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Career and Education Opportunities for Forest Firefighters in Detroit, Michigan

Forest firefighters can find many career and educational opportunities in the Detroit, Michigan area. There are currently 6,730 working forest firefighters in Michigan; this should grow by 6% to about 7,170 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.

Income for forest firefighters is about $20 hourly or $43,510 annually on average in Michigan. Nationally, their income is about $21 hourly or $44,260 per year. Earnings for forest firefighters are not quite as good as earnings in the general category of Fire Control in Michigan and not quite as good as general Fire Control category earnings nationally. Jobs in this field include: ranger, fire fighter, and smoke chaser.

There are three schools within twenty-five miles of Detroit where you can study to be a forest firefighter, among seventy-three schools of higher education total in the Detroit area. 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 Detroit 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

Schoolcraft College - Livonia, MI

Schoolcraft College, 18600 Haggerty Road, Livonia, MI 48152-2696. Schoolcraft College is a large college located in Livonia, Michigan. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 12,560 students. Schoolcraft College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated seventeen and twenty-four students respectively in 2008.

Madonna University - Livonia, MI

Madonna University, 36600 Schoolcraft Rd, Livonia, MI 48150-1176. Madonna University is a small university located in Livonia, Michigan. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 4,015 students and an admission rate of 76%. Madonna University has associate's degree, two to four year, and bachelor's degree programs in Fire Science/Firefighting.

Oakland Community College - Bloomfield Hills, MI

Oakland Community College, 2480 Opdyke Rd, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304-2266. Oakland Community College is a large college located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 24,957 students. Oakland Community College has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated one and twelve 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.


Detroit, Michigan
Detroit, Michigan photo by Durova

Detroit is located in Wayne County, Michigan. It has a population of over 912,062, which has shrunk by 4.1% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Detroit, 86, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Detroit are priced at $108,900 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, eighty-five new homes were built in Detroit, down from one hundred fifty-four the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Detroit are health care, educational services, and transportation equipment. For men, it is transportation equipment, construction, and administrative and support and waste management services. The average commute to work is about 28 minutes. More than 11.0% of Detroit residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 4.2%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Detroit is 27.0%, which is greater than Michigan's average of 14.3%.

The percentage of Detroit residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 37.7%, is less than both the national and state average. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the Lutheran Church.

Detroit is home to the Memorial Park Marina and the Detroit Golf Club as well as Chene Park and Mallett Playground. Visitors to Detroit can choose from Corktown Inn, Clark's Motel and Days Inn of Downtown Detroit for temporary stays in the area.