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Career and Education Opportunities for Forest Firefighters in Port St. Lucie, Florida

If you want to be a forest firefighter, the Port St. Lucie, Florida area offers many opportunities both for education and employment. There are currently 21,630 jobs for forest firefighters in Florida and this is projected to grow by 13% to 24,460 jobs 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 yearly on average in Florida. Nationally, their income is about $21 per hour or $44,260 yearly. Incomes for forest firefighters are not quite as good as in the overall category of Fire Control in Florida, and not quite as good as the overall Fire Control category nationally. Forest firefighters work in a variety of jobs, including: forest ranger, ranger, and smoke eater.

There are five schools of higher education in the Port St. Lucie area, including one within twenty-five miles of Port St. Lucie where you can get a degree to start your career as a forest firefighter. The most common level of education for forest firefighters is a high school diploma or GED. 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 Port St. Lucie 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

Indian River State College - Fort Pierce, FL

Indian River State College, 3209 Virginia Ave, Fort Pierce, FL 34981-5596. Indian River State College is a large college located in Fort Pierce, Florida. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 15,366 students. Indian River State College has a less than one year program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated seventy-eight 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: Port St. Lucie, Florida

Port St. Lucie, Florida
Port St. Lucie, Florida photo by Bgag

Port St. Lucie is located in St. Lucie County, Florida. It has a population of over 154,353, which has grown by 73.9% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Port St. Lucie, 89, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Port St. Lucie are valued at $113,200 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, five hundred thirteen new homes were built in Port St. Lucie, down from 1,281 the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Port St. Lucie are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, accommodation and food services, and administrative and support and waste management services. The average commute to work is about 28 minutes. More than 15.0% of Port St. Lucie residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 4.8%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Port St. Lucie is 13.0%, which is greater than Florida's average of 11.3%.

The percentage of Port St. Lucie residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 38.6%, is less than both the national and state average. Port Saint Lucie Methodist Church, Saint Lucie Catholic Church and Unitarian Universalist Church Indian River are among the churches located in Port St. Lucie. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the United Methodist Church.