Air Force Fire Fighter full width

Protect lives and equipment as you lead the fire and rescue services at our airfields and bases.

  • Service
    Air Force
  • Specialisation
    Operational Support
  • Location
    Ohakea, Whenuapai, Woodbourne
  • Starting Trade Training
Air Force Fire Fighter landscape
AF Fire Fighters 20210317

About the role

As an Aviation Rescue Firefighter, you will be responsible for maintaining operations in the base Fire Flights. These are manned 24 hours a day, 365 days a year: providing an immediate incident response capability to a defence area.

Firefighting is a challenging job, both physically and mentally. You will be required to maintain a high level of fitness to conduct rescue and firefighting operations. You will conduct regular operational skills maintenance, designed to give you the knowledge to make the right decisions in dangerous situations.

Camaraderie that is second to none; trust and teamwork are values held high in the trade.

All Fire Flights work a 6 day operational shift set: a day shift, a 24 hour shift, and a night shift followed by 3 rostered days off.

To be part of the team we don’t expect you to be the best, but to give your best. It is as a team that we will be the best.

Job on base

Your duties will range from the day-to-day maintenance and servicing of all rescue and firefighting equipment, physical training, continuation training of your rescue and firefighting competencies to fire awareness training for base personnel.

Air Force Firefighters provide support for operational aircraft on and off the airfield. You will be ready to respond to a range of emergency incidents from aircraft, structural and rural rescue and firefighting operations through to humanitarian aid.

Further opportunities exist for you to work alongside NZ Army firefighters both on deployment and through a tour of duty. As you progress there are opportunities for you to carry out training and courses with Fire and Emergency NZ.

Job on deployment

While on deployment as a Firefighter you will undertake a full range of trade skills from maintaining airfield coverage, fire protection within a deployed camp or support to rural fires nationally and internationally, working alongside Fire and Emergency NZ. This could be part of a Coalition team or working alongside other host nation firefighters. Support to the community is important, so you can be called upon to assist the local fire brigades at emergency incidents.

Any opportunity we get, we are out there training. Fighting fires, practicing on the aircraft helps builds that team work and comradeship.

Career progression and training

Basic Training

Job Training

Ongoing Training

Specialist Training

Career progression

Upon successful enlistment into the Air Force you’ll be posted to RNZAF Base Woodbourne (near Blenheim). Here you’ll do 12 weeks of basic military training to find out if you’ve got what it takes to be in the Air force, and learn various subjects including:

  • Organisation and Administration
  • RNZAF Customs and Protocol
  • Drill and Parades
  • Military Field Skills and Weapon Training
  • First Aid, and Search and Rescue Techniques
  • Physical Fitness


The second phase of your training is a 12 week Fire Fighter Basic course at the Joint Services Fire School, Linton Military camp, near Palmerston North, that covers various aspects of rescue and firefighting including:

  • Aircraft
  • Structural
  • Rural
  • Hazardous substance materials
  • Medical Co Responder
  • Urban Search and Rescue
  • Extrication techniques (motor vehicle accidents)

On graduating you will be awarded an NZQA national certificate Level 2 in Urban and Vegetation with further OJT to gain NZQA national certificate Level 2 in Aviation.

After graduating you will be posted to an Air Force base for 18 to 24 months for more consolidation and on the job training.

On successful completion of the Fire Fighter Basic course you will be required to complete induction and consolidation log books and attend a series of driving courses that include the 4 wheel drive light operators course, gain a Class 2 full driving licence, the 4 wheel drive heavy operators course, emergency response drivers course, pump operators course and airfield driving requirements.

These courses enable you to drive the Structural Fire Appliances and Rural Fire Applicances to emergency incidents.

You will also spend time working on an Air Force base Fire Flight, receiving on the job training (OJT) in preparation for your Fire Fighter Intermediate course.

After holding your Class 2 licence for a period, you will undergo additional OJT and assessing to achieve a Class 4 full licence, enabling you to drive the Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting vehicles to emergency incidents.



After this period you will return to the Joint Services Fire School for your intermediate trade training. This lasts for seven weeks and covers further aspects of your basic training plus:

  • Lead a fire crew at an emergency incident
  • Lead a rural crew as a crew leader
  • Bulk fuel installation firefighting
  • Liquid, Petroleum and Gas fires
  • Deliver fire safety awareness training

On graduating you will be awarded an NZQA national certificate Level 3 in Urban and Vegetation with further OJT to gain NZQA national certificate Level 3 in Aviation.

Completing this course makes you a senior fire fighter being able to lead and supervise, which opens doors to a full range of rescue and firefighting duties in the Air Force.


Eighteen months after qualifying as a senior fire fighter you will be able to attend a Fire Command and Control Junior course. This four week course covers:

  • Command & control an initial emergency incidents
  • Fire safety and evacuation of building regulations

On graduating you will be awarded an NZQA national certificate Level 4 in Urban and Vegetation with further OJT to gain NZQA national certificate Level 4 in Aviation


After 24 months and further experience, you will then be eligible to complete the Fire Command and Control Senior course. This three week course covers trade-specific subjects such as:

  • Command and control of multi-agency incidents
  • Legislation and policy within the Defence Force

Career progression exists from Leading Aircraftsman through to Warrant Officer.

Ohakea Ops Squadron hero banner 20210317

Salary and benefits

Careers in the Air Force are well-rewarded, as well as being diverse and exciting. As you become more experienced and move up through the ranks, gaining additional skills and qualifications, you will see your salary rise accordingly.


Under Initial Training


Starting Trade Training


Future Potential Earnings

Figures updated on July 1st 2023

Military Factor

Earn a competitive salary while training or learning your trade, along with additional allowances for time spent in the field, at sea, overseas, or deployed on operations.

In addition to salary and allowances, other benefits of joining the New Zealand Defence Force include:

Free and subsidised medical and dental care

Access to subsidised equipment on camp and bases

Subsidised food on camps and bases

Sponsored tertiary study programmes at all levels

Free access to gyms and swimming pools on camp and bases

Subsidised accomodation on camps and bases

Free and subsidised insurance cover

Help to buy a home and save for retirement

Opportunities to travel

Competitive superannuation

Entry requirements



Fitness and medical


Period of Service

  • You must be at least 17 years of age.
  • Computer skills beneficial.
  • Meet the citizenship & security requirements to gain CV security clearance for this trade.
  • Class 1 Full Drivers licence. Class 2 Full licence preferred.

Minimum: NCEA Level 1. Minimum of 12 credits in each English and Mathematics.

To be competitive: NCEA Level 2.

Find out more about the NCEA levels and certificate requirements

  • No requirement to wear glasses.
  • No fear of either heights or confined spaces.
  • You must be medically fit for service.
  • Colour perception restrictions may apply.

There are strict citizenship and security requirements to gain the required CV security clearance for this trade.

Find out if you’re eligible here.

12 months after you have completed your advanced trade training.

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