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Career and Education Opportunities for Forest Firefighters in St. Louis, Missouri

If you want to be a forest firefighter, the St. Louis, Missouri area offers many opportunities both for education and employment. Currently, 5,570 people work as forest firefighters in Missouri. This is expected to grow 6% to about 5,900 people by 2016. This is not quite as good as the national trend for forest firefighters, which sees this job pool growing by about 18.5% over the next eight years. In general, forest firefighters control and suppress fires in forests or vacant public land.

The income of a forest firefighter is about $20 hourly or $43,160 annually on average in Missouri. In the U.S. as a whole, their income is about $21 per hour or $44,260 per year on average. Incomes for forest firefighters are not quite as good as in the overall category of Fire Control in Missouri, and not quite as good as the overall Fire Control category nationally. People working as forest firefighters can fill a number of jobs, such as: forest ranger technician, smoke chaser, and smoke jumper.

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

Lewis and Clark Community College - Godfrey, IL

Lewis and Clark Community College, 5800 Godfrey Rd, Godfrey, IL 62035. Lewis and Clark Community College is a medium sized college located in Godfrey, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 8,016 students. Lewis and Clark Community College has less than one year, one to two year, and associate's degree programs in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated thirty, five, and ten students respectively in 2008.

Saint Louis Community College-Forest Park - Saint Louis, MO

Saint Louis Community College-Forest Park, 5600 Oakland Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63110. Saint Louis Community College-Forest Park is a medium sized college located in Saint Louis, Missouri. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 7,164 students. Saint Louis Community College-Forest Park has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated zero and three students respectively in 2008.

Southwestern Illinois College - Belleville, IL

Southwestern Illinois College, 2500 Carlyle Ave, Belleville, IL 62221-5899. Southwestern Illinois College is a large college located in Belleville, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 14,308 students. Southwestern Illinois College has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated 152 and seven 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: St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis, Missouri photo by Dschwen

St. Louis is located in St. Louis City County, Missouri. It has a population of over 354,361, which has grown by 1.8% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in St. Louis, 83, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in St. Louis are priced at $111,600 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, one hundred fifty-seven new homes were built in St. Louis, down from two hundred sixty-one the previous year.

The top three industries for women in St. Louis are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is accommodation and food services, construction, and educational services. The average travel time to work is about 25 minutes. More than 19.1% of St. Louis residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 7.6%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in St. Louis is 10.9%, which is greater than Missouri's average of 8.9%.

Nativity of Our Lord Church, Church of the Good Shepard and Church of the Holy Communion are among the churches located in St. Louis.

St. Louis is home to the Terminal Railroad Association Building and the Memorial Home as well as Washington Park and Willmore Park. Shopping malls in the area include Hampton Village Shopping Center and Loughborough Shopping Center.