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Career and Education Opportunities for Fire Fighters in Portland, Maine

Fire fighters can find many career and educational opportunities in the Portland, Maine area. Currently, 1,340 people work as fire fighters in Maine. This is expected to grow 11% to 1,490 people by 2016. This is not quite as good as the national trend for fire fighters, which sees this job pool growing by about 18.5% over the next eight years. In general, fire fighters control and extinguish municipal fires, protect life and property and conduct rescue efforts.

The income of a fire fighter is about $16 per hour or $33,620 annually on average in Maine. In the U.S. as a whole, their income is about $21 per hour or $44,260 yearly on average. Fire fighters earn less than people working in the category of Fire Control generally in Maine and less than people in the Fire Control category nationally. People working as fire fighters can fill a number of jobs, such as: fire alarm operator, crash crew, and apparatus operator.

There are twenty-three schools of higher education in the Portland area, including one within twenty-five miles of Portland where you can get a degree to start your career as a fire fighter. The most common level of education for fire fighters is a post-secondary certificate. You can expect to spend a short time training to become a fire fighter if you already have a high school diploma.


In general, fire fighters control and extinguish municipal fires, protect life and property and conduct rescue efforts.

Fire fighters decide on and attach hose nozzles, depending on fire type, and direct streams of water or chemicals onto fires. They also lay hose lines and connect them to water supplies. Equally important, fire fighters have to respond to fire alarms and other calls for assistance. They are often called upon to dress with equipment such as fire resistant clothing and breathing apparatus. They are expected to clean and maintain fire stations and fire fighting equipment and apparatus. Finally, fire fighters ready written reports that detail specifics of fire incidents.

Every day, fire fighters are expected to be able to lift, push and move large and heavy objects. They need to respond quickly in general. It is also important that they exert themselves over and over again for long periods of time.

It is important for fire fighters to spray foam onto runways and rescue aircraft crew and passengers in air-crash emergencies. They are often called upon to examine buildings for fire hazards and adherence to fire prevention ordinances, testing and checking smoke alarms and fire suppression equipment as needed. They also salvage property by removing broken glass, pumping out water, and ventilating buildings to remove smoke. They are sometimes expected to establish firelines to inhibit unauthorized persons from entering areas near fires. Somewhat less frequently, fire fighters are also expected to examine fire sites after flames have been extinguished to insure that there is no further danger.

Fire fighters sometimes are asked to protect property from water and smoke using waterproof salvage covers and deodorants. They also have to be able to take action to contain hazardous chemicals that might catch fire or spill and participate in courses, seminars and conferences, and study fire science literature, to learn firefighting techniques. And finally, they sometimes have to lay hose lines and connect them to water supplies.

Like many other jobs, fire fighters must be reliable and believe in cooperation and coordination.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Portland include:

  • Fire Code Inspector. Inspect buildings and equipment to detect fire hazards and enforce state and local regulations.
  • 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.
  • Forest Firefighter. Control and suppress fires in forests or vacant public land.


Southern Maine Community College - South Portland, ME

Southern Maine Community College, 2 Fort Road, South Portland, ME 04106-1698. Southern Maine Community College is a medium sized college located in South Portland, Maine. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs. It has 5,654 students and an admission rate of 68%. Southern Maine Community College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated one and thirty-nine 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.


Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine photo by Pauk

Portland is situated in Cumberland County, Maine. It has a population of over 62,561, which has shrunk by 2.6% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Portland, 102, is above the national average. New single-family homes in Portland are priced at $164,700 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, twenty-three new homes were built in Portland, down from thirty-two the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Portland are health care, educational services, and finance and insurance. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, accommodation and food services, and construction. The average commute to work is about 19 minutes. More than 36.4% of Portland residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 13.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Portland is 6.3%, which is less than Maine's average of 7.6%. About 14.1% of Portland's residents are below the poverty line, which is worse than the state average.

The percentage of Portland residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 40.4%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. Mariners Church, Swedenborgian Church and Stroudwater Christian Church are among the churches located in Portland. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church.

Portland is home to the Cumberland Wharf and the Browns Wharf as well as Longfellow Square and Hadlock Field. Shopping centers in the area include Mill Creek Shopping Center, Monument Square Shopping Center and Portland East Shopping Center. Visitors to Portland can choose from Motel 6, Fairfield Inn Portland Airport and Ramada Limited Portland for temporary stays in the area.