Seasonal firefighter recruitment in Arizona

Shane Baca
Engine Captain Shane Baca recruits firefighters at a fire science class. Photo: WMIcentral

Shane Baca, an Engine Captain for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, recently made a presentation at the Jake Flake Emergency Training Center in Taylor, Arizona, a part of Northland Pioneer College. Speaking to the fire science students at a basic training class, Mr. Baca focused on hiring into the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP).

Here are some excerpts from an article at

WHITE MOUNTAINS – If you are considering seasonal work fighting forest fires in the White Mountains, you might want to know about the ‘pack test.’ It is the only physical fitness test administered by the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest Service in its seasonal hiring process and simply requires you to walk three miles in 45 minutes or less. Oh, you also have to be carrying a 45-pound pack while you do it.

“The first 15 minutes are the hardest,” says Jarred MacArthur. “After that, you just go numb.” MacArthur, a student with the Northland Pioneer College Fire Science Program, knows well. He has been a seasonal firefighter for the Forest Service the past three summers. MacArthur was taking part in a Forest Service seasonal employee recruitment presentation staged recently at the Jake Flake Emergency Training Center in Taylor, site of the fire science training courses.

Shane Baca, wildland fire engine captain for the Lakeside District of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, was the lead speaker at the session, addressing the morning session of the FRS basic training class.

Baca does not sugarcoat the demands of the job. He cautions the students that, while the pay can be good, it’s not easy work. “The physical demands are heavy and you have to have a tough mental attitude. There’s no room for mediocrity.”

MacArthur also commented on the physical fitness required of the seasonal workers, “If you aren’t fit, you can bring down a whole crew; you become a hazard.”

Both agreed that the excitement and adrenaline rush that accompany fighting fires can also be matched by the tedious nature of required work when there are no fires to fight: equipment maintenance, construction projects, wood chipping, readiness drills, and exercising to stay fit.

Following the presentation, Bill Solomon, NPC fire science instructor for the class, commended Baca for his sessions saying he believes there have been nearly 30 hires for seasonal wildland work as a result of these talks.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.