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Career and Education Opportunities for Fire Fighters in Los Angeles, California

If you want to be a fire fighter, the Los Angeles, California area offers many opportunities both for education and employment. About 26,700 people are currently employed as fire fighters in California. By 2016, this is expected to grow 18% to about 31,600 people employed. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for fire fighters are expected to grow by about 18.5%. In general, fire fighters control and extinguish municipal fires, protect life and property and conduct rescue efforts.

A person working as a fire fighter can expect to earn about $29 per hour or $61,880 per year on average in California and about $21 hourly or $44,260 annually on average in the U.S. as a whole. Earnings for fire fighters are not quite as good as earnings in the general category of Fire Control in California and not quite as good as general Fire Control category earnings nationally. People working as fire fighters can fill a number of jobs, such as: volunteer fire fighter, tail board worker, and fire apparatus engineer.

The Los Angeles area is home to 274 schools of higher education, including twelve within twenty-five miles of Los Angeles where you can get a degree as a fire fighter. Given that the most common education level for fire fighters is a post-secondary certificate, you can expect to spend a short time studying to be a fire fighter if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Fire Fighter

In general, fire fighters control and extinguish municipal fires, protect life and property and conduct rescue efforts.

Fire fighters decide on and attach hose nozzles, depending on fire type, and direct streams of water or chemicals onto fires. They also lay hose lines and connect them to water supplies. Equally important, fire fighters have to respond to fire alarms and other calls for assistance. They are often called upon to dress with equipment such as fire resistant clothing and breathing apparatus. They are expected to clean and maintain fire stations and fire fighting equipment and apparatus. Finally, fire fighters ready written reports that detail specifics of fire incidents.

Every day, fire fighters are expected to be able to lift, push and move large and heavy objects. They need to respond quickly in general. It is also important that they exert themselves over and over again for long periods of time.

It is important for fire fighters to spray foam onto runways and rescue aircraft crew and passengers in air-crash emergencies. They are often called upon to examine buildings for fire hazards and adherence to fire prevention ordinances, testing and checking smoke alarms and fire suppression equipment as needed. They also salvage property by removing broken glass, pumping out water, and ventilating buildings to remove smoke. They are sometimes expected to establish firelines to inhibit unauthorized persons from entering areas near fires. Somewhat less frequently, fire fighters are also expected to examine fire sites after flames have been extinguished to insure that there is no further danger.

Fire fighters sometimes are asked to protect property from water and smoke using waterproof salvage covers and deodorants. They also have to be able to take action to contain hazardous chemicals that might catch fire or spill and participate in courses, seminars and conferences, and study fire science literature, to learn firefighting techniques. And finally, they sometimes have to lay hose lines and connect them to water supplies.

Like many other jobs, fire fighters must be reliable and believe in cooperation and coordination.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Los Angeles include:

  • Fire Code Inspector. Inspect buildings and equipment to detect fire hazards and enforce state and local regulations.
  • Fire Inspector. Conduct investigations to determine causes of fires and explosions.
  • Fish and Game Warden. Patrol assigned areas to prevent fish and game law violations. Investigate reports of damage to crops or property by wildlife. Compile biological data.
  • Forest Fire Lookout. Enforce fire regulations and inspect for forest fire hazards. Report forest fires and weather conditions.
  • Forest Firefighter. Control and suppress fires in forests or vacant public land.
  • 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: Fire Fighter Training

East Los Angeles College - Monterey Park, CA

East Los Angeles College, 1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez, Monterey Park, CA 91754-6099. East Los Angeles College is a large college located in Monterey Park, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 25,475 students. East Los Angeles College has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated two and two students respectively in 2008.

College of the Canyons - Santa Clarita, CA

College of the Canyons, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Rd, Santa Clarita, CA 91355-1899. College of the Canyons is a large college located in Santa Clarita, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 20,474 students. College of the Canyons has less than one year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated one, twenty-six, and zero students respectively in 2008.

Antelope Valley College - Lancaster, CA

Antelope Valley College, 3041 West Ave K, Lancaster, CA 93536-5426. Antelope Valley College is a large college located in Lancaster, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 14,800 students. Antelope Valley College has less than one year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated twenty-eight, sixteen, and zero students respectively in 2008.

Mt San Antonio College - Walnut, CA

Mt San Antonio College, 1100 N Grand Ave, Walnut, CA 91789-1399. Mt San Antonio College is a large college located in Walnut, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 30,439 students. Mt San Antonio College has less than one year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated thirty-eight, thirty-six, and zero students respectively in 2008.

Long Beach City College - Long Beach, CA

Long Beach City College, 4901 E. Carson St., Long Beach, CA 90808-1706. Long Beach City College is a large college located in Long Beach, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 26,097 students. Long Beach City College has less than one year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated fifteen, twenty-two, and zero students respectively in 2008.

Santa Ana College - Santa Ana, CA

Santa Ana College, 1530 W. 17th Street, Santa Ana, CA 92706-3398. Santa Ana College is a large college located in Santa Ana, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 26,464 students. Santa Ana College has less than one year, one to two year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated thirty-six, 174, 114, and zero students respectively in 2008.

Pasadena City College - Pasadena, CA

Pasadena City College, 1570 E Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91106-2003. Pasadena City College is a large college located in Pasadena, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 26,453 students. Pasadena City College has one to two year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated two, zero, and zero students respectively in 2008.

Glendale Community College - Glendale, CA

Glendale Community College, 1500 N Verdugo Rd, Glendale, CA 91208-2894. Glendale Community College is a large college located in Glendale, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 15,993 students. Glendale Community College has less than one year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated five, one, and zero students respectively in 2008.

Los Angeles Harbor College - Wilmington, CA

Los Angeles Harbor College, 1111 Figueroa Place, Wilmington, CA 90744-2397. Los Angeles Harbor College is a large college located in Wilmington, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 9,694 students. Los Angeles Harbor College has an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated three students in 2008.

El Camino Community College District - Torrance, CA

El Camino Community College District, 16007 Crenshaw Blvd, Torrance, CA 90506. El Camino Community College District is a large college located in Torrance, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 26,825 students. El Camino Community College District has less than one year, one to two year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated thirty, five, twenty-one, and zero students respectively in 2008.

Rio Hondo College - Whittier, CA

Rio Hondo College, 3600 Workman Mill Rd, Whittier, CA 90601-1616. Rio Hondo College is a large college located in Whittier, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 17,505 students. Rio Hondo College has less than one year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated 157, seventy-one, and zero students respectively in 2008.

Los Angeles Valley College - Valley Glen, CA

Los Angeles Valley College, 5800 Fulton Avenue, Valley Glen, CA 91401-4096. Los Angeles Valley College is a large college located in Valley Glen, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 18,550 students. Los Angeles Valley College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated one and thirteen students respectively in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

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.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, California photo by Diliff

Los Angeles is located in Los Angeles County, California. It has a population of over 3,833,995, which has grown by 3.8% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Los Angeles, 166, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in Los Angeles are valued at $361,500 on average, which is far greater than the state average. In 2008, seven hundred twelve new homes were built in Los Angeles, down from 1,551 the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Los Angeles are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is construction, accommodation and food services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. The average travel time to work is about 30 minutes. More than 25.5% of Los Angeles residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 9.1%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Los Angeles is 13.9%, which is greater than California's average of 12.3%.

The percentage of Los Angeles residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 58.1%, is more than both the national and state average. All Peoples Christian Church, All Saints Episcopal Church and All Saints Roman Catholic Church are some of the churches located in Los Angeles. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the LDS (Mormon) Church.

Los Angeles is home to the Balboa Municipal Golf Course and the Angels Flight Railway as well as Hazard Park and State Street Recreation Center. Shopping centers in the area include Encino Junior Shopping Center, Encino Oaks Shopping Center and Encino Town Center Shopping Center. Visitors to Los Angeles can choose from Best Western Mid-Wilshire Plaza, Best Western Westwood Pacific and Alma Lodge for temporary stays in the area.