Early detection is essential to stopping wildfires before they get big, and lookout observers are dedicated to the task. A unique group, observers spend months during fire season living and working on top of mountains and on the highest ground throughout the forest.
They’ve got one goal: early detection and accurate reporting of all smoke and fire within the lookout’s visible area. From reporting lightning strikes and monitoring permitted burning to spotting abandoned campfires, lookout observers have their eyes peeled, working to protect Alberta from wildfires.
Getting a bird’s eye view of Alberta’s beautiful back-country is a great perk, but long-time observer Iris says the best part of her job is the thrill of spotting a smoke and seeing crews sent in to fight the fire.
Interested? Here’s how to know if the position is right for you:
- Climbing a 30 metre tower several times a day and withstanding the extreme conditions of a mountain lookout is not for the faint of heart, so observers should be in excellent physical and mental health. (Don’t worry, though – we’ll train you how to use the ladder safely.)
- Lookout observers must also have excellent eyesight – each lookout is responsible for an area roughly seven and a half times the area of Edmonton.
- Observers must be self-reliant, able to learn quickly and work without supervision.
- In addition to lookout duties, observers also maintain the buildings and facilities. If you visit any of the 127 lookout sites across the Forest Protection Area, you’ll notice each site is kept neat, clean and orderly.
- Although observers mainly work alone, they’re not isolated, and safety is fundamental. Observers check-in with the local wildfire office by radio at least three times per day and maintain a buddy system with another observer.
If you think this position might be right for you, why not give it a shot? You’ll be in good company: lookout observers love their job so much almost 80 per cent return every year.
Click here to learn more and apply – the deadline is January 15th 2014.
Lookout observers are an essential part of Alberta’s wildfire management team. Even if you don’t think joining the team is right for you, you can support their efforts by calling 310-FIRE to report wildfires.