Skip to Main Content

Wildland Firefighters


For as long as forests, grasslands, and other natural areas have existed, there have been wildland fires. These fires typically burned until they were extinguished by rain or the lack of flammable or combustible materials. As human populations grew, efforts were made to extinguish forest and grassland fires that threatened rural homesteads and towns or beautiful natural areas. It was not until the early 1900s in the United States that wildland firefighting efforts were organized on a national scale. In 1910, wildland fires destroyed more than five million acres of forests, as well as homes and businesses, in Arizona, Idaho, and Montana, and killed 80 people (the majority of whom were firefighters), according to This prompted the U.S. Congress to allocate more funds to the Forest Service for fire prevention and firefighting.

Despite the creation of wildland firefighting departments at the local, state, and federal levels over the last century, wildland fires continue to be a major issue in the United States due to global warming, poor wildland management, growing populations, and increasing home and other building construction in heavily forested and other natural areas. In 2020, there were 58,950 wildland fires that affected 10,122,336 acres in the United States, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center. Wildland fires can be extremely destructive, and skilled firefighters are needed to help protect property and lives.

Related Professions