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Career and Education Opportunities for Forest Firefighters in Honolulu, Hawaii

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for forest firefighters in the Honolulu, Hawaii area. Currently, 1,970 people work as forest firefighters in Hawaii. This is expected to grow by 7% to about 2,100 people 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 $23 per hour or $48,430 annually on average in Hawaii and about $21 per hour or $44,260 annually 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 Hawaii 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: ranger, handcrew foreman, and smoke eater.

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

Honolulu Community College - Honolulu, HI

Honolulu Community College, 874 Dillingham Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96817-4598. Honolulu Community College is a small college located in Honolulu, Hawaii. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 4,218 students. Honolulu Community College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated three and fifteen students respectively 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.


Honolulu, Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii photo by ErgoSum88

Honolulu is located in Honolulu County, Hawaii. It has a population of over 374,676, which has grown by 0.8% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Honolulu, 180, is far greater than the national average.

The three most popular industries for women in Honolulu are accommodation and food services, educational services, and health care. For men, it is accommodation and food services, public administration, and educational services. The average commute to work is about 23 minutes. More than 31.1% of Honolulu residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 10.7%, is higher than the state average.

The percentage of Honolulu residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 33.3%, is less than both the national and state average. Waiokeola Congregational Church, Daijingu Temple of Hawaii and Wesley Methodist Student Center are among the churches located in Honolulu. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Southern Baptist Convention.

Honolulu is home to the Livingston Pool and the Mamala Bay Golf Course as well as Spalding Memorial Tennis Courts and Kuhio Park. Shopping malls in the area include Aina Haina Shopping Center, Ala Moana Shopping Center and Aloha Tower Marketplace Shopping Center. Visitors to Honolulu can choose from Kosuga Inc, Hawaiian Condo Resorts Inc and Honolulu Airport Hotel for temporary stays in the area.