q: Do I get to choose where I want to work?

A: Recruitment and crew allocation is a provincial process and applicants should expect to be placed on a fire crew anywhere in the Province when they apply. An applicant’s preferred work location is considered but there are often limited openings. Individuals can be asked to go another location or crew type that may not be their preference.

Q: Will accommodations be provided for me?

A: In most cases staff are responsible for finding their own accommodations near their work locations; local and returning staff and crew members may be able to assist you in finding accommodations. In a few locations staff housing is provided as an option either at no fee or a nominal cost. These locations are: Alexis Creek (Unit Crew), Chetwynd (Initial Attack), Fort Nelson (Initial Attack) and Salmon Arm (Rapattack).

Q. How do I apply for parattack?

A. Apply for parattack by the Fire Crew Member application. Be sure to select ‘yes’ to the question asking if you also applying to parattack. Note that applicants to the parattack position must already have previous wildland fire fighting experience. For more details on the parattack please contact: BCWS.PGFCParattackRecruiting@gov.bc.ca  

 


Becoming a contract wildfire fighter

In addition to its own crews, the BC Wildfire Service regularly calls on the services of contract crews to support the delivery of wildfire management in British Columbia. If you have missed the deadline for applying to be a wildfire fighter with BC Wildfire Service, you may wish to consider approaching one of the contract companies approved to provide firefighting services to the province:

Find approved contract companies