Fire Protection Careers

A career in fire protection offers the opportunity to perform challenging and exciting work while serving and safeguarding the people and protecting the property and resources of California. Fire protection employees respond to all-hazards and all-risk emergency incidents including wildland fires, structure fires, law enforcement, medical emergencies, vehicle accidents, hazardous material spills, and other natural disasters.  In addition, fire protection personnel implement prescribed fire, fuel reduction, and residential defensible space inspections across the landscape. CAL FIRE provides these efforts through its professional leadership, incident command, incident management, and response structure.


You may choose to begin your fire protection career as a Fire Fighter I. Fire Fighter I is a seasonal, temporary classification. Employment typically begins in the spring and lasts an average of six months. As a member of an engine crew, a Fire Fighter I fights fires using a variety of firefighting equipment, repairs equipment, and responds to other emergency situations; performs heavy physical work and assists others with general housekeeping. The hiring process for these temporary positions may include an oral interview.

Season Firefighter I Hiring


Persons selected for employment as a Fire Fighter II are placed in a three-year apprenticeship program. A Fire Fighter II performs the full-range of firefighting duties including responding to alarms as a member of an engine crew on such fire apparatus as engines or water tenders, entering burning areas and structures with charged hose lines, and ventilating buildings. A Fire Fighter II assists in the training of seasonal and volunteer fire fighters and may assist in making fire prevention inspections. Fire Fighters II assist in building, grounds, and equipment maintenance and repair.


In addition to the duties above, act as a member of a paramedic team, to perform
paramedic duties in emergency medical situations.

To see if you qualify, click here. (Paramedic)
To view open positions with CAL FIRE for this classification, click here. (Paramedic)


A Fire Apparatus Engineer drives and operates fire apparatus such as engines, water tenders, rescue squads, and aerial trucks in connection with extinguishing wild land, structural or other fires, and in fire prevention and rescue work; performs medical aid duties; performs building, grounds, and equipment maintenance; makes fire code inspections; investigates fire causes; presents fire prevention programs to the public; and keeps records and prepares reports. A Fire Apparatus Engineer leads a crew and may act as Fire Captain relief.


In addition to the duties above, act as part of a paramedic team, to perform
paramedic duties in emergency medical situations; and to do other related work.

To see if you qualify, click here. (Paramedic)
To view open positions with CAL FIRE for this classification, click here. (Paramedic)


Heavy Fire Equipment Operators are trained in firefighting and operating heavy equipment used in wildland fire control, forest protection, and conservation project work. Heavy Fire Equipment Operators operate and perform maintenance and repair work on vehicles and heavy equipment such as bulldozers, motor-graders, heavy duty transports, and trucks. Operating heavy equipment is required on steep, narrow mountain roads, under hazardous conditions, on the fire line, road construction, and other forestry construction projects.

To see if you qualify, click here.
To view open positions with CAL FIRE for this classification, click here.


It takes employees in many different occupations to complete the fire protection team. Heavy Equipment Mechanics and Forestry Equipment Managers ensure that equipment is maintained in a state of readiness. Fire Prevention Assistants and Fire Prevention Specialists work with the public and local governments in the areas of information, inspection, education, engineering, and law enforcement. These are just some of the challenging opportunities available with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.


There are many applicants for fire protection positions. If you are interested in this career field, you may want to consider activities that may increase your competitiveness:

  • Obtain a good educational foundation in reading, writing and mathematics.
  • Consider team sports, scouting, and R.O.P. (firefighting programs).
  • Although not required, you may be more competitive if you have taken some of these college classes: First Responder, Emergency Medical Technician, Wildland Fire Control, Introduction to Fire Technology, Fire Science, or Fire Officer classes (Fire Command, Fire Investigation, Fire Prevention, Fire Instructor, Fire Management).
  • In addition to taking specialized college classes, take general education classes to improve your skills, and take business or related courses to enhance your competitiveness for management positions.
  • Participate in aerobic conditioning and weight training.
  • Become a volunteer firefighter to help you decide if this is the career for you, and to give you job-related experience.


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For more information on salary and benefits for State of California employees, please visit the California Department of Human Resources website. For details regarding the Limited Examination and Appointment Program (LEAP) please visit the Cal Careers website.

For questions about the exam process, job application process, or about career opportunities with CAL FIRE, email our Recruitment Unit at or call our office at (916) 445-7801.

VETERANS: Please visit our Returning Veterans; Enlisting Their Skills (R.V.E.T.S.) page to explore a variety of employment options and educational opportunities for service with CAL FIRE.

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