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Career and Education Opportunities for Forest Firefighters in Jacksonville, Florida

Forest firefighters can find both educational opportunities and jobs in the Jacksonville, Florida area. Currently, 21,630 people work as forest firefighters in Florida. This is expected to grow by 13% to about 24,460 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. Forest firefighters generally control and suppress fires in forests or vacant public land.

Income for forest firefighters is about $20 hourly or $43,010 annually on average in Florida. Nationally, their income is about $21 per hour or $44,260 per year. Compared with people working in the overall category of Fire Control, people working as forest firefighters in Florida earn less. They earn less than people working in the overall category of Fire Control nationally. People working as forest firefighters can fill a number of jobs, such as: forestry technician , rescue worker, and firefighter.

There are three schools within twenty-five miles of Jacksonville where you can study to be a forest firefighter, among thirty-three schools of higher education total in the Jacksonville area. 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 Jacksonville 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

University of Florida - Gainesville, FL

University of Florida, 355 Tigert Hall, Gainesville, FL 32611-3115. University of Florida is a large university located in Gainesville, Florida. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 51,475 students and an admission rate of 41%. University of Florida has a bachelor's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated seven students in 2008.

Florida Community College at Jacksonville - Jacksonville, FL

Florida Community College at Jacksonville, 501 W State St, Jacksonville, FL 32202. Florida Community College at Jacksonville is a large college located in Jacksonville, Florida. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 25,686 students. Florida Community College at Jacksonville has a less than one year program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated fifty-eight students in 2008.

First Coast Technical College - Saint Augustine, FL

First Coast Technical College, 2980 Collins Ave, Saint Augustine, FL 32084-1919. First Coast Technical College is a small college located in Saint Augustine, Florida. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 657 students. First Coast Technical College has a one to two year program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated 269 students 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.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida photo by Digon3

Jacksonville is located in Duval County, Florida. It has a population of over 807,815, which has grown by 9.8% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Jacksonville, 84, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Jacksonville are valued at $173,500 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, 2,592 new homes were built in Jacksonville, down from 3,449 the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Jacksonville are health care, finance and insurance, and educational services. For men, it is construction, finance and insurance, and accommodation and food services. The average commute to work is about 25 minutes. More than 21.1% of Jacksonville residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 6.5%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Jacksonville is 10.9%, which is less than Florida's average of 11.3%.

The percentage of Jacksonville residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 44.2%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. Church of God-West Jacksonville, Church of Good Shepherd and Church of Our Savior are among the churches located in Jacksonville. The largest religious groups are the Southern Baptist Convention, the Catholic Church and the United Methodist Church.

Jacksonville is home to the Pearl Plaza and the Lane Center as well as Memorial Park and James Park. Shopping centers in the area include 5 Points West Shopping Center, Lone Star Road Shopping Center and Normandy Mall. Visitors to Jacksonville can choose from Civista Inn, Best Western Baldwin Inn and City Center Motel for temporary stays in the area.