Wildland Firefighter Applicant Information

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Topics below will go over what job types there are, the types of applicants, tours of duty, special requirements for firefighters and some fire positions, and generalized salary and benefit information.

You must be a United States citizen and at least 18 years of age in order to work as a firefighter for the National Park Service. All wildland firefighting jobs for the National Park Service are announced through the USAJobs website. We do not accept resumes via email.

The information contained below was true at the time of publication. However, specifics are subject to change. Please consult individual units fire program or human resources office for any variations.

Use the Important Links to the right for more in-depth information on specific topics.

Types of Jobs

Federal jobs are listed by thier series number. Go to the USAJobs website and search for the following series. Through USAJobs, a saved search can be set-up for e-mail notifications when specific series have jobs opportunities posted.
  • 0301 Administration & Program Staff
  • 0404 Biological Science Technician (includes Fire Effects Monitoring positions)
  • 0401 Biologist (includes Fire Management Specialist positions)
  • 0560 Budget Analyst
  • 0561 Budget Clerk / Assistant
  • 2151 Dispatcher
  • 0408 Ecologist
  • 0081 Fire Protection and Prevention Specialist (may include Structural Fire positions)
  • 0462 Forestry Technician (includes the majority of basic firefighter positions as well as positions for Helitack crew member, Wildland Fire Module member, and Hotshot crew member)
  • 0343 Management and Program Analyst
  • 0344 Management and Program Clerk / Assistant
  • 0303 Office Clerk / Assistant (includes Fire Program Management Assistants—FPMA)
  • 0390 Telecommunications Processing Specialist
  • 2101 Transportation Specialist (may include Aviation positions)
  • 0341 Administrative Officer
  • 1001 Arts and Information Specialist
  • 1701 Educational and Training Program Specialist
  • 0856 Engineering Technician, Electronics
  • 0203 Human Resources Assistant
  • 2210 Information Technology Management Specialist
  • 0025 Park Ranger
  • 1105 Purchasing Agent
  • 1712 Training Instructor

Types of Applicants

There are different types of applicants for Federal jobs. Depending if there has been prior Federal service, such as credible military service, applicants can apply for jobs using different hiring authorities.

Non-status jobs are open to all United States citizens and are located throughout the United States. Though some jobs are in job series that include fire-related jobs, please note that not all jobs listed may have fire-related duties.

Some of these jobs may be seasonal in nature (not to exceed 1,039 hours during a season), and some may be permanent full-time or permanent subject to furlough or term.

The majority of these jobs are open to:

  • Permanent federal employees in a competitive position, excepted service position covered by an interchange agreement, or eligible for reinstatement.
  • Veterans eligible for veterans' preference or separated from the armed forces under honorable conditions after three years or more of continuous military service.
  • Persons with noncompetitive appointment eligibility.

In some cases the jobs listed may be open only to National Park Service employees. The job listings in this search include those also open to all United States citizens. They are located throughout the United States. Though these jobs are in job series that include fire-related jobs, please note that not all jobs listed may have fire-related duties.

Some of these jobs may be permanent full-time while others may be permanent subject to furlough (career seasonal) or term.

Veterans' preference recognizes the economic loss suffered by citizens who have served their country in uniform in times of strife, restores veterans to a favorable competitive position for government employment, and acknowledges the larger obligation owed to disabled veterans.

Historically, Congress has reserved preference for those who were disabled or who served in combat areas or during certain periods of time.

Veterans who qualify as preference eligibles (meaning they typically must have served on active duty for at least two years during a period of war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge is authorized, or have been disabled) are entitled to have an additional 5 or 10 points added onto their earned rating in a competitive civil service examination. In all other situations (for example, selection from a merit promotion list or other "internal" action, such as reassignment, transfer, or reinstatement), veterans' preference is not a factor.

Veterans' preference was intended to give eligible veterans an extra assist in getting a job with the government and in keeping it in the event of a reduction in force. Veterans' preference does not guarantee the veteran a job. Veterans' preference should not be confused with the special appointing authorities such as the VRA, which allow eligible veterans to be appointed noncompetitively to the competitive service.

Merit Promotion The Merit Promotion Program allows those who are status applicants (current federal employees or those who have reinstatement eligibility) to apply for job openings within the federal government. Delegated Examining Authority Delegated examining authority is an authority the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) grants to agencies to fill competitive civil service jobs with:
  • Applicants applying from outside the federal workforce,
  • Federal employees who do not have competitive service status, or
  • Federal employees with competitive service status.

Appointments made by agencies through delegated examining authority are subject to civil service laws and regulations. This is to ensure fair and open competition, recruitment from all segments of society, and selection on the basis of the applicant’s competencies or knowledge, skills, and abilities (see 5 U.S.C. § 2301).

There are additional unique hiring paths that jobs are annouced under as well. USAJobs provides a complete listing on their website. Learn more...

Tours of Duty

The following are the different types of positions and tours of duty which are available in Federal employment:

The tour of duty for a permanent full-time position is normally 8 hours per day, 40 hours per week for 52 weeks per year and includes all benefits (retirement, health insurance, life insurance, annual or vacation, and sick leave) of permanent employment.
A permanent part-time position includes all of the benefits (retirement, health insurance, life insurance, annual (vacation) and sick leave) of permanent employment. Salary, vacation and sick leave, which are normally based on a 40 hour week, will be prorated based on the number of hours worked. The Government contribution to health benefits premiums is also prorated and will usually mean a higher employee cost than for full-time positions at the same grade. Periods of full-time employment on a temporary basis could be scheduled depending upon workload fluctuations.
A permanent, career-seasonal position includes all benefits (retirement, health insurance, life insurance, annual (vacation) and sick leave) of permanent employment, but does not provide for employment on a full-time year-round basis. In this position, the employee will work at least 26 weeks, but not more than 48 weeks, in a service year. The employee will work 40 hours per week when in this pay and duty status. When services are not required, employee will be placed in a non-work non-pay status. Up to two weeks of paid vacation time may be used during part of the furlough period and/or unemployment compensation may be applied for. Salary, vacation and sick leave earnings, which are normally based on year round employment, will be prorated according to the number of weeks actually worked each year. The waiting period of within-grade increases and career tenure will also be extended by a portion of the time spent in non-pay.
A temporary/seasonal position is a non-permanent position which does not acquire competitive status and does not provide benefits other than annual (vacation) leave or sick leave. These positions provide employment for a limited period of time normally 6 months or less; although some temporary/seasonal positions may work as long as 1 year. Employees normally work 40 hours per week and may work holidays, weekends, evenings, nights, etc

Special Requirements for Firefighters and Some Fire Positions

Due to the nature of the jobs and associated hazards within the wildland fire service, some field going positions have special requirements that must be considered prior to applying. Check specific requirements on each job announcement.

There are certain physical requirements that every wildland firefighter is required to meet at the start of each season. The "Work Capacity Test" is required by every agency/bureau before an Incident Qualification Card (Red Card) can be issued. Learn more about the Work Capacity Test and Incident Qualifications. Depending on the type of crew, there may be additional physical requirements. It is recommended that you find out if there are any additional standards and what they are so you can prepare in the off season. Contact the specific location where you would like to work for additional requirements.

If you are entering into the wildland fire arena without any previous experience there are some basic classes that you may be able to complete locally which will increase your chances of being hired.Some basic fire courses are available online through the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. Contact your State Forestry agency or Community College to see if they offer any of these classes as classroom training.

The Department of the Interior and U.S. Forest Service share core expectations for arduous duty wildland firefighters which make up the Essential Functions of Arduous Duty. The Department is authorized under 5CFR 339 - Medical Qualification Determinations to require medical standards for fire positions considered arduous. Learn more...
All employees and applicants, whether in Testing Designated Positions or not, should be aware of these policies. Marijuana possession and use are illegal, both while on-duty and in off-duty hours. Drug tests administered to Federal employees and applicants include testing for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Employees who ingest a product which contains THC may test positive for THC/marijuana, and face subsequent disciplinary action, up to and including removal.

Additional Benefits Information

In addition to the challenging work and your ability to make a difference in matters of interest to all Americans, there are also employment benefits to you as a Federal Government employee. These include paid holidays, leave, family friendly policies, retirement pensions, and employee development.

The National Park Service, like most agencies, generally pays employees according to one of 3 pay systems: General Schedule (GS), Wage Grade (WG), and Senior Executive Service (ES). Most positions are covered under the General Schedule. Wage Grade positions are blue-collar positions and Executive Service are senior manager positions in the Agency. For specific salary information for General Schedule (GS) positions pertaining to jobs you are interested in, visit the Office of Personnel Management Pay Tables. There are specific salary tables for certain localities. If the locality in which you are looking for employment is not covered under a specific salary table, use the “Rest of the US” salary table.
Federal employees are entitled to 10 paid holidays each year. Learn more...
Sick leave and annual (vacation) leave policies are generous. Federal employees earn 13 days of sick leave each year. There is no ceiling on the amount that may be carried over from year to year. Annual leave accrued in the first year (13 days) exceeds the standard 10 days in the private sector. Employees earn additional annual leave as their tenure with the Federal Government increases, up to a maximum of 26 days per year. Learn more...

In addition to earned annual and sick leave which employees can use, the Federal Government provides several different family oriented leave programs.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, employees may be eligible to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year because of a serious health condition, to care for family member who has a serious health condition, care for a child after birth or placement for adoption or foster care. Job security is mandated for employees who take such leave.

In other circumstances, employees may use sick leave for situations such as to care for family members, for medical appointments, to make funeral arrangements, and for purposes related to adoption of a child.

Another program allows other employees to donate their leave to a fellow employee where the employee or a family member has a medical condition which will require prolonged leave and would result in loss of income. The donated leave allows the employee to receive their normal paycheck. Learn more...

Public Law 92-382 dated August 14, 1972, granted the same benefits for federal firefighters as law enforcement officers because of the rigorous physical requirements of their positions. Please note that not all positions that work within the fire service are subject to this law. The U.S. Department of the Interior Firefighter and Law Enforcement Retirement Team has pamphlets, training, and is the primary source for current policies. Learn more...

Last updated: May 5, 2018