Career Services

17675 South Muskogee Ave Tahlequah, OK 74464


The Wildland Fire Program provides a valuable service in the suppression of wildfires across the country. Since 1988, Cherokee Nation’s Wildland Fire Program has earned an outstanding reputation and the respect of wildland management agencies throughout the United States.

As wildland fire personnel, we are dedicated to our core purpose: To protect human life, property, and the environment from the destructive nature of wild fires. To do this safely, we rely on individuals with a strong sense of duty, respect, and integrity. 

Administratively Determined (AD) Fire Program

Administratively Determined (Emergency Hire) or AD firefighters make up the majority of Cherokee Nation’s Firefighting force. As AD’s, they are called upon in an as-needed basis. This is not regular employment but strictly on-call throughout the fire season each year. These firefighters may be called into action to protect Cherokee lands during periods of intense fire activity locally or they can travel across the country to wildfires as far away as Florida, Georgia, Washington, or California. Our firefighters have fought blazes in over half of the United States. They can expect most assignments between June and October.

To Apply

The Tribal Employment Rights Office (TERO) of the Cherokee Nation accepts applications for the Cherokee Nation Firefighter Program. The application is available at the Wildland Fire Program Office, in Southgate Building G on Southgate Drive, in Tahlequah, OK. Due to the emergency / first responder nature of our job we are not always on-site. Applications are available online or can be request by calling our offices at 918-453-5697.

We take applications year-round. However, out-of-state fire season generally lasts from June until October. It is important to return applications early to ensure that the required training, medical physical, and pack test can be completed before the beginning of the next fire season.

Conditions on the Ground: What to Expect

Fighting fires in the wildland environment is not for everyone. As the name implies, our work takes place in remote, undeveloped locations. Camping out and eating sack lunches and MREs can be expected. Showers, restroom, cell phone service, electricity, laundry service, and other modern luxuries are, in general, extremely limited or completely unavailable. Our wildland firefighters often work 16 hour days of intense manual labor for 14+ straight days without break. Our AD firefighter applicants must be willing to travel for up to 21 days on out-of-state assignments in these conditions.

Protective Gear and Other Supplies

Upon successful acceptance into the Wildland Fire Program, you will be issued green Nomex Pants and a yellow Nomex Shirt (Greens and Yellows) along with a hard helmet, leather gloves, and line pack with a fire shelter. All of these will remain at our facility in Tahlequah at all times, with the exception of your greens and yellows. These are your responsibility and shall be returned to the Cherokee Nation if/when your tenure as an AD firefighter ends.

  • You are required to provide yourself with fire boots that comply with the NFPA 1977 Standard for Protective Clothing and Equipment for Wildland Fire Fighting and CANNOT work without them.
    You will be expected to provide all other clothing and hygienic needs while out on a fire assignment as well as providing your own tent and sleeping bag. Food will only be provided for out-of-state assignments.

To Become an AD Firefighter, You Must:

  1. Fill out and return the application form. Include supporting documentation (i.e., photocopy of driver’s license or state issued I.D., proof of citizenship in a Federally recognized tribe, and social security card).
  2. Successfully complete the Wildland Firefighter Rookie Training consisting of S-130 Firefighter Training, L-180 Human Factors in the Wildland Fire Service, and S-190 Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior.
    1. In person training is done locally in Tahlequah, when applicant numbers warrant a class. The rookie course consists of a five day, 40 hour week with 32 hours in class and 8 hours of field training. It is free of charge to applicants.
    2. Self-directed online blended versions of these courses are free and available through the National Fire Academy (NFA). NOTE: These courses do not offer the experiential knowledge that comes from learning from an live instructor and many students who have gone this route have felt they would have been better prepared attending a traditional class. If the applicant chooses to follow the online course method, they must also complete an in-person instructor led field day to complete their training. Print copies of all certificates given for completed courses and bring them with you on your assigned field day.
  3. Successfully Complete FEMA IS-100.c Introduction to the Incident Command System (ICS 100) and IS-700.b An Introduction to the National Incident Management System. Before taking the courses, however, the student must register for an FEMA Student Identification Number (SID) or they will not be able to take the final examination.
  4. Successfully pass a complete medical physical clearing the applicant for duty. This will be scheduled after successful completion of all training. There will be no cost to the applicant.
  5. Successfully complete the Arduous Work Capacity Test (Pack Test).
    1. The Pack Test consists of walking 3 miles in 45 minutes with a 45 pound weighted vest on. Wildland Firefighters must conform to rigorous fitness standards. Much of the work we do calls for -above average endurance and conditioning. The Work Capacity Test is used to determine an individual is physically able to perform the duties of wildland firefighting.
    2. This test must be completed annually, along with a refresher course, before an Incident Qualification Card (Red Card) can be issued.


Pay for AD follows the Department of Interior AD pay plan for the current year. Basic firefighters (FFT2 or Type 2 Firefighters) are paid at the AD-C rate. This is a flat rate and no overtime, hazard pay, benefits, or other additional compensation is implied or given.