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Career and Education Opportunities for Forest Firefighters in Salem, Oregon

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for forest firefighters in the Salem, Oregon area. There are currently 3,420 working forest firefighters in Oregon; this should grow 12% to about 3,830 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%. In general, forest firefighters control and suppress fires in forests or vacant public land.

Forest firefighters earn approximately $23 hourly or $48,920 per year on average in Oregon. Nationally they average about $21 hourly or $44,260 per year. Forest firefighters earn less than people working in the category of Fire Control generally in Oregon and less than people in the Fire Control category nationally. Forest firefighters work in a variety of jobs, including: forestry technician , engine boss, and firefighter.

There are two schools within twenty-five miles of Salem where you can study to be a forest firefighter, among seventeen schools of higher education total in the Salem area. Given that the most common education level for forest firefighters is a high school diploma or GED, you can expect to spend only a short time training to become 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 Salem 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.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Forest Firefighter Training

Clackamas Community College - Oregon City, OR

Clackamas Community College, 19600 Molalla Ave, Oregon City, OR 97045-8980. Clackamas Community College is a medium sized college located in Oregon City, Oregon. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 6,701 students. Clackamas Community College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated one and three students respectively in 2008.

Chemeketa Community College - Salem, OR

Chemeketa Community College, 4000 Lancaster Dr NE, Salem, OR 97305. Chemeketa Community College is a large college located in Salem, Oregon. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 7,000 students. Chemeketa Community College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated one and forty-five 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: Salem, Oregon

Salem, Oregon
Salem, Oregon photo by Aboutmovies

Salem is located in Marion County, Oregon. It has a population of over 153,435, which has grown by 12.1% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Salem, 97, is near the national average. New single-family homes in Salem are valued at $215,800 on average, which is above the state average. In 2008, two hundred sixty-nine new homes were constructed in Salem, down from five hundred forty-three the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Salem are health care, public administration, and educational services. For men, it is construction, public administration, and educational services. The average commute to work is about 22 minutes. More than 24.1% of Salem residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 8.8%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Salem is 10.2%, which is less than Oregon's average of 10.6%.

The percentage of Salem residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 37.6%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Salem is home to the Oregon Women's Correctional Center and the Oregon State Penitentiary as well as Waldo Park and Olinger Pool Park. Visitors to Salem can choose from Red Lion Hotel-Salem Reservations, Shilo Inn Salem and Econo Lodge Salem for temporary stays in the area.