Fire Helicopter Pilot

$79,955 - $96,782 yearly
  • San Diego Fire and Rescue
  • San Diego, CA, USA
  • Aug 12, 2022
Full time Firefighting Government (Local) Helicopter Pilot HEMS/HAA Multicrew NVG Rescue Pilot Search and Rescue Single Pilot VFR

Job Description


See NOTE(S) below for future wage increases and/or additional compensation opportunities. 

Fire Helicopter Pilot positions are responsible for the safe day-to-day operation of all San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Air Operations Section helicopters.  Air Operations Section Fire Helicopter Pilots will be assigned to a designated helibase for standby as a first responder resource available for emergency responses during daytime and night hours; pilot aircraft to emergency and non-emergency dispatch alarms involving City and County service flights; transport fire control workers to fires and fire-related work; transport fire medical personnel to medical emergencies; effect rescue and transportation of injured persons or patients to hospitals; communicate information obtained from aerial surveillance of fire activities and conditions; drop fire retardant chemicals or water in assigned fire suppression target areas; operate all special aircraft accessory equipment which may include external loads, rescue hoist, Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR), and other devices; transport logistical materials to the fire line; act as a Helicopter Coordinator (HLCO) for the interagency coordination/use of tactical aircraft on multi-agency emergency incidents, mutual aid air responses, military operations/coordination and/or other emergency use of command and control or tactical aircraft; ensure the timely completion of daily helicopter maintenance; conduct daily pre-flight and post-flight inspections; fly helicopters during normal and emergency operations; provide aviation operations orientation and training as needed for regional public safety personnel; participate in all aviation training as needed to sustain a safe aviation operation program; provide Air Operations Section Chief Pilot or Air Operations Chief with all information related to flight safety and any deviation of Departmental and/or Air Operations Section policies, protocols, and procedures; and perform other duties as assigned.


  • The following wage increase is scheduled to take effect for Fire Helicopter Pilot: 5% effective 1/1/23.
  • The following general wage increase is scheduled to take effect for Fire Helicopter Pilot: 1% effective 1/1/23.
  • Eligible benefitted employees originally hired on or after July 10, 2021, will be automatically enrolled in the San Diego City Employees Retirement System (SDCERS).

  • The list established for these positions may be used to fill full-time and/or limited, hourly vacancies.
  • Full-time Fire Helicopter Pilot employees will be uniformed positions within the City of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.
  • Uniformed members may be eligible to receive an additional 10% percent of their base wage while either (1) permanently assigned or (2) certified and working in the Air Operation specialty. 
  • Fire Helicopter Pilot employees are eligible for 10% additional pay after successfully obtaining a valid County of San Diego Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Card.




You must meet the following requirements on the date you apply, unless otherwise indicated.
EXPERIENCE:  You must meet ALL of the following:
  1. 4,000 hours of logged flying time in turbine-engine helicopters, which MUST include a minimum of 100 hours within the last 12 months.
  2. 500 hours of combined logged flying time in Bell 205, Bell 212, and/or Bell 412 turbine engine helicopters. 
  3. 1,500 hours of logged flying time in turbine-engine helicopters as a Pilot-in-Command in mountainous terrain, which is defined as: conducting flight operations and maneuvering a helicopter in pinnacle landings and approaches and in take-offs and landings indicative to difficult mountainous terrain at varying elevations and density altitudes of over 5,000 feet above sea level.              
  • Qualifying experience in mountainous terrain MUST include rugged peaks, deep canyons, cliffs, rock outcropping, and steep slopes to include landing on mountain tops and confined areas surrounded by trees, brush, rocks, snow, or ice.  Mountainous terrain also consists of abrupt, rapidly rising terrain resulting in high landmasses projecting above surroundings, where complex structure folding, faulting, and igneous activity have taken place. These mountainous terrains produce vertical mountain winds, turbulence associated with mountain waves, and abrupt changes in wind direction often resulting in up and/or down flowing air currents.  In the contiguous United States, the boundaries of these mountainous terrains are defined in the Aeronautical Information Manual.                                                                                            
CERTIFICATION:  You must have ALL of the following certificates:
  1. Possession of a valid Airline Transport Pilot Certificate or Commercial Pilot Certificate with a rotorcraft-helicopter rating issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
  2. Possession of a valid First or Second Class Aviation Medical Certificate issued under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 67.
  3. Possession of a valid Interagency Helicopter Pilot Qualification Card issued by the US Forest Service (USFS), US Department of the Interior (DOI), or Cal Fire with Bell 205, Bell 212, and/or Bell 412 aircraft approval. If the card is expired, it must have been issued within 36 months of the date of application.
  • A valid County of San Diego Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Card is required within one year from date of hire.
LICENSE: A valid California Class C Driver License is required at the time of hire.

  • Qualified to transport Class A, B, C, and D external loads.
  • 500 hours of vertical reference experience (100 feet or greater).
  • Experience in night flying using night vision goggle (NVG) equipment.
  • Experience in aerial wildland fire fighting, rescue, and emergency medical services (EMS) operations.
  • FAA Instrument rating in Rotorcraft-Helicopter.
  • Qualified as a Check Airman.
  • Reside in the Southern California geographic area.
  • Possession of a valid Airline Transport Pilot certificate. 

  • Proof of logbook hours verified by chief pilot or authorized FAA representative.
  • Proof of a valid Airline Transport Pilot Certificate or Commercial Pilot Certificate with a rotorcraft-helicopter rating issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) (submit front and back of certificate).
  • Proof of a valid First or Second Class Aviation Medical Certificate issued under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 67. 
  • Proof of a valid Interagency Helicopter Pilot Qualification Card or Card issued within 36 months of the date of application by the US Forest Service (USFS), US Department of the Interior (DOI), or Cal Fire with Bell 205, Bell 212, and/or Bell 412 aircraft approval. 
Required documents should be attached electronically to your application.  If you are unable to attach at the time of application submittal, you must submit them as soon as possible via fax: (619) 533-3337; or to the Employment Information Center:  City of San Diego Personnel Department, 1200 Third Avenue - Suite 300, San Diego, CA 92101.  Include your name and the title of the position for which you are applying.




Please ensure all information is complete and accurate as the responses you provide on the supplemental questions will be reviewed using an automated evaluation system.  If you are successful in this initial screening process, your application will be reviewed for applicable education, experience, and/or training to ensure all minimum requirements have been met.  Successful candidates will be placed on a list which will be used to fill position vacancies during the next six months (180 days).  For each vacancy, only those candidates with the most appropriate qualifications will be contacted by the hiring department for an interview. 




PRE-EMPLOYMENT REQUIREMENTS:  Employment offers are conditional pending the results of all screening processes that are applicable to this job, which may include but are not limited to the following:  Confirmation of citizenship/legal right to work in the United States; completion of a pre-employment medical review/exam (which may include drug/alcohol testing); reference checks; and a fingerprint check.  The fingerprints will be submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the California Department of Justice for a conviction record report.  Certain positions may require additional screening processes which may include a polygraph examination and/or background investigation.  All of these processes must be successfully completed before employment begins.  A positive test for alcohol, illegal drugs, including marijuana, or inadequately explained prescription drugs, misrepresentation, falsification, or omission of pertinent facts in any step of the screening/selection process may be cause for disqualification and/or termination of employment.  Nothing in this job posting constitutes an expressed or implied contract for employment with the City of San Diego.  Applicants must notify the Personnel Department of any changes in their name, address (home, email), or phone number or they may miss employment opportunities.
COVID-19 VACCINATION: You must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before your start date.
  • “Fully vaccinated” means a person has received, at least 14 days prior, either the second dose in a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series or a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, or otherwise meets the criteria for full vaccination against COVID-19 as stated in applicable public health guidance, orders, or law. Acceptable COVID-19 vaccines must either be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or authorized for emergency use by the FDA or the World Health Organization.  
  • Candidates who receive a conditional job offer will be required to provide proof of their full COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Employees and candidates with a disability or medical condition that makes it medically inadvisable for them to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, as verified by their healthcare provider, or those with a sincerely held religious belief, observance, or practice that prevents them from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, may request reasonable accommodation and exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement. Candidates who receive a conditional job offer and wish to make a request for accommodation will be provided with more information. The City will review requests for medical or religious accommodation on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. A candidate’s start date may be adjusted to allow for the accommodation process.