NATURE OF CREW WORK IN ALASKA
Wildland fires in Alaska’s Boreal Forest pose unique fire suppression operational and logistical challenges. Common work conditions include heat, cold, wet, wind, dust, smoke, and insects—all conditions are possible in a 16 hour shift.
In the field, housing consists of a tent, and meals consist of field rations (MREs) supplemented with fresh food. Primitive field conditions for weeks at a time are normal and expected for IHC’s. Cellular phones work intermittently and only in populated areas. Please see Fire Duty in Alaska for more information. Typically, when the crews travel to lower 48 assignments, they remain away from their home base for up to 3 months.
While not on fire assignment, the crew’s work consists of a variety of conservation and resource enhancement projects such as prescribed fire, hazard fuel reduction, trail construction and rehabilitation, and building maintenance or construction.
Employment begins in early May and can last as long as mid-October, or as short as August. 40 hour weeks consisting of 5-8 hour days are guaranteed while in pay status. 16+ hours per day, 7 days per week are common while on fire assignment.
Both of Alaska Fire Service’s IHCs spend the first two weeks participating in physical fitness, classroom training, and field exercises. In addition to required refresher training, critical training may include:
- Pre-determined National Wildfire Coordinating Group S-, L-, and I- courses, as well as other Alaska-field specific training
- Field exercises (helicopter, chainsaw, and pump operations)
- Prescribed fire
Applicants should expect a crew environment that values working safely and working hard. Dedication to physical fitness supports these values. A crew’s ability to perform in demanding conditions for extended periods of time ultimately depends on fit individual crewmembers. Those who fail to prepare mentally or physically for the arduous demands of the job will be dropped from the program. Please see the IHC Fitness Page.
Most applicants will require a minimum of six weeks of training according to validated physical fitness studies. Most Hotshot positions traditionally start work the first week of May. Potential Hotshots should begin physical training no later than ten weeks prior to that date.
HOW TO APPLY
Alaska Fire Service recruits and advertises Hotshot positions through the website http://www.usajobs.gov/. Applications may be submitted for job announcements when they open, traditionally in December and early January; however, opening and closing dates vary. Check the USAJobs Website for announcements or contact FIRES Help Desk at (888) 364-6432.
Crewmember positions are filled at the GS-3, GS-4, and GS-5 levels, depending upon the individual’s prior experience and training as well as available position openings. Desirable candidates have previous fire experience, positive references from previous supervisors, a good work ethic, and a positive attitude.
Contact the respective Crew Superintendent for information regarding career seasonal positions (overhead).
Midnight Sun IHC