Firefighters have been heroes for generations. But with the trend to a warmer, hotter climate over the past decade they've become increasingly important to the safety of our rural communities.

And if you've ever entertained the idea of joining the ranks of wildland firefighters, this spring will allow joining the ranks of fire crews in jobs that can be very hard but are also very rewarding.

The Bitterroot National Forest is looking for entry-level, permanent firefighters. And this coming week will be the opportunity to apply.

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What's involved

Starting on Monday, March 4th, through the 15th, Bitterroot National Forest will be accepting applications for new wildland firefighters. These are GS-3/4 positions, which means they are entry-level, but permanent positions with the U.S. Forest Service.

That means you'll have paid training and travel, competitive pay which includes overtime and hazard pay, and full federal benefits like medical coverage and retirement. The jobs also provide the experience for firefighters to begin a long-term career and work up to higher-level positions in fire management.

Entry level positions

The openings don't require any prior experience, which is a change. In the past, permanent firefighter jobs required you to start as a temporary seasonal firefighter or dispatcher. It also offers the chance for anyone who may have missed earlier application deadlines or didn't hear back from an earlier application.

Two opportunities

BNF will host an in-person hiring event at the Supervisor's Office at 1801 North First Street, on the north side of Hamilton March 12th from noon to 7 p.m. That's a chance to meet directly with recruiters, and other veteran firefighters to learn more about the job and apply.

Veteran firefighters will also attend the Ravalli County Career Fair at Hamilton High School on March 13th.

It's not necessary to attend an in-person event to apply, but it is highly encouraged. For additional information contact Matt Young, Deputy Fire Staff Officer at 406-493-4391 or via email or through the BNF website.

Looking Back at One of Montana's Most Explosive Fires

The 2013 Lolo Creek Fire burned within 6 miles of Missoula

Gallery Credit: Dennis Bragg