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Career and Education Opportunities for Forest Firefighters in Wichita, Kansas

There is a wide variety of career and education opportunities for forest firefighters in the Wichita, Kansas area. The national trend for forest firefighters 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 $15 hourly or $32,700 per year on average in Kansas. Nationally, their income is about $21 hourly or $44,260 annually. Forest firefighters earn less than people working in the category of Fire Control generally in Kansas and less than people in the Fire Control category nationally. People working as forest firefighters can fill a number of jobs, such as: smoke chaser, engine boss, and fire technician.

The Wichita area is home to nineteen schools of higher education, including one within twenty-five miles of Wichita where you can get a degree as a forest firefighter. Given that the most common education level for forest firefighters is a high school diploma or GED, it will take only a short time to learn 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 Wichita 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

Butler Community College - El Dorado, KS

Butler Community College, 901 S Haverhill Rd, El Dorado, KS 67042-3280. Butler Community College is a medium sized college located in El Dorado, Kansas. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 8,190 students. Butler Community College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated one and twenty 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.


Wichita, Kansas
Wichita, Kansas photo by Pacoperez6

Wichita is located in Sedgwick County, Kansas. It has a population of over 366,046, which has grown by 6.3% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Wichita, 78, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Wichita cost $106,900 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, 1,012 new homes were constructed in Wichita, down from 1,248 the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Wichita are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is transportation equipment, construction, and health care. The average travel time to work is about 18 minutes. More than 25.3% of Wichita residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 8.1%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Wichita is 8.8%, which is greater than Kansas's average of 6.3%.

The percentage of Wichita residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 46.7%, is less than both the national and state average. Mizpah Baptist Church, Christ the King Lutheran Church and Christ the King Roman Catholic Church are some of the churches located in Wichita. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the United Methodist Church.

Wichita is home to the Pleasant Valley and the Wichita Plaza as well as Hyde Park and Watson Park. Shopping centers in the area include Central Heights Shopping Mall, Airpark Shopping Center and Sweetbriar Shopping Center. Visitors to Wichita can choose from Afton Motel, Hampton Inn Wichita-East and Corral Motel for temporary stays in the area.