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Career and Education Opportunities for Forest Fire Lookouts in Elgin, Illinois

Elgin, Illinois provides a wide variety of opportunities, both career and educational, for forest fire lookouts. The national trend for forest fire lookouts sees this job pool growing by about 8.4% over the next eight years. In general, forest fire lookouts enforce fire regulations and inspect for forest fire hazards.

The average wage in the general category of Fire Control jobs is $27 per hour or $56,900 per year in Illinois, and an average of $25 per hour or $51,548 per year nationwide. People working as forest fire lookouts can fill a number of jobs, such as: ranger, forest officer, and wildland fire operations specialist.

There are sixty-one schools of higher education in the Elgin area, including seven within twenty-five miles of Elgin where you can get a degree to start your career as a forest fire lookout. The most common level of education for forest fire lookouts is a Bachelor's degree. You can expect to spend about four years studying to be a forest fire lookout if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Forest Fire Lookout

In general, forest fire lookouts enforce fire regulations and inspect for forest fire hazards. They also report forest fires and weather conditions.

Forest fire lookouts relay messages about emergencies, accidents, locations of crew and staff, and fire hazard conditions. They also direct crews working on firelines during forest fires. Equally important, forest fire lookouts have to manage records and logbooks. They are often called upon to estimate sizes and characteristics of fires, and report findings to base camps by radio or telephone. They are expected to direct maintenance and up keep firefighting equipment, or requisition new equipment. Finally, forest fire lookouts examine and inventory firefighting equipment such as axes and fire extinguishers in order to establish  their condition.

Every day, forest fire lookouts are expected to be able to evaluate problems as they arise. They need to articulate ideas and problems. It is also important that they listen to and understand others in meetings.

It is important for forest fire lookouts to administer rules regarding sanitation and related forest rules. They are often called upon to locate forest fires on area maps, using azimuth sighters and known landmarks. They also patrol assigned areas, looking for forest fires and weather phenomena. They are sometimes expected to examine forest tracts and logging areas for fire hazards such as accumulated wastes or mishandling of combustibles, and recommend appropriate fire prevention measures. Somewhat less frequently, forest fire lookouts are also expected to restrict public access and recreational use of forest lands during critical fire seasons.

They also have to be able to restrict public access and recreational use of forest lands during critical fire seasons and examine and inventory firefighting equipment such as axes and fire extinguishers in order to establish  their condition. And finally, they sometimes have to examine forest tracts and logging areas for fire hazards such as accumulated wastes or mishandling of combustibles, and recommend appropriate fire prevention measures.

Like many other jobs, forest fire lookouts must want to innovate to meet new challenges and believe in cooperation and coordination.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Elgin include:

  • Criminal Investigator. Investigate alleged or suspected criminal violations of Federal, state, or local laws to determine if evidence is sufficient to recommend prosecution.
  • Customs Inspector. Investigate and inspect persons, common carriers, and merchandise, arriving in or departing from the United States or between states to detect violations of immigration and customs laws and regulations.
  • 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 Firefighter. Control and suppress fires in forests or vacant public land.
  • Policeman. Patrol assigned areas to enforce laws and ordinances, regulate traffic, and arrest violators.
  • Security Guard. Guard, patrol, or monitor premises to prevent theft, violence, or infractions of rules.
  • Sheriff. Enforce law and order in rural or unincorporated districts or serve legal processes of courts. May patrol courthouse, guard court or grand jury, or escort defendants.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Forest Fire Lookout Training

College of Lake County - Grayslake, IL

College of Lake County, 19351 W Washington St., Grayslake, IL 60030-1198. College of Lake County is a large college located in Grayslake, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 16,359 students. College of Lake County has an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated eighteen students in 2008.

Triton College - River Grove, IL

Triton College, 2000 5th Ave, River Grove, IL 60171-1995. Triton College is a large college located in River Grove, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 15,547 students. Triton College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated one and eight students respectively in 2008.

Elgin Community College - Elgin, IL

Elgin Community College, 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin, IL 60123-7193. Elgin Community College is a medium sized college located in Elgin, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 9,821 students. Elgin Community College has less than one year, one to two year, and associate's degree programs in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated thirty-five, seven, and nine students respectively in 2008.

Harper College - Palatine, IL

Harper College, 1200 W Algonquin Rd, Palatine, IL 60067-7398. Harper College is a large college located in Palatine, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 15,250 students. Harper College has an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated forty-three students in 2008.

Oakton Community College - Des Plaines, IL

Oakton Community College, 1600 E Golf Rd., Des Plaines, IL 60016-1268. Oakton Community College is a large college located in Des Plaines, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 10,552 students. Oakton Community College has less than one year, one to two year, and associate's degree programs in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated one, three, and four students respectively in 2008.

McHenry County College - Crystal Lake, IL

McHenry County College, 8900 US Hwy 14, Crystal Lake, IL 60012-2761. McHenry County College is a medium sized college located in Crystal Lake, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 5,374 students. McHenry County College has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated fifty-six and eight students respectively in 2008.

Waubonsee Community College - Sugar Grove, IL

Waubonsee Community College, Rte 47 at Waubonsee Drive, Sugar Grove, IL 60554-0901. Waubonsee Community College is a medium sized college located in Sugar Grove, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 9,218 students. Waubonsee Community College has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated one and seven students respectively in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

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.

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: Elgin, Illinois

Elgin, Illinois
Elgin, Illinois photo by James Jordan

Elgin is located in Kane County, Illinois. It has a population of over 106,330, which has grown by 12.5% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Elgin, 104, is above the national average. New single-family homes in Elgin cost $156,500 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, three hundred thirty-two new homes were constructed in Elgin, down from seven hundred fifty-six the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Elgin are health care, educational services, and finance and insurance. For men, it is construction, metal and metal products, and administrative and support and waste management services. The average travel time to work is about 26 minutes. More than 20.5% of Elgin residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 6.0%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Elgin is 12.4%, which is greater than Illinois's average of 10.5%.

The percentage of Elgin residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 56.0%, is more than both the national and state average. Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Seventh Day Adventist Church and Saint Thomas More Roman Catholic Church are some of the churches located in Elgin. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Elgin is home to the Fox Bluff Corporate Center and the Elgin Fire Station Number 2 as well as Wing Park and College Park. Shopping malls in the area include Wing Park Manor Shopping Center, Tyler Creek Plaza Shopping Center and Town and Country Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Elgin can choose from Elgin-Days Inn, Colonial Lodge Motel and Crowne Plaza for temporary stays in the area.