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Career and Education Opportunities for Forest Fire Lookouts in Rapid City, South Dakota

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for forest fire lookouts in the Rapid City, South Dakota area. The national trend for forest fire lookouts sees this job pool growing by about 8.4% over the next eight years. In general, forest fire lookouts enforce fire regulations and inspect for forest fire hazards.

The average wage in the general category of Fire Control jobs is $24 per hour or $50,320 per year in South Dakota, and an average of $25 per hour or $51,548 per year nationwide. People working as forest fire lookouts can fill a number of jobs, such as: fire warden, wildfire prevention specialist, and fire apparatus engineer.

There are six schools of higher education in the Rapid City area, including one within twenty-five miles of Rapid City where you can get a degree to start your career as a forest fire lookout. Forest fire lookouts usually hold a Bachelor's degree, so it will take about four years to learn to be a forest fire lookout if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Forest Fire Lookout

In general, forest fire lookouts enforce fire regulations and inspect for forest fire hazards. They also report forest fires and weather conditions.

Forest fire lookouts relay messages about emergencies, accidents, locations of crew and staff, and fire hazard conditions. They also direct crews working on firelines during forest fires. Equally important, forest fire lookouts have to manage records and logbooks. They are often called upon to estimate sizes and characteristics of fires, and report findings to base camps by radio or telephone. They are expected to direct maintenance and up keep firefighting equipment, or requisition new equipment. Finally, forest fire lookouts examine and inventory firefighting equipment such as axes and fire extinguishers in order to establish  their condition.

Every day, forest fire lookouts are expected to be able to evaluate problems as they arise. They need to articulate ideas and problems. It is also important that they listen to and understand others in meetings.

It is important for forest fire lookouts to administer rules regarding sanitation and related forest rules. They are often called upon to locate forest fires on area maps, using azimuth sighters and known landmarks. They also patrol assigned areas, looking for forest fires and weather phenomena. They are sometimes expected to examine forest tracts and logging areas for fire hazards such as accumulated wastes or mishandling of combustibles, and recommend appropriate fire prevention measures. Somewhat less frequently, forest fire lookouts are also expected to restrict public access and recreational use of forest lands during critical fire seasons.

They also have to be able to restrict public access and recreational use of forest lands during critical fire seasons and examine and inventory firefighting equipment such as axes and fire extinguishers in order to establish  their condition. And finally, they sometimes have to examine forest tracts and logging areas for fire hazards such as accumulated wastes or mishandling of combustibles, and recommend appropriate fire prevention measures.

Like many other jobs, forest fire lookouts must want to innovate to meet new challenges and believe in cooperation and coordination.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Rapid City include:

  • Criminal Investigator. Investigate alleged or suspected criminal violations of Federal, state, or local laws to determine if evidence is sufficient to recommend prosecution.
  • Customs Inspector. Investigate and inspect persons, common carriers, and merchandise, arriving in or departing from the United States or between states to detect violations of immigration and customs laws and regulations.
  • 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 Firefighter. Control and suppress fires in forests or vacant public land.
  • Policeman. Patrol assigned areas to enforce laws and ordinances, regulate traffic, and arrest violators.
  • Sheriff. Enforce law and order in rural or unincorporated districts or serve legal processes of courts. May patrol courthouse, guard court or grand jury, or escort defendants.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Forest Fire Lookout Training

Western Dakota Technical Institute - Rapid City, SD

Western Dakota Technical Institute, 800 Mickelson Dr, Rapid City, SD 57703-4018. Western Dakota Technical Institute is a small school located in Rapid City, South Dakota. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs. It has 959 students and an admission rate of 97%. Western Dakota Technical Institute has an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated eleven students in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

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.

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: Rapid City, South Dakota

Rapid City, South Dakota
Rapid City, South Dakota photo by Xnatedawgx

Rapid City is situated in Pennington County, South Dakota. It has a population of over 65,491, which has grown by 9.9% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Rapid City, 84, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Rapid City are priced at $147,700 on average, which is near the state average. In 2008, one hundred ninety-eight new homes were constructed in Rapid City, down from two hundred fifty-three the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Rapid City are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, accommodation and food services, and public administration. The average commute to work is about 16 minutes. More than 26.7% of Rapid City residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 8.8%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Rapid City is 5.7%, which is greater than South Dakota's average of 4.5%.

The percentage of Rapid City residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 62.8%, is more than the national average but less than the state average. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church.

Rapid City is home to the Lazy J RV Park and Campground and the Pioneer Museum as well as College Park and Dinosaur Park. Shopping malls in the area include Haines Station Shopping Center, Baken Park Shopping Center and Baken Park Shopping Center. Visitors to Rapid City can choose from Lazy U Motel, Stardust Motel and Motel Town House for temporary stays in the area.