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Career and Education Opportunities for Forest Firefighters in Montgomery, Alabama

Forest firefighter career and educational opportunities abound in Montgomery, Alabama. There are currently 4,870 jobs for forest firefighters in Alabama and this is projected to grow by 14% to about 5,550 jobs by 2016. This is not quite as good as the national trend for forest firefighters, which sees this job pool growing by about 18.5% over the next eight years. In general, forest firefighters control and suppress fires in forests or vacant public land.

The income of a forest firefighter is about $16 hourly or $34,250 annually on average in Alabama. In the U.S. as a whole, their income is about $21 per hour or $44,260 annually on average. Compared with people working in the overall category of Fire Control, people working as forest firefighters in Alabama earn less. They earn less than people working in the overall category of Fire Control nationally. Jobs in this field include: engine boss, smoke chaser, and smoke eater.

The Montgomery area is home to twelve schools of higher education, including one within twenty-five miles of Montgomery where you can get a degree as a forest firefighter. The most common level of education for forest firefighters is a high school diploma or GED. You can expect to spend only a short time training to become a forest firefighter if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Forest Firefighter

Forest Firefighter video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, forest firefighters control and suppress fires in forests or vacant public land.

Forest firefighters patrol burned areas after fires to identify and eliminate hot spots that may restart fires. They also extinguish flames and embers to suppress fires, using shovels, or engine- or hand-driven water or chemical pumps. Equally important, forest firefighters have to manage knowledge of current firefighting practices by participating in drills and by attending seminars and conferences. They are often called upon to fell trees, cut and clear brush, and dig trenches to generate firelines, using axes, chainsaws or shovels. They are expected to manage fire equipment and firehouse living quarters. Finally, forest firefighters manage contact with fire dispatchers at all times to notify them of the need for additional firefighters and supplies, or to detail any difficulties encountered.

Every day, forest firefighters are expected to be able to lift, push and move large and heavy objects. They need to evaluate problems as they arise. It is also important that they listen to and understand others in meetings.

It is important for forest firefighters to perform forest maintenance and improvement tasks such as cutting brush, planting trees, building trails and marking timber. They are often called upon to inform and educate the public about fire prevention. They also operate pumps connected to high-pressure hoses. They are sometimes expected to transport staff and cargo to and from fire areas. Somewhat less frequently, forest firefighters are also expected to participate in physical training to maintain high levels of physical fitness.

Forest firefighters sometimes are asked to serve as fully trained lead helicopter crewmember and as helispot manager. They also have to be able to observe forest areas from fire lookout towers to spot potential problems and test and maintain tools, equipment, jump gear and parachutes to insure readiness for fire suppression efforts. And finally, they sometimes have to manage fire equipment and firehouse living quarters.

Like many other jobs, forest firefighters must be reliable and be thorough and dependable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Montgomery include:

  • Fire Code Inspector. Inspect buildings and equipment to detect fire hazards and enforce state and local regulations.
  • Fire Fighter. Control and extinguish municipal fires, protect life and property and conduct rescue efforts.
  • Fire Inspector. Conduct investigations to determine causes of fires and explosions.
  • Forest Fire Lookout. Enforce fire regulations and inspect for forest fire hazards. Report forest fires and weather conditions.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Forest Firefighter Training

Community College of the Air Force - Montgomery, AL

Community College of the Air Force, 130 W Maxwell Blvd, Montgomery, AL 36112-6613. college located in Montgomery, Alabama. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 321,775 students. Community College of the Air Force has an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated 215 students in 2008.


Oxygen Administration: Prepares laypersons and professional rescuers with the knowledge and skills needed to know when and how to use supplemental oxygen and breathing devices.

For more information, see the American Red Cross website.

Incident Safety Officer - Fire Suppression Certification: A fire department incident safety officer's mission is to promote safety standards and practices in the fire, rescue and emergency services community.

For more information, see the Fire Department Safety Officers Association website.

Health & Safety Officer Certification: Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Programs.

For more information, see the Fire Department Safety Officers Association website.

Special Hazards Suppression Systems: This certification program is designed for engineering technicians engaged in the detailing and layout and/or installation and maintenance related to special hazards suppression systems.

For more information, see the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies website.


Montgomery, Alabama
Montgomery, Alabama photo by Spyder Monkey

Montgomery is situated in Montgomery County, Alabama. It has a population of over 202,696, which has grown by 0.6% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Montgomery, 83, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Montgomery are valued at $129,500 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, two hundred seventy-eight new homes were built in Montgomery, down from six hundred nineteen the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Montgomery are health care, educational services, and public administration. For men, it is public administration, construction, and educational services. The average travel time to work is about 20 minutes. More than 29.4% of Montgomery residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 11.3%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Montgomery is 10.1%, which is less than Alabama's average of 10.7%.

The percentage of Montgomery residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 50.6%, is more than the national average but less than the state average. Big Roxanna Church, William African Methodist Episcopal Zion Chapel and Whitfield Memorial United Methodist Church are some of the churches located in Montgomery. The largest religious groups are the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Methodist Church and the Churches of Christ.

Montgomery is home to the Montgomery Public Library and the Booker T Washington Community Center as well as Old Selma Road Park and Montgomery East Exchange Park. Shopping centers in the area include Montgomery East Plaza Shopping Center, Montgomery Mall Shopping Center and Norman Bridge South Shopping Center. Visitors to Montgomery can choose from Relax Inn, Islander and Towne Place Suites by Marriott for temporary stays in the area.