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Protecting Our Forests From Fire

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Summer is peak forest fire season. The weather is hot, so fallen branches and leaves can dry out and become highly flammable. Take a look at the brave firefighters who protect our lands from fires!

Forest Firefighters - Up Close and Personal With a Pro

He gets to ride around in a helicopter, work in the great outdoors and rescue our forests from fires. It's all in a day's work for 31 year-old Asa MacLaurin, a firefighter for The British Columbia Forest Protection Service in Nelson, BC, Canada. He's the leader of the initial attack crew, which means that his team is the first to arrive on the scene of a forest fire and check out how serious it is. If they can, his team will take care of the blaze or call for backup if it's needed.

Forest Firefighters - Training and Equipment

In the first year, you go through rookie boot camp where you learn all about fires and how to extinguish them, as well as safety procedures. Then they make you go through the most disgusting eating challenges known to man... just kidding. From there, most of the training is done on the job. The crew works out at the gym daily to keep in great shape.

The uniforms are similar to regular fireman's outfits. They're fire resistant, but the colors and hat style are different. Forest firefighters wear brightly-colored Nomex fire retardent blue pants and red shirts for high visibility in the bush. They also wear red hard hats, similar to a construction hat, as well as goggles, boots and gloves.

To get around, the crew travels by fire truck, helicopter and of course, on foot. Helicopters can quickly transport crews to dense forest areas with few roads and are equipped to drop water on fires.

Forest Firefighters - Thumbs Up

Every day is a different experience. You never know what to expect and it can be really exciting at times. Working in the beautiful outdoors with forests and mountains is a definite plus. Another great thing is you get to meet a lot of people.

The Forest Protection Service has a cross-border agreement, so when they need help on a fire in the US, the team will head down. On his role as a firefighter Asa says, "I feel fortunate to be a part of protecting our beautiful environment."

Forest Firefighters - Thumbs Down

Every day, you have to risk your life to save the lives of others - or in this case, save the forests. Weather, like high winds, can cause a fire to spread quickly and change direction without warning. And when the weather is rough, it can be freaky to fly in a chopper. It's a scary job, but someone's got to do it! But it's not always scary. In fact, it can get a bit boring. When there are no fires, the team does project work like repairing hiking trails and cleaning the forest.

Forest Firefighters - How's the $$$?

The money is pretty good cuz you only work five to six months of the year and can make anywhere from $18,000-36,000 US ($20,000-40,000 CDN).

Forest Firefighters - How Do I Become A Forest Firefighter?

Contact your local forestry office. In some areas, you may be able to send in an online application. You need to be in good physical condition and know basic first aid and CPR. It also helps if you have forestry-related experience.

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