Naches Ranger District Fire Management

Fire Managament and Ecology | Fire employment information on the Naches Ranger District


Firefighters and Fire Ecology

Being a modern wildland firefighter takes more than just bravery and a desire for excitement. The firefighters, fire technicians, and professional fire management personnel of the Forest Service are at the cutting edge of a complex and important field. Over 300 million acres of Federal lands are at risk from fire, along with more than 700 million non-Federal acres. Managing wildland fires is an important job. Uncontrolled wildland fires threaten human life, homes, communities, and livelihoods, as well as trees, wildlife, and natural systems. Our job is to prevent human-caused wildland fires, as well as to suppress them. Permanent and temporary Forest Service employees accomplish all of this with teamwork, professionalism, and a constant emphasis on safety.

Trees burning

Fire is a fact of life

Since the beginning of time, nature and humans have caused wildland fires to rage across our forested continent. It’s a fact that wildland fire is a part of our natural environment. For more than a century, organized efforts to prevent and suppress wildland fires have, ironically, contributed to an unhealthy forest situation. Today, we are faced with overcrowded forests littered with small growth and fallen timber. These conditions cause larger, more intense and dangerous fires than those of the past. Facing this reality, we have to understand the facts of nature and pursue intelligent, scientific approaches to wildland fire management.

 

Fire is a friend

Because fire is a natural cleansing agent that removes dead and unwanted materials, Forest Service wildland fire specialists apply a range of fire prevention and fire utilization strategies year round.

These Strategies include:

  • Suppressing conditions that can lead to wildland fires getting out of control.
  • Using prescribed fire, a fire ignited by fire managers under controlled conditions, to reduce hazardous buildup of live and dead vegetation in the forest.
  • Informing and educating the public about fire prevention, suppression, fire ecology, and the role of fire as a disturbance element.
  • Educating the public about fireproofing their homes.

 

Naches fuel type
Naches RD fuel type

Fire is a Force

When a natural or human caused wildland fire threatens to spread out of control, USDA Forest Service fire crews swing into action. Assignments vary, and crews normally involve people from other Federal or State agencies. Crews may also be part of a larger engine, smokejumper, hotshot, helitack, helicopter, or hand crew. It can be tough and dirty work, but the rewards are many.

The USDA Forest Service protects life, property, and some of the most valuable natural lands in the Nation.

Our major responsibilities in dealing with wildland fires are to:

  • Prevent, fight, and suppress uncontrolled wildland fires that are the result of natural causes.
  • Prevent and suppress human-caused fires on Federal lands, and assist communities in suppressing fires on non-Federal lands.
  • Watch for outbreaks of fire by using lookouts and aerial observation.
  • Monitor naturally caused fires and, if they become a threat, determine when, where, and how to control the spread of the fire.
  • Launch coordinated, strategic, and tactical ground-based and aviation-supported fire suppression missions, ensuring that all activities are managed in a safe manner.

Training is a part of all fire-related positions. Skills development and progressive Assignments build fire credentials and eligibility to compete for more senior positions.

Fire Employment on the Naches Ranger District 

        Naches fire crew 

Positions Include:

Fire Suppression (Hand Crew)

Crewmembers or leaders build firelines using Pulaskis, shovels, and chainsaws to control spreading wildland fire. They patrol areas of controlled fires and perform mop-up by searching out and extinguishing any remaining burning material. They also observe, collect, and preserve evidence of the cause of fires.

Fire Suppression (Engine)

Fire engine drivers/operators drive fire engines to fire locations, frequently over unimproved roads. They place vehicles for safety and optimal use of water, foam, and water-handling equipment. Engine crewmembers work with specialized firefighting equipment and perform many strenuous activities, including constructing firelines with hand tools or hose lays, conducting burnout operations, and mopping up hotspots near the fire’s edge. 

Fire Prevention

Fire prevention crews establish contact with forest users, visitors, and local residents. They inform the public about fire danger, advise precautions to prevent the occurrence of destructive fires, and explain pertinent laws and regulations. 

Basic Requirements

Wildland firefighters usually sign on as temporary seasonal employees, training at entry-level positions and gaining valuable firefighting experience. Some positions, including aviation positions, require specific qualifications, education, experience, and credentials appropriate for the occupation. If you want to be a wildland firefighter, you must be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen. You must also pass our physical exam and work capacity test. With the exception of some lookouts and dispatchers, you must also be able to work under conditions that are often arduous and stressful. The ability to travel and be away from home for extended periods of time is essential because crews often travel to other States and, occasionally, to foreign countries. Everyone is expected to display professionalism, responsibility, and safety consciousness.

Temporary and permanent employees generally work 8-hour days, 5 days a week. Extended shifts of 12 hours or more are common, with overtime available during the fire season. Hazard pay and evening or weekend pay rates can also significantly increase take-home pay for most firefighters

Benefits for temporary and permanent employees include:

  • Paid holidays, vacation, and sick leave
  • Flexible work schedules in some locations
  • Wellness and personal counseling programs in many locations
  • Training programs for safety and to enhance firefighting skills for career development
  • Opportunities for personal growth

Benefits for permanent employees include:

  • Health and life insurance
  • Federal retirement plan
  • Paid moving expenses (for moves after initial appointment)

Firefighting involves working under very hazardous conditions for long periods of time and firefighting crews are expected to accept difficult tasks. Firefighters often endure hot, smoky, dirty, dusty working conditions with little sleep and poor food. Sleep deprivation is the norm and working with sharp tools, in the dark, on a steep hillside, under hazardous conditions is a common occurrence. Firefighters are frequently required to work for days at a time with only the 40 pounds of equipment carried in a fire pack. The work performed is extremely physically demanding and can be emotionally taxing. Together for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 4 months, the crew eats, works, travels, and rests as a unit. Under these conditions, compatibility, camaraderie, understanding, and crew pride are an absolute necessity.

Personal Responsibilities

Firefighters will be expected to conduct themselves in a responsible, professional manner, and to project a positive personal image as an employee of the U.S. Forest Service. The concept of rapid mobility requires firefighters to be in a state of physical and mental readiness at all times, and prepared for extended fire assignments. Employees will be required to abide by and support the U.S. Forest Service rules regarding conduct and ethics for fire assignments.
 

Naches Ranger Stattion
Naches Ranger Station

Work Dates (tour of duty) and Pay

Each season, the Naches Fire Mgt seeks quality employees to fill crewmember positions for duty as wildland firefighters. Crew members are hired either as temporary employees who work 1039 hours in a 1-year basis or as Permanent Seasonal Employees (PSE) where the hours worked per year depend upon the length of the fire season and the workload. The average fire season begins in spring and ends in late fall. Naches fire management believes that education is important and supports this by making arrangements for late start dates and early ending dates for people who wish to attend an educational institution and work during the summer break from June through August.

Temporary employees are hired as Forestry Aids and Technicians with a pay scale grade of GS-462-03 to GS-462-05, which translates into an hourly base pay of $9.42 - $11.84. PSE’s are hired as Forestry Technicians and Supervisory Forestry Technicians at the GS-462-05 to GS-462-07 level, which translates as $11.84 – $14.66 base pay per hour or $24,701 to $30,597 base pay annually.

Availability

Firefighters can be on call for an incident dispatch 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the fire season. Each member of the crew is expected to be available, day or night, for every dispatch. During duty hours, the crew is required to be en route to the incident within 2 minutes, and for off-duty hour dispatches, the crew will be assembled and traveling to the incident within a designated amount time. These guidelines require a high level of personal responsibility and commitment from crewmembers to the crew. 

Travel

Travel is another important aspect of being a firefighter. A typical fire season requires the crew to be away from the duty station for the majority of the four-month period. Long drives in crowded conditions must be endured and travel by airplane and helicopter often occurs.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).