About Fire Sciences
A Unique Challenge
Wildland fire has offered exciting and lucrative summer job opportunities to generations of firefighters. For many of us, seasonal firefighting is the source of our most memorable work experiences. The significant and growing role of fire within ecosystems, the application of sophisticated tools and technology in fire management, and the increasing public scrutiny of wildland fire make for dynamic opportunities to develop productive careers.
However, negotiating career pathways in fire management can be challenging because students are expected to gain four-year degrees in forestry, biology, or natural resources while simultaneously developing requisite field skills through fire training and experience. Obtaining both requires organization, motivation, knowledge, and hard work. FCFC faculty and staff help students build competitive fire portfolios and gain employment advantages through grounded academic and professional advising.
The Missoula Fire Network
Wildland fires are a critical component of the landscapes surrounding the Missoula area, and have shaped wildland fire history and policy for much of the past century. As a result, Missoula is a center for fire learning, research, training, and technology development and the abundance of wildfire-based activities near Missoula provide unparalleled work and training opportunities for motivated students.
With various agencies, research labs, hotshot crews, helitack, engines, smokejumpers, and local and regional dispatch centers located in and near Missoula, there are many opportunities for students to pursue their interests in wildland fire. The National Center for Landscape Fire Analysis in the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation works with students and land managers to develop technology, applications, and research to aid fire management. The Southwest Montana Wildland Fire Training Center offers a full training curriculum on the UM campus and UM's College of Technology hosts a two-year structural fire and rescue program.
The U.S. Forest Service Fire Sciences Laboratory is located in Missoula, as is the Missoula Technology Development Center, the Northern Rockies Coordination Center, a Regional Office (Region 1), a Forest Supervisor’s Office (Lolo), and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute. The Montana Department of Natural Resources maintains its Forestry Division Headquarters and Southwestern Land Office in Missoula, and the city hosts a BLM Field Office, and numerous fire-related NGOs and private companies. These entities are the basis for numerous formal and informal networks that support and are supported by the Fire Sciences & Management program at UM.