I’m hoping this is an alright place to post this. I have questions about being a new firefighter in general, being a female firefighter, fitness, and boots. I’ll start with a little “about me,” which you can definitely feel free to skip if you like. I’d really appreciate any advice, comments, answers, tips, criticisms… anything! to any part of this post.
So, about me. I was raised in San Diego, CA where I was mostly a sporty/tomboy city girl but spent a good amount of time camping in places like Yosemite, Zion and Yellowstone. My family did a lot of hiking and camping, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying I was “raised in the mountains.” I went to college at UC Berkeley, studied abroad for a year in Brazil, moved back to San Diego, and then followed some family members out to Dolores, Co (small town near Durango, Co). Out here, I’ve worked in restaurants for about a year and decided I needed a drastically different job in order to maintain my sanity. A friend recommended applying for wildland fire jobs, which really sparked my interest. I started applying and investing a great deal of energy into learning about what wildland firefighting entails (though I still know very little). I ended up getting hired onto an engine crew for the ’15 summer season and I start in April. I’ll be taking S130/190 classes next week and just bought some boots. Although I’ve been doing some research and I’ll be meeting with a female friend who’s been in the field for a few years now, I’d LOVE it if some seasoned firefighters could give me any advice they have for rookies.
The answers to some of these questions may seem obvious and I may already know them myself, but I’m going to ask them anyway so please don’t judge.
What can I expect as far as hours on an engine crew during and not during fires?
What are some specific differences between work on an engine crew and work on other crews like hand crews?
Working for the Forest Service as a GS03 level employee, what can I expect as far as paycheck? How often will I get paid?
What should I expect as far as meals during and not during fires? Should I provide my own?
Will I get advance notice when leaving for a fire? Should I be ready and packed beforehand?
Should I learn to use the equipment before I start in April? What equipment specifically should I familiarize myself with?
I know how to camp, but haven’t pitched a tent or anything like that in a long time. Will I be expected to have these kinds of camping skills?
I was told I’d be provided all the equipment I’ll need other than boots, but should I have specific clothing ready other than socks?
Should I be CPR/First Aid certified?
Besides the pack test, are there any fitness requirements or expectations? I can run many miles at 10min/mile or one mile at about 8.5min/mile… Should I be faster? I’m a strong girl but should I be able to do a certain amount of pushups, etc?
I am going to have some Nicks custom made but don’t have time to wait for them to arrive and break them in before April so I bought some Cosmas Hercules V2 for in the meantime. Besides La Sportivas these were the only boots I could find in my size in this area, and I know La Sportivas are known to delaminate. The Cosmas are known to fall apart but they fit me much better. Is there anything I can do to reinforce the seams or to waterproof my Cosmas?
In all the boots I tried on, whether they were the right size or not, my ankle felt very weak/sore. This ankle was broken when I was 14 – spiral fracture that I had surgery on and pins put in. It never feels weak otherwise; I think the height of the fire boots is what’s causing the weakness. Any tips for support??
I’m not sure how many women will be in my crew, but what should I expect as a female?
Female-specific: I use a cup instead of tampons. During fires, is this an ok method or should I switch to tampons/pads?
Female specific: I can pee in nature just fine, but with all the gear will it be a hassle to pop a squat when I need to?
Thanks in advance!!!!