Enhanced wildland firefighter recruitment underway
The Province is opening the door for more wildland firefighters with in-depth knowledge of local terrain to join the service.
Aligned with feedback from the Premier’s expert task force on emergencies, the improvements to the BC Wildfire Service’s hiring process have resulted in more than 1,000 firefighter applicants, with another three months of hiring to go. Interested applicants can learn more about opportunities at: https://gov.bc.ca/WildfireFighters
“Climate change causes hotter and longer fire seasons, so the demand for skilled firefighters with local knowledge has never been higher,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests.
“By expanding our hiring process to bring in more highly trained professionals, especially in rural communities, we will be more effective at responding to wildfires when and where they happen.”
Aligned with the work of the Premier’s expert task force on emergencies, a series of enhancements have been made to strengthen pathways for participation in wildfire response, specifically for applicants in rural and remote communities. This work includes expanding First Nations bootcamps, extending the hiring period for new recruits and encouraging applicants to indicate work location preference.
“People living in First Nations, rural and remote communities bear a disproportionate impact from the rising threat of wildfires,” said Wayne Schnitzler, task force member and executive director of First Nations’ Emergency Services Society.
“I’m pleased to see the Province is boosting recruitment initiatives, including expanding First Nations bootcamps as recommended by the Premier’s expert task force on emergencies. These initiatives break down barriers and pave the way for increased participation of Indigenous peoples as wildland firefighters.”
A dedicated training and recruitment model for First Nations communities is being expanded. After a successful pilot in the Cariboo Fire Centre, the First Nations bootcamp will also be offered in the Coastal Fire Centre in spring 2024.
These dedicated sessions address needs heard from communities, build local capacity, strengthen relationships between the local First Nation and fire centre, and improve response to wildfires.
Learnings from First Nations bootcamps will be adopted into the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) core curriculum and serve as a model for other First Nations interested in augmenting their response capacity. Additionally, the use of Indigenous initial-response crews is being expanded.
“It’s exciting to see the real-time changes and improvements,” said Cliff Chapman, director of provincial operations for BC Wildfire Service.
“The people in this organization are passionate and driven to make improvements in both what we do and how we do it. I’d like to particularly acknowledge the teams who have put in the time to pilot these initiatives and undertake all of these interviews. People are at the heart of what we do and I can’t wait to meet the new recruits joining the BC Wildfire Service team.”
This year, the BC Wildfire Service has shifted to longer, rolling application model over six months. This has allowed local teams to begin interviews earlier than ever, with more than 500 interviews for 2024 positions already complete.
People who are interested in learning more about becoming a BC Wildfire Service crew member may apply until March 31, 2024. Additionally, applicants are invited to indicate their first, second and third choice of work location from the outset. For more information, visit: https://gov.bc.ca/WildfireFighters
“We are acting on lessons learned from the 2023 hazard season and opening the door even wider to local recruitment and response capacity across the province,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness.
“BC Wildfire Service crew members don’t only fight fires, they are also mobilized to help respond to other emergencies like floods and more. Ensuring we have a strong complement of BCWS crew members filled with local talent across the province means we can better protect people and support communities from whatever emergencies come our way.”
The Ministry of Forests and Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness continue to work directly with the Premier’s expert task force on emergencies to incorporate real-time feedback into practice, as they prepare for the 2024 wildfire season.
The Province is also holding engagement sessions with local governments, First Nations, front-line workers and key industries that experienced challenges during the 2023 wildfire season.
- To apply or learn more about becoming a BC Wildfire Service crew member, visit: https://gov.bc.ca/WildfireFighters