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Career and Education Opportunities for Forest Firefighters in Worcester, Massachusetts

Forest firefighter career and educational opportunities abound in Worcester, Massachusetts. There are currently 12,710 working forest firefighters in Massachusetts; this should grow by 4% to about 13,240 working forest firefighters in the state 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%. Forest firefighters generally 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 $49,210 annually on average in Massachusetts and about $21 per hour or $44,260 per year on average in the U.S. as a whole. Forest firefighters earn less than people working in the category of Fire Control generally in Massachusetts and less than people in the Fire Control category nationally. Forest firefighters work in a variety of jobs, including: engine boss, smoke chaser, and forestry crew chief.

The Worcester area is home to thirty-nine schools of higher education, including one within twenty-five miles of Worcester where you can get a degree as a forest firefighter. Forest firefighters usually hold a high school diploma or GED, so 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 Worcester 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.
  • Lifeguard. Monitor recreational areas, such as pools, beaches, or ski slopes to provide assistance and protection to participants.
  • Security Guard. Guard, patrol, or monitor premises to prevent theft, violence, or infractions of rules.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Forest Firefighter Training

Anna Maria College - Paxton, MA

Anna Maria College, 50 Sunset Lane, Paxton, MA 01612-1198. Anna Maria College is a small college located in Paxton, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 1,333 students and an admission rate of 89%. Anna Maria College has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated one and three students respectively 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: Worcester, Massachusetts

Worcester, Massachusetts
Worcester, Massachusetts photo by Yassie

Worcester is located in Worcester County, Massachusetts. It has a population of over 175,011, which has grown by 1.4% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Worcester, 121, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in Worcester cost $108,900 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, sixty-one new homes were constructed in Worcester, down from two hundred fourteen the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Worcester are health care, educational services, and finance and insurance. For men, it is educational services, construction, and health care. The average commute to work is about 22 minutes. More than 23.3% of Worcester residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 9.8%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Worcester is 9.9%, which is greater than Massachusetts's average of 8.4%.

The percentage of Worcester residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 57.4%, is more than the national average but less than the state average. Burncoat Baptist Church, United Congregational Church and Unitarian Universalist Church are among the churches located in Worcester. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the United Church of Christ and the Episcopal Church.

Worcester is home to the Tatnuck Country Club and the Massachusetts Biotech Research Park as well as Ty Cobb Park and General Foley Stadium. Shopping malls in the area include Lincoln Plaza Shopping Center, Mid Town Mall and Norwich Place Shopping Center. Visitors to Worcester can choose from Days Inn, Hampton Inn and Maple Manor Hotel for temporary stays in the area.