Department of the Interior Employee Reviews

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Fun, outdoor workplace
Wildland fire firefighter (Former Employee) –  Vale, ORDecember 15, 2014
The majority of the duties performed by a wildland firefighter are outdoors. Experiencing elements of all four seasons is not uncommon. Depending upon where you are stationed, you may experience all four seasons within a few days. Most duties are related to prescribed burning, wildfire suppression, and fire preparedness. These duties include serving as a firefighter or engine operator during prescribed burning and wildfire suppression activities; conducting regular maintenance and repairs on various equipment such as fire engines, tractors, mowers, chain saws, and hand tools; serving as a crew member during fire break preparation which involves rock removal, mowing, trimming, tree and brush removal. You may have the potential to assist other refuges as well as other federal or state agencies throughout the nation with prescribed burning and wildfire suppression. When not involved with fire related activities, you may provide assistance in conducting natural resources related project work on behalf of the Fish and Wildlife Service's many refuges throughout the country.
PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS Each position is classed as an arduous fire position under the Interagency Wildfire Qualifications Standards adopted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. As a condition of employment, you must pass a pre-employment medical examination (which the Service will pay for). You will be required to achieve an arduous rating on the "Pack Test," which requires you to walk 3 miles with a 45 pound backpack in 45 minutes or less. The Pack Test is correlated to measures of aerobic and muscular fitness
  more... as well as performance in field tasks such as working with hand tools or carrying loads over rough terrain. The Pack Test will be administered when you first report for duty. If you cannot meet the required fitness score for the Pack Test when it is initially administered, you must retake the test within a two week period. In the event you are unable to meet and maintain the fitness requirements you may be terminated in accordance with applicable personnel regulations.
Most positions require working on an engine or hand crew. This will entail working with as few as two individuals to as many as 20 individuals. Whether it is two or 20, it is imperative that you can work well with others. Communication with others is a vital part of the success of the job. Primary contacts are generally other crew members, crew supervisors, and others in the wild land fire management organization.
Most seasonal positions work 40 hours per week, but part-time and "intermittent" openings may be an option occasionally. Some positions require non-standard work schedules such as four 10-hour days, ten days on and four days off, or other variations. Early and late season employment is on an as-needed basis, depending on weather, fire season, and budgets. A 40-hour week is not guaranteed during pre or post-season work.
EQUIPMENT REQUIRED If selected for a fire position you will be expected to wear protective and safety equipment. The government will supply most items - hard hat, leather gloves, fire resistant clothing, backpack, tent, etc. However, you will need to purchase a GOOD pair
of firefighting boots. You will be reimbursed up to a certain amount for the boots. It is a very good idea to break the boots in BEFORE the first day of work. Other than boots, you will only need to furnish your personal belongings.
OUTDOOR SKILLS Can you drive a truck with a manual transmission? Can you change a tire? Can you run a chainsaw? Can you pitch a tent? Can you tie half a dozen knots and sharpen a knife? Can you read a topographic map? Can you use a compass? Learning how to get by and make do in the outdoors comes in handy. If you don't currently have any outdoor skills - ARE YOU WILLING TO LEARN? If you are willing to learn the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is willing to train you. Any outdoor skills that you currently possess will be to your benefit.
HOUSING Many of the refuges in this region provide housing for their seasonal fire crews for a nominal fee. In some cases the location of the position may be remote and refuge housing may be the only option. On the other hand some refuges are located near small towns that have properties available to rent.
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Pros
free snacks, outdoor work, paid travel
Cons
short breaks, 16-hour+ work days at times, arduous labor
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New Orleans District is very unprofessional
BSEE Inspector (Former Employee) –  New Orleans District Jefferson, La.June 17, 2012
I worked for this agency out of the New Orleans District. It is VERY UNPROFESSIONAL. All of the newly hired inspectors were either friends or relatives of current management and senior inspectors. After the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico the bureau was justy renamed. Seems the same old politics still thrived though. One newly hired coworker who was disgruntled because of his G-07 position. Has been involved with underminding atleast 3 other newly hired inspectors besides myself. They speed to and from airbase back to office like it's a game to see who will arrive first. Putting the public as well as those in government van traveling with him in serious danger. Rules do not apply to all employees. But they are enforced if management does not like you for what ever reason. Discrimination by race amongst senior inspectors assigned to train the newly hired inexperienced. This applies to black and white inspectors. Very unorganized pertaining to transportation to offshore facilities and on the job trainingas well. There's no such itemized training system and standards to adhere to. If you are experienced in the oilfield watch out! You will be underminded by other inspectors that do not possess to knowledge that you may have aquired through hands on experience. Senior Inspectors are not receptive at all to input from newly hired Inspectors. I was confronted by the quote "Lead Inspectors Offspring" that was just hired in 2011 months prior to me. Hollering in my face in the seat in front of me in the work van. Actually turned in his seat to insult me using any means verbally. When  more... I took issue with his treatment of me. I was reprimanded by management while he did not incur any sort of consequences. I could go on and on. Glad I do not work their anymore  less
Pros
benefits, not as physically demanding than compared to previous jobs i've held, work schedule (home every night)
Cons
poor management, obscured expectations, very unprofessional co-workers. not all but most of the inspectors.
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Good
Foreman, Vegas Valley Handcrew (Current Employee) –  Las VegasApril 12, 2015
2015 Fire Season
Position; Supervisory Range Technician (Fire) GS-8
I was fortunate to accept a Career Seasonal Position with the Southern Nevada District of the BLM in Las Vegas. I am currently the Assistant Superintendent of the Vegas Valley Handcrew, which is one of the agency’s Veteran Crews. My primary duty is to provide fireline supervision during all stages of response to wildland fire emergencies. The fire environment is a dangerous and dynamic workplace I must provide leadership and direction to my subordinates. Together we recognize hazards and implement safety procedures to mitigate risk and complete work assignments. I supervise the handcrew in administrative capacities as well and must communicate and interact with internal and external personal to provide consistent operation of the crew. During incidents I have to evaluate conditions, determine the appropriate actions, and implement tactical decisions. The crew is a Type 2IA Handcrew and may function as an intact crew or in multiple modules. The position requires me to execute complex burn projects in a wide variety of fuel types and perform complex firing operations on wildfire incidents. Most of these duties include strenuous physical activity. The crew works to stabilize emergencies under adverse environmental conditions and over extended periods of time. Due to these workplace conditions it is important that the entire module practices excellent physical and mental preparedness. I am responsible for the physical training program of the crew and demand the highest performance of myself and the crew. My goal
  more... is to train, learn, and practice together to become the most productive and cohesive unit possible. I am excited for the challenges and opportunities that this position will present. I look forward to contributing to the crew’s and district’s futures.  less
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Bettles is a bust...
Maintenance Mechanic (Former Employee) –  Bettles NPSApril 28, 2015
Hired as Maintenace Mechanic WG7. Was placed on the job with no training. The Bettles NPS/USFW Joint Use Facility is staffed year-round by three rotational staff; an Interp. Ranger and two Maintenace workers of which I was one. Your supervisor is 250 miles south in Fairbanks and will not spend the time nor money to facilitate your on-boarding into DOI. I struggled to understand NPS policies, procedure and practices. Safety oversight and trading did not exist and the potential hazards at this facility are many and unmitigated due to lack of manpower and priority.

I struggled to communicate with my supervisor as he believed in a dictatorial management style. Rarely, if ever, listening to concerns, questions relating to work tasks and often forgetting phone conversations and verbal directions. You will be told you'll be given the "tools to succeed" but will find them lacking explanation, direction and training. Cover your A** with emails!

The long-term Bettles DOI employees will criticize you, manipulate information and misinform your supervisor of your work efforts because they are threatened by your presence. Don't expect to fit in.

You will enjoy the community if you are a down to earth and honest soul. Don't take your job along to community events. The hardest part of the job is the timekeeping and work order system and it will challenge your ability to do the job you are expected to perform. Be aware that upper management will not support you and side always with your supervisor. They are from the same NPS clan and will look out for each other.

Otherwise, a beautiful
  more... place to work and live.

It is REMOTE fly in fly out...only! I lodge, I small store, one good group of folks and a few who've been in the bush too long!
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Pros
It's dynamic and beautiful, the northern lights
Cons
The NPS management and the mosquitoes !!!
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Physically and mentally engaging workplace, coworkers were what made this job amazing.
River Ranger Intern (Current Employee) –  Fort Benton, MTSeptember 19, 2015
My days at work can be grouped into On The River and Off The River. Any days on the river were great. River patrols would be assigned every other week, ranging from 1 night - 3 nights of camping. The patrols are very labor intensive, paddling 7+ hours a day, cleaning camp sites, picking up trash out of the river, and setting up camp for the night, and then doing it all again the next day. The hard physical work is worth it if you're an outdoors person and love the thought of essentially getting paid to camp and canoe and socialize.

I've had to learn a lot about the history of Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument for work as well as surrounding area history in order for me to properly assist guests and visitors.

All of my co-workers are amazing and super friendly, nice, and accepting. I've never worked with such a wide spectrum of people from different backgrounds and walks of life all with an amazing happy, encouraging, caring attitude. Emphasis on caring, everyone was always making sure you had enough water to drink, or that you ate lunch, or that you're not over working yourself in the sun.

My boss and my two supervisors were all great guys, they all were very much into helping out as much as possible and always looked out for everyone. They were very accommodating when it came to the schedule and any and all emergencies that came up.

I have to say the most enjoyable part of the job was getting to go hiking after we were done with work for the day while we were on our river patrols.

The hardest part of the job would have to be the physical labor on
  more... hot days. Installing fencing, gates, hauling materials, landscape work.  less
Pros
camping, canoeing, kayaking, and hiking are part of this job!
Cons
Physically intensive work on very hot summer days.
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Term position
Land Surveyor (Former Employee) –  Santa Fe, NMMay 28, 2012
Term positions do not offer the longevity or security of a permanent position. I found this situation somewhat awkward and at times confusing. In general people were friendly and several co-workers were familiar from previous experience I had working with private contractors on related projects.

Term employees were expected to complete required training, attend meetings and have periodic evaluations like permanent employees but did not necessarily benefit from several of the benefits and/or protections offered to others.

I would rarely receive any feedback following performance reviews and toward the end of my term position would sometimes question whether I was receiving equal pay for similar types of work that permanent employees were performing.

I might have assumed (never assume anything) to find perhaps more in a government job; policies adhering to equal pay for equal work and possibly some sense of approach or recourse through Equal Employment Opportunity.

Management seemed top heavy, several reluctant to retire, mid-level employees could feel as though they had two or three supervisors which I think unnecessarily complicated the review process.
Pros
good pay, flexible schedules, pleasant work environment, friendly co-workers
Cons
top heavy management, conflicting supervision, inadequte technical solutions
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Nice working with children of Native American culture.
Special Education Teacher (Current Employee) –  Sells, AZJune 8, 2014
Since September of 2004, I have been employed as a Special Education teacher at Santa Rosa Day School operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, The best part of working there are the children. The Bureau of Indian affairs has many schools located in several states. The compensation and benefits are good. The job and life balance is different in that BIA schools are located in the middle of nowhere away from cities with amenities. There is a bit of culture shock to some who move onto a reservation to work there.I gave three stars to area of management because principals seem to come and go at these schools as does staff. Management can be better.
Job culture is different from public schools in that there is a lot of red tape when dealing with the government. Most oof my time is spent with paperwork and less with instruction. What I have learned is knowing I cannot complete everything in one day and I have learned to be flexible and I have learned that I have to improve my classroom management skills. I have learned to be aware of getting paperwork done on time per IEP deadlines. The most enjoyable part of the job is when my students thank me for trying my best to help them.
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The greatest job in the world, and a bureaucratic nightmare
Trail Crew Laborer (Former Employee) –  Wrangell St. Elias National Park and PreserveNovember 3, 2012
Working for a Trail Crew in Wrangell St. Elias National Park, I got the opportunity to live and work in one of the most gorgeous, untouched nature preserves in the world. A typical day included surveying the trail to see what we could do to improve it, then implementing these procedures and dealing with any setbacks as they arose. The same group of eight has been on Trail Crew for six years now, so we're a well-oiled machine that consistently outpaced time constraints we were given. The most enjoyable part of the job was living and working with the crew, camping for extended periods of time, and using new tools and equipment. The worst part was the endless paperwork that we had to slog through to accomplish the most basic task. I understand the reasoning behind having so much red tape - the government doesn't want to be held responsible in the case of an accident - but so much time is wasted each year taking courses to teach us things that are already second nature to us. It was disheartening at times to see our tax dollars put to use in inefficient ways.
Pros
worked outside, great co-workers, paid well, learned new skills
Cons
red tape, and red tape
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Great place to work outdoors, meet new people, learn about the great outdoors.
Grounds Maintenance Worker (Seasonal MVO) (Former Employee) –  Kettle Falls, WANovember 24, 2013
Working for the Park Service was a really enjoyable experience. Originally hired as a Student Hire while I attended college, I had the good fortune of working in the Maintenance division where I cleaned, maintained, and sometimes repaired various camp grounds, equipment, and facilities along Lake Roosevelt.

I learned a lot about the locals, their recreational preferences, and the local history and geography of the area which was full of rich stories and details.

I really enjoyed working with almost every co-worker I came into contact with, most were very friendly and knowledgeable, willing to share their experiences and knowledge freely with me.

I absolutely loved visiting each of the campgrounds and doing my best to make sure it was clean and looked appealing to the visitors. The hardest part of the job was definitely dealing with mosquitos and incredibly hot days when I needed to do a lot of weed eating and mowing. Overall, it was a great work experience.
Pros
working oudoors and seeing the different campgrounds.
Cons
doing hard work during really hot days.
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Fun environment to grow in knowledge and ethic.
Administrative Assistant (Former Employee) –  Phoenix, AZOctober 22, 2013
As my resume states, my daily issues were putting together physical contract files, preparing specific government documents, handling mail room duties, assisting the property manager by reallocating funds for fleet charges, and moving/reorganizing misc. boxes of maps, paper, and equipment.

Management in this organization counts towards both pros and cons. The state director, for example, was a very diligent and extremely hard working individual, but with as diverse as an organization as it was, bureaucracy often deterred items from being accomplished quickly. Government decisions sometimes made the job harder than it needed to be, but others would solve issues on the spot.

One key element that I learned during my tenure was patience. The ability to understand that the vastness that is the Federal Government needs time to resolve issues and that everything cannot be solved immediately.

The most enjoyable part of this occupation was my co-workers; a group of hard working and friendly people that made going to work everyday enjoyable.
Pros
friendly, adaptive
Cons
bureaucracy, cliques
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It's a great place to get your foot in the door.
Laborer GS-3 (Current Employee) –  Washington, DCOctober 1, 2015
Major Duties:

Completes a variety of tasks with hand tools requiring heavy physical effort, such as digging ditches in hard and compact ground and simple grading and sloping of turf areas/ Mows lawns using large, industrial, walking-type power mowers (e.g., one or more cutting decks, mechanical controls, and attachable implements) and/or simple riding-type mowers (e.g., a fixed or floating cutting deck(s) with limited adjustments), adjust blades and assures the machinery is well oiled and clean/ Operates powered snow blowers, brooms or blades/ Collects trash from park grounds, cleans restroom and office areas and other facilities as required/ Trims weeds and grass from around walls, walks, poles and trees using manual and power tools: required to pull weeds and grass by hand; clips shrubs, waters trees and shrubbery as necessary; rakes leaves and collects fallen branches, prune suckers off of trees; cuts vegetation using axe, handsaw and or pruners/ Operate power tillers to prepare flower beds and lawn areas for sod and bedding plants/ Assists with planting flowers.
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Good place for Interns but not for serious career motivated people
Biological Technician (Current Employee) –  MauiMay 4, 2015
I have worked as a manager/foreman for almost 11 years before accepting a job here but as I have been working here I have seen nothing but poor management, bad allocation of resources, poor work ethic, and poor treatment of those who actually work with reward and credit given to those who do little to nothing. My managers know little to nothing about their jobs or managing, which has taught me nothing useful for my future career in natural resources. I am one who believes strongly in team work but unlike the management at this job I can also see where doing every little thing as a team can actually slow things down and be unproductive. Co-workers are lazy and prefer to make those who are willing to work hard do all the work. The hardest part of the job is dealing with the very inexperienced employees who are not supervised and allowed to do what they want all day. However there is a good work to life ratio and a lot of outside and physical work, which I thoroughly enjoy.
Pros
Good work to life ratio
Cons
Inexperienced management and employees
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Overwhelmed and underwhelmed
Student Trainee (Former Employee) –  Portland, ORMay 29, 2013
While working at this job I began to look around at my coworkers and realized that they worked there simply because of the benefits. The work was mundane at best, frantic and overwhelming at worst. The workforce was aging and getting ready for retirement. Management was either inexperienced and overwhelmed ( giving little guidance or feedback), or rigid and inflexible. After several months I realized that this wasn't a career, but simply a job.
In my interview I was asked by management if I could prioritize. To this I responded with an anecdote about making Thanksgiving dinner. Making Thanksgiving dinner requires timing in order to create many different things (i.e. casseroles, pies, potatoes, and the turkey) using the limited resources provided by the average kitchen. I soon came to realize that this job was more like roasting 50 turkeys, all of which are top priority to someone. Management would prioritize my work, and then reprimand me for not focusing on the work that they told me to put on the back burner.
Pros
great benefits
Cons
disorganized and overworked staff
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Don't get comfortable
Park Ranger (Former Employee) –  Bushkill, PADecember 6, 2013
No job has given me a greater sense of satisfaction.

Having the opportunity to share one of the east coast's most beautiful and historically significant places with millions of annual visitors from all over the world was an experience I will always treasure. I came home every day with new stories, and a sense of pride in what I had accomplished.

Many of the people I worked with were deeply passionate about their work, loved the place, it's natural and cultural features, and the local denizens as fully and unabashedly as I did. Others of my colleagues and betters were bitter bureaucrats with little regard for the daily operations or future of the park or the agency. Still others were caught between these two extremes, and I can't imagine anything sadder than seeing such talented, dedicated people lose their passion and will in the face of an endless barrage of budget cuts and poor management decisions.
Pros
prettiest office in town, visitors are almost always happy to see you, and show up ready to be inspired
Cons
government has forsaken its people and parks
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Horrible
Scale Clerk (Former Employee) –  Bartlesville, OKOctober 2, 2015
I would not work for the Bartlesville Location;

1) Lack of training- Manager of site does not train you he can't even run the scale then blames you when something is wrong. I was trained by being showed once, given a book for Tooty Calls and told to memorize, for monthly and daily reports once again shown once given a paper that was un-readable and made no sense so I re-wrote it to make it semi understandable, they have trust issues so you will not get access to all reports or things you need to do your job, so you will be constantly asking someone to do that for you. You will be fired for Tooty I am not sure.. they never said the number but I got 3 in the upper 70 and one at 32 ( I do not take CC which I had no idea hence the no training so I got one bad score and told great on others yet fired for them??...hazardous trucks fyi they wont tell you but girl in office got her office a special air filter to keep it out but you don't....Until they can figure out how to train someone properly they wont be successful...you are set up to fail ...sadly.
Pros
None
Cons
Everything/No lunch only if site manager comes/no break
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Great place for single people if the park will let you have housing....
WG4 (Current Employee) –  Guadalupe Mountains National Park, TXJune 28, 2014
Because of oil fields booming... the cost of living has skyrocketed in one of the closest towns. The other closest town has minimal housing. IF the salary offered will allow you to have housing... or if you are offered park housing... not a bad place to work at all. Bear in mind that because it is so small... the culture is one of inclusion. Think good ol boy.... If you do not get park housing you will probably not hear much about park goings on. If you do hear about things.... and do not live in the park, you had better be able to afford the gas to drive back and forth.... or just be really good at making your own entertainment.

Make sure your salary is high enough so you can create a decent existence for yourself. Make sure you are happy with the position or are able to move up or on....
Pros
park housing maybe, fall colors, free wifi, gym in park, 80 miles of trails
Cons
movie theater, grocery store, etc... far, far away.... management is good ol boy. communication is often absent, leading to confusion and feelings of lack of accomplishment.
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Productive teamwork
Wildland Firefighter Type 2 (Former Employee) –  Ely, NVJanuary 10, 2013
This was a seasonal job during the summer that i have returned to the past two years. A typical day at work would begin with group exercise and stretching, then showers and briefing. The rest of the day we would clean, do yard work and fill our day with tasks waiting for a wild land fire. When we would get a fire we search on maps and gps' to find it and drive as close as we can to the fire most of the time having to hike into it. I was fully trained as a wild land fire fighter. I learned to use various tools and equipment, work as a member of a team to successfully extinguish wild land fires, maintain public lands, and to carry on good public relations. During my time at the job I gained the knowledge to successfully perform CPR, use an AED, and use basic first aid. Management and co-workers were the most enjoyable part of the job the hardest part of the job was the work that we would do on a fire sometimes hiking miles and miles to get to it.
Pros
getting to work with great people
Cons
sometimes very hard work
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A week at a time
Crew Supervisor (Former Employee) –  Ely, NVNovember 20, 2012
A typical job with the Bureau of Land Management was much different than any other work I have done. First of all the job was in conjuction with forest fires so employement was dependent on the severity and location of the fire. A typical job would last anywhere from five days to two weeks with no knowledge of when you would go to work or where until it happened so you must be avaliable at almost anytime. I ran a small crew of eight to ten people in which I ran either supplies, matience or inventory. Management was fairly organized with bi-daily meetings with supervisors. I learned valuable skills of organization invovling allocation of time, people and where skills where best suited. The hardest part was the down time in the day where not a lot of work was needed and trying to find something productive to do was hard to find. Pay was excellent but the hours consisted of 14 to 16 hour days.
Pros
good pay, free lunch
Cons
no set schedule or place of work, huge gaps between employment
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Nothing like good old fashioned labor for the USA
Maintenance Worker and Team Leader (Former Employee) –  Nags Head, NCDecember 14, 2013
The day starts at 7 AM. From there, you receive your list of duties for the day, gather tools, and head to the job site. You work until 12 or 1 and take lunch until... you finish your food and cool off a bit (no designated time). From there, you basically finish whatever you were doing and pack up to head back to base and update supervisors on progress. Never work a minute past 3 PM. I loved this job!

You will learn a lot about the area, history, geography, and using new tools.

Management are reasonable people: show progress, but never outshine your superiors!

Coworkers vary from really bright people to squirrel-brained, but none are incapable of doing their part.

Hardest part of the job: dealing with the mentality of Government workers as nobody seems to want to excel at their position to keep status-quo.

Most enjoyable: Feeling of accomplishment working outside and building or restoring structures.
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It was a really hard job to do with fun workers and alot of camping out.
Wild Land Firefighter (Former Employee) –  Idaho Falls, IDDecember 17, 2012
Then there was a fire going on i would drive to the fire with the fire engine and start to chain saw down trees, spray water,and dig fire line. I learned that working under stress slowly did get easier when it happened day after day. However, if it wasn't for the great management it wouldn't have been so easy. The co-workers that I had were all very educated and knew what they were doing as well. They helped me every step of the way to get to where I got this summer. The hardest part of the job was not gettting the chance to get home at night. When there was a fire we had to stay the night out on the fire line. What make it even harder is when we finally did get home we never could leave for then hour away from our station. However, gettting to travel alot and staying out in the wilderness was really fun. We got to see alot of things that most people only see in movies.
Pros
great pay
Cons
dont get a summer
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Overall rating

4.1
Based on 262 reviews
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