Alberta Wildland Firefighting Adventures – A rappel firefighter’s challenge

Jamie_SocialMedia_April2015-0628The Job Fighting wildfire is unlike any other experience. One day you could be sent to a massive campaign fire or to another province or country on an export – the next you could be sent on a search and rescue mission. I have fought wildfires that range in size from four hundred thousand hectares to ones the size of a campfire. Wildfires never act the same and therefore always pose a new challenge. In order to effectively fight these wildfires, we as firefighters need to be organized, efficient and knowledgeable. IMG_2851I am part of the Wildfire Rappel Program. This program recruits people with a broad spectrum of skills and traits, but there are two musts: you need to be fit and you need to be disciplined. The Rappel recruitment camp challenges the recruits mental stamina and physical capabilities.  Many find they come unprepared for this challenge. When I went through the process I was completely unaware of how difficult the camp was going to be and how much a one-month competitive tryout could have such a positive impact on my life.

The Program

Jamie_SocialMedia_April2015-6802The Rappel program is outfitted with 63 firefighters. These men and women are then divided into nine different crews made up of seven firefighters per crew. The program started in 1983 and embodies a train-to-replace mentality. Coming into my fourth year, I find this mentality one of the most rewarding aspects of the job. Sharing what I have learned from rappel mentors and personal experiences with new recruits, returnees, and even senior firefighters is remarkably gratifying. The program embodies a lifelong learning approach. Everyone brings a different skill set to the table. We teach each other and this creates unity and strength in the program. I love that everyone is willing to take on new challenges and expand upon their life skills. The People The men and women I work with have impacted me the most. I work with some of the toughest and most inspiring firefighters that Canada and North America have to offer. We look out for one another on and off the fire line. I have created lasting relationships thanks to this job with people across the globe from Canada, Germany, France, Australia, and New Zealand. fireWorking alongside other like-minded individuals has humbled me and pushed me to accomplish things I would have never imagined doing alone. I have found that working with other specialized crews such as Helitack crews, Unit crews, Firetack crews, and airtankers provide me with valuable experience and the tools to expand on my firefighting skill-set. Throughout this season I will be sharing what my fellow firefighters and I do and experience throughout the fire season. Stay tuned for an exciting year and an unforgettable adventure. Until next time, – Jamie

7 thoughts on “Alberta Wildland Firefighting Adventures – A rappel firefighter’s challenge

  1. Hi I’m a 28 year old firefighter also I love helicopters and putting out flames I’m a hard worker and one day I hope to get out these yellow coveralls and be in yellow shirt green pants and running the show . Ive been fighting fire for 6 years as a type 2 but i would like to move up the ladder and do my best as a life saver as a firefighter . All my experiences embarked on or went there were one hell of a ride and in being a wildland firefighter. U never know what ur gunna get or go or who ur gunna meet and I’m proud to make a diffrence in my part of Alberta and for my country . Thank you . srd you rule .

  2. Can someone send me a larger image of Vince’s plaque? I remember showing up for my first day of training and having Clint Larson walk us over to Harro van Bockel’s memorial. It’s a good reminder that we are playing for keeps out there, but also a good reminder that you are part of a larger family. Keep looking out for one another.

  3. Pingback: Alberta Wildland Firefighting Adventures – On the ground at the Lodgepole wildfire | Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development

  4. Pingback: Alberta Wildland Firefighting Adventures – So you wanna be a wildland firefighter, huh? | Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development

  5. Pingback: Calgary Is Awesome | Wild Jobs Part Three: Wildland Firefighter

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