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Becoming a wildland firefighter takes work

Smoke billows from the Mammoth Creek wildfire burning near Cedar City, Utah.

Smoke billows from the Mammoth Creek wildfire burning near Cedar City, Utah. (U.S. Forest Service)

Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — It takes a lot of hard work to become a certified wildland firefighter.

So much so that many individuals don't make it through one year.

"Some people don't even last one season because it's just not for them," said Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands spokesman Jason Curry to KSL NewsRadio's Paul Nelson.

Wildland firefighters: The right stuff

In addition to taking classes, a potential wildland firefighter must pass a physical examination, for which the requirements can differ from agency to agency. However, Curry said every agency includes one requirement for all recruits across the board.

"There is a 45-pound load on the individual," he said. "And they have to be able to go 3 miles in under 45 minutes."

And if a new trainee fails this portion of the examination, Curry said that is not necessarily the end of the road.

"Maybe you got an injury, maybe you got a chronic joint problem so that you can't," he said. "But even those folks try to figure out some way to stay close to fire."

Curry said because of the drought, fires are acting differently and are more dangerous. Seasoned firefighters remind new recruits to play it safe and to take notes on how tired they have become.

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Mark Jones


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