The BC Wildfire Service employs approximately 1,100 firefighters each year. Staff work on one of four crew types spread across the province and able to respond to new fires in as little as 30 minutes.
BC Wildfire Service firefighter crew types
Initial attack crews are small, 3- or 4-person quick-response teams that are able to control approximately 94% of all new wildfires in B.C.
Unit crews are 20-person teams specialized in sustained attack operations like installing hose and pump lines, burn operations and removing fuel using chainsaws.
Rapattack crews are a specialized type of 3-person initial attack crew who use medium-lift helicopters equipped with hoist and rappel gear to access difficult-to-reach incidents.
Parattack crews are a specialized type of initial attack crew that are deployed to incidents by parachuting out of fixed-wing aircraft.
All BC Wildfire Service firefighters are trained to Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) standards and are required to complete the Canadian Performance Exchange Standard for Type 1 Wildland Firefighters (the WFX-FIT Test). Given their high level of skills and experience, Type 1 firefighters can be deployed or imported nationally or internationally through mutual aid agreements.
In addition to wildfire crews employed directly by the BCWS, thousands of contract firefighters join the response to B.C.'s wildfires each year.
Frequently asked questions
The BC Wildfire Service hires new firefighters every year. The hiring process usually begins in late December and lasts several months.
The BC Wildfire Service is always seeking new staff who bring can bring relevant skills and knowledge to our teams. To learn more about working with the BC Wildfire Service, check out Employment and Contract Opportunities.
Yes, there are three official "types" of wildfire fighter in B.C.:
- Type 1 certified firefighters have the highest level of training and are employed directly by the BCWS or wildfire agencies from around Canada.
- Type 2 certified firefighters have enough training to support a variety of operations on lower risk incidents and are employed by contract companies.
- Type 3 certified firefighters have the lowest level of training and are used to support mop-up and patrol operations when wildfires have been contained. They are employed by contract companies.
Within the BC Wildfire Service, there are advanced levels of certification that indicate a person's ability to deal with various operational situations. Leadership staff within the BCWS are highly trained and support the development of ministry personnel, contractor partners and communities.
BC Wildfire Service considers crew safety a top priority. This involves managing fatigue with crew rotations and safe work standards:
- Firefighting personnel must typically have a full 8 hours of downtime between shifts.
- Crew members can work a maximum of 14-day duty-days (days exceeding 7 hours of work) in a row before they must take days off.