Tuesday, April 9, 2013

G is for Goals

keep your eye on the goal

As a wildland firefighter I've had to fill out forms and charts with my career goals.

There are boxes for the "end goal" I want on a short term basis (6 mo - 1 yr) such as open a taskbook for PIO, or become a qualified Wildland Fire Investigator.

Then there are other boxes for how to get to those goals, which might be include things like, volunteer to help with Public Information Officer tasks, take the required training courses, or talk to the AFMO to get a taskbook initiated. Or it might include things like take the lead on more investigations, attend annual refresher trainings, or assist with the weeklong investigation training course.

Then there's a whole other section for long term goals (1 - 6 yrs or something) in which I put: Get a permanent (or career seasonal) job as a wildland firefighter or fire investigator. And this has a lot of steps. Because, first I need more fire experience and I need to be willing to move around to find an opening. I'll need more training, and more leadership experiences.

One of my goals (which I originally put on the short-term basis) has simply been to move to a higher pay level. Right now I'm a GS-4. Generally, in order to move to a higher pay level (other than finding someone who is willing to promote you) you've got to have at least one year or season working in the level just before it. But in order to become a GS-5 in wildland firefighting, you have to also have the FFT1/ICT5 (Firefighter Type 1/Incident Commander Type 5) qualifications on your redcard.

I've been a GS-4 for two fire seasons plus about 9 months on the off season. This summer will be my third summer as a GS-4, because even though I opened my taskbook for the FFT1/ICT5 quals in 2010, I didn't had much of a chance to work on them while my primary role was fire investigations.  

I was eager to get signed off as a lead firefighter, thinking that I understand the basic concepts and I know the protocols, but when I had a chance to roll with a hand crew as a FFT1 trainee, I realized that I simply don't have the fire experience I need to really know the game in a leadership role.

I'm still anxious to get signed off and to be able to move up in pay level, but I'm realizing that even after this season is finished, I might not have those quals for next season. It really sucks when I think about it in terms of money, but when I look at it from a fire perspective I think it's okay. I wouldn't want to be signed off for a role that I may not know how to fill properly--something that I generally think is different in fields other than firefighting where proper experience and know how can be life or death.

One of the reasons I really wanted this job as a hotshot was so I could get a lot of fire experience. And I know I will. I'll be working 16 hour days for several weeks at a time with little sleep, bad food, and probably no showers. My hope is that when I come out of this season, I will feel more comfortable in the role of wildland firefighter to the point that I can step confidently into a leadership position.

So, for now, my short term goals for this fire season are:
1. Make friends with everyone on my crew
2. Stay strong
3. See a lot of fire
4. Feel more confident as a wildland firefighter

And next season, wherever the wind chooses to blow me, my goal is to get qualified as FFT1, so that one of these days I can move up in pay status.

Do you have any goals for this summer? Or the next?

Fire Away!


  1. Continuing on with my classes for Associate in Science Business and then onto my Bachelors.

    I wish you luck WFL. Glad to see you are still posting along with the AtoZ challenge ~

    Decided to make it formal and follow you on GFC rather than RSS.


  2. Awesome post! Goal #1 survive my daughter's senior year. Goal #2 lose weight. Goal #3 See my new YA novel published and doing well this fall!

    Thank you for risking it all to save many! My brother and cousins are firefighters. I am proud and thankful.

    Jana @ A Novel Reality

  3. I like your theme! I looked back through your fee photos and will return for more.