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Career and Education Opportunities for Forest Firefighters in Ontario, California

Forest firefighter career and educational opportunities abound in Ontario, California. Currently, 26,700 people work as forest firefighters in California. This is expected to grow by 18% to about 31,600 people by 2016. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for forest firefighters are expected to grow by about 18.5%. In general, forest firefighters control and suppress fires in forests or vacant public land.

The income of a forest firefighter is about $29 per hour or $61,880 per year on average in California. In the U.S. as a whole, their income is about $21 per hour or $44,260 per year on average. Earnings for forest firefighters 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 forest firefighters can fill a number of jobs, such as: handcrew foreman, firefighter, and rescue worker.

There are twenty-two schools of higher education in the Ontario area, including two within twenty-five miles of Ontario where you can get a degree to start your career as a forest firefighter. Forest firefighters usually hold a high school diploma or GED, so you can expect to spend only a short time studying to be 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 Ontario 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.
  • Security Guard. Guard, patrol, or monitor premises to prevent theft, violence, or infractions of rules.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Forest Firefighter Training

Chaffey College - Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Chaffey College, 5885 Haven Ave, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91737-3002. Chaffey College is a large college located in Rancho Cucamonga, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 20,486 students. Chaffey College has less than one year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated two, one, and zero students respectively in 2008.

Barstow Community College - Barstow, CA

Barstow Community College, 2700 Barstow Road, Barstow, CA 92311. Barstow Community College is a small college located in Barstow, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 2,318 students. Barstow Community College has an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated one student 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.


Ontario, California
Ontario, California photo by Sfan00_IMG

Ontario is situated in San Bernardino County, California. It has a population of over 171,691, which has grown by 8.7% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Ontario, 127, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in Ontario are priced at $164,100 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, eight new homes were constructed in Ontario, down from three hundred seven the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Ontario are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, administrative and support and waste management services, and accommodation and food services. The average commute to work is about 31 minutes. More than 10.5% of Ontario residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 2.7%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Ontario is 14.9%, which is greater than California's average of 12.3%.

The percentage of Ontario residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 42.0%, is less than both the national and state average. Kingdom Hall of Jehovahs Witnesses, Country Church of Ontario and Grace Missionary Baptist Church are all churches located in Ontario. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the LDS (Mormon) Church.

Ontario is home to the Ontario Motor Speedway and the West End Multi-Service Center as well as Del Rancho Park and Unity Park. Shopping malls in the area include Galvin Park Shopping Center, Vineyard Freeway Shopping Center and Ontario Vineyard Marketplace Shopping Center. Visitors to Ontario can choose from Best Western Ontario, Best Western Ontario Airport and Amerisuites Ontario Mills for temporary stays in the area.