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Career and Education Opportunities for Forest Firefighters in Tucson, Arizona

For those living in the Tucson, Arizona area, there are many career and education opportunities for forest firefighters. There are currently 5,650 jobs for forest firefighters in Arizona and this is projected to grow by 14% to about 6,440 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. Forest firefighters generally control and suppress fires in forests or vacant public land.

The income of a forest firefighter is about $18 hourly or $38,580 yearly on average in Arizona. In the U.S. as a whole, their income is about $21 per hour or $44,260 yearly on average. Forest firefighters earn less than people working in the category of Fire Control generally in Arizona and less than people in the Fire Control category nationally. Forest firefighters work in a variety of jobs, including: fire technician, wildland fire fighter specialist, and smoke chaser.

The Tucson area is home to twenty-one schools of higher education, including one within twenty-five miles of Tucson where you can get a degree as a forest firefighter. Given that the most common education level 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 Tucson 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.
  • Lifeguard. Monitor recreational areas, such as pools, beaches, or ski slopes to provide assistance and protection to participants.
  • Security Guard. Guard, patrol, or monitor premises to prevent theft, violence, or infractions of rules.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Forest Firefighter Training

Pima Community College - Tucson, AZ

Pima Community College, 401 North Bonita Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85709-5000. Pima Community College is a large college located in Tucson, Arizona. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 30,529 students. Pima Community College has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated six and twenty-one students respectively 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.


Tucson, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona photo by Howcheng

Tucson is situated in Pima County, Arizona. It has a population of over 541,811, which has grown by 11.3% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Tucson, 88, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Tucson are priced at $179,100 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, five hundred sixty-five new homes were built in Tucson, down from 1,131 the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Tucson are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, accommodation and food services, and educational services. The average commute to work is about 22 minutes. More than 22.9% of Tucson residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 9.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Tucson is 9.2%, which is less than Arizona's average of 9.3%.

The percentage of Tucson residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 44.9%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the LDS (Mormon) Church.

Tucson is home to the Arizona Correctional Training Facility and the Silverbell Golf Course as well as Vista del Pueblo Park and Verde Meadows Park. Shopping centers in the area include Gaslight Square Shopping Center, Grant Park Shopping Center and Grant Plaza South Shopping Center. Visitors to Tucson can choose from LA Quinta, Casa Tierra Adobe B & B Inn and Best Western Executive Inn for temporary stays in the area.