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Career and Education Opportunities for Forest Firefighters in Sacramento, California

There is a wide variety of career and education opportunities for forest firefighters in the Sacramento, California area. 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 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.

Forest firefighters earn about $29 per hour or $61,880 annually on average in California and about $21 per hour or $44,260 yearly on average nationally. 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. Forest firefighters work in a variety of jobs, including: fire fighter, fire technician, and rescue worker.

There are forty-two schools of higher education in the Sacramento area, including four within twenty-five miles of Sacramento where you can get a degree to start your career 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 Sacramento 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

American River College - Sacramento, CA

American River College, 4700 College Oak Dr, Sacramento, CA 95841-4286. American River College is a large college located in Sacramento, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 37,601 students. American River College has one to two year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated nine, fifteen, and zero students respectively in 2008.

Cosumnes River College - Sacramento, CA

Cosumnes River College, 8401 Center Parkway, Sacramento, CA 95823-5799. Cosumnes River College is a large college located in Sacramento, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 14,518 students. Cosumnes River College has one to two year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated five, sixteen, and zero students respectively in 2008.

San Joaquin Delta College - Stockton, CA

San Joaquin Delta College, 5151 Pacific Ave, Stockton, CA 95207. San Joaquin Delta College is a large college located in Stockton, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 20,480 students. San Joaquin Delta College has one to two year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated one, three, and zero students respectively in 2008.

Sierra College - Rocklin, CA

Sierra College, 5000 Rocklin Road, Rocklin, CA 95677-3397. Sierra College is a large college located in Rocklin, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 21,608 students. Sierra College has one to two year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated twelve, thirty-five, and zero 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: Sacramento, California

Sacramento, California
Sacramento, California photo by Urdangaray

Sacramento is located in Sacramento County, California. It has a population of over 463,794, which has grown by 13.9% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Sacramento, 93, is below the national average. New single-family homes in Sacramento are valued at $185,300 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, nine hundred thirty-four new homes were constructed in Sacramento, down from 1,337 the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Sacramento are health care, educational services, and public administration. For men, it is construction, public administration, and accommodation and food services. The average travel time to work is about 23 minutes. More than 23.9% of Sacramento residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 8.4%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Sacramento is 14.7%, which is greater than California's average of 12.3%.

The percentage of Sacramento residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 36.9%, is less than both the national and state average. Pearly Gate Missionary Baptist Church, Peace Lutheran Church and Parkview Presbyterian Church are among the churches located in Sacramento. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Assemblies of God.

Sacramento is home to the Southern Pacific Shops and the Bing Maloney Golf Course as well as Alkali Flat North Historic District and Silva Field. Shopping centers in the area include Farmers Center Shopping Center, Florin Square Shopping Center and Franklin and Florin Shopping Center. Visitors to Sacramento can choose from Best Western Sutter House, Best for Less Motel-Cababa Lodge and AAA Residence Inn for temporary stays in the area.