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Career and Education Opportunities for Forest Firefighters in Palm Bay, Florida

There are many career and education opportunities for forest firefighters in the Palm Bay, Florida area. There are currently 21,630 jobs for forest firefighters in Florida and this is projected to grow by 13% to about 24,460 jobs 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.

A person working as a forest firefighter can expect to earn about $20 hourly or $43,010 annually on average in Florida and about $21 per hour or $44,260 per year on average in the U.S. as a whole. 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. Forest firefighters work in a variety of jobs, including: fire fighter, smoke chaser, and engine boss.

There is one school within twenty-five miles of Palm Bay where you can study to be a forest firefighter, among five schools of higher education total in the Palm Bay 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 Palm Bay 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.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Forest Firefighter Training

Brevard Community College - Cocoa, FL

Brevard Community College, 1519 Clearlake Rd, Cocoa, FL 32922. Brevard Community College is a large college located in Cocoa, Florida. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 15,607 students. Brevard Community College has a less than one year program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated 127 students 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: Palm Bay, Florida

Palm Bay, Florida
Palm Bay, Florida photo by Cwolfsheep

Palm Bay is located in Brevard County, Florida. It has a population of over 100,786, which has grown by 26.9% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Palm Bay, 83, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Palm Bay are priced at $195,600 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, three hundred ninety-two new homes were built in Palm Bay, down from seven hundred thirty-nine the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Palm Bay are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, computer and electronic products, and accommodation and food services. The average commute to work is about 26 minutes. More than 16.7% of Palm Bay residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 4.9%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Palm Bay is 11.9%, which is greater than Florida's average of 11.3%.

The percentage of Palm Bay residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 39.2%, is less than both the national and state average. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the United Methodist Church.

Palm Bay is home to the Country Club Plaza and the Port Malabar Plaza. Shopping malls in the area include Palm Bay Shopping Center and Port Malabar Shopping Center. Visitors to Palm Bay can choose from Bay Breeze Restaurant and Bleachers Sports Bar & Grill for temporary stays in the area.