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Glossary of Terms

Fire Shelter: a safety device of last resort used by wildland firefighters when trapped by wildfires.   Constructed with layers of aluminum foil, woven silica and fiberglass.


Fire Season: the time of year when wildfires are most likely to happen.  Time and duration vary by location.


General Schedule (GS) Pay Scale: the pay level for the job, 1 being the lowest and 15 highest. The higher the grade level, the higher the pay.

Each General Schedule (GS) grade has 10 steps. Step increases are periodic increases in a GS employee's rate of basic pay from one step to the next higher step of that grade.

In The Black: an area that has been burned over and contains little, if any, unburned fuel remaining.  The black is a designated (relatively) safe area during a fire.

Helibase: also known as 'Helispot', is a designated area in which a helicopter lands and takes off.

Microburst: a sudden, powerful, localized air current (especially a downdraft)


Nomex: an incredibly durable and inherently flame-resistant meta-aramid material developed in the early 1960s.

Pulaski: a tool with the head of an axe on one side, and an adze-shaped hoe on the other.

Red Card: also called Incident Qualification Card, certifies that a person is qualified to do the required job when arriving on an incident.

Uncontrolled Fire: Any fire which threatens to destroy life, property, or natural resources.


For a more comprehensive list of wildland firefighting terms, click Here

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