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Career and Education Opportunities for Forest Firefighters in Denver, Colorado

Forest firefighter career and educational opportunities abound in Denver, Colorado. Currently, 4,300 people work as forest firefighters in Colorado. This is expected to grow by 21% to 5,190 people by 2016. This is better than 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 $24 per hour or $49,960 yearly on average in Colorado. In the U.S. as a whole, their income is about $21 per hour or $44,260 annually on average. Forest firefighters earn less than people working in the category of Fire Control generally in Colorado and less than people in the Fire Control category nationally. Jobs in this field include: wildland fire fighter specialist, forestry crew chief, and fire technician.

There are sixty-four schools of higher education in the Denver area, including one within twenty-five miles of Denver 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 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 Denver 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

Community College of Aurora - Aurora, CO

Community College of Aurora, 16000 E CentreTech Pky, Aurora, CO 80011-9036. Community College of Aurora is a medium sized college located in Aurora, Colorado. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 5,217 students. Community College of Aurora has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated thirty-four and two 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: Denver, Colorado

Denver, Colorado
Denver, Colorado photo by David Shankbone

Denver is located in Denver County, Colorado. It has a population of over 598,707, which has grown by 7.9% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Denver, 102, is near the national average. New single-family homes in Denver are priced at $223,800 on average, which is below the state average. In 2008, eight hundred thirty-seven new homes were constructed in Denver, down from 1,215 the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Denver are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is construction, professional, scientific, and technical services, and accommodation and food services. The average travel time to work is about 25 minutes. More than 34.5% of Denver residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 12.4%, is higher than the state average.

The percentage of Denver residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 53.0%, is more than both the national and state average. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the American Baptist Churches in the USA and the Episcopal Church.

Denver is home to the J F Kennedy Municipal Golf Course and the North Marston Filtration Plant as well as Cheesman Park and Bear Creek Park. Shopping malls in the area include Alameda Square Shopping Center, Boulevard Shopping Center and Brentwood Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Denver can choose from Embassy Suites Hotel Denver Downtown, Intown Suites Aurora and Denver Marriott City Center for temporary stays in the area.