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Career and Education Opportunities for Forest Firefighters in Chesapeake, Virginia

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for forest firefighters in the Chesapeake, Virginia area. The national trend for forest firefighters sees this job pool growing by about 18.5% over the next eight years. Forest firefighters generally control and suppress fires in forests or vacant public land.

Forest firefighters earn approximately $20 per hour or $42,810 yearly on average in Virginia. Nationally they average about $21 hourly or $44,260 annually. Earnings for forest firefighters are not quite as good as earnings in the general category of Fire Control in Virginia and not quite as good as general Fire Control category earnings nationally. Forest firefighters work in a variety of jobs, including: smoke chaser, forest ranger, and fire fighter.

There are thirty-six schools of higher education in the Chesapeake area, including two within twenty-five miles of Chesapeake where you can get a degree to start your career as a forest firefighter. Forest firefighters usually hold a high school diploma or GED, so you can expect to spend only a short time studying 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 Chesapeake 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

Thomas Nelson Community College - Hampton, VA

Thomas Nelson Community College, 99 Thomas Nelson Drive, Hampton, VA 23666. Thomas Nelson Community College is a large college located in Hampton, Virginia. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 7,541 students. Thomas Nelson Community College has an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting.

Tidewater Community College - Norfolk, VA

Tidewater Community College, 121 College Place, Norfolk, VA 23510. Tidewater Community College is a large college located in Norfolk, Virginia. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 25,900 students. Tidewater Community College has an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated fifteen students 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.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Chesapeake, Virginia

Chesapeake, Virginia
Chesapeake, Virginia photo by BetacommandBot

Chesapeake is located in Chesapeake City County, Virginia. It has a population of over 220,111, which has grown by 10.5% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Chesapeake, 87, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Chesapeake are priced at $160,000 on average, which is well above the state average. In 2008, five hundred eighty-nine new homes were constructed in Chesapeake, down from seven hundred fifty-eight the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Chesapeake are educational services, health care, and public administration. For men, it is construction, public administration, and transportation equipment. The average travel time to work is about 25 minutes. More than 24.7% of Chesapeake residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 8.8%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Chesapeake is 6.1%, which is less than Virginia's average of 6.4%.

Pleasant Grove Church, Refuge Mission Church and Saint Andrews Church are among the churches located in Chesapeake.

Chesapeake is home to the Jacks Camp and the Portlock Yard as well as Cascade Park and Ford Park. Shopping malls in the area include Great Bridge Shopping Center, Greenbrier Mall Shopping Center and Poplar Hill Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Chesapeake can choose from Courtyard By Marriott, Chesapeake Travelodge Motel and Comfort Inn Bowers Hill for temporary stays in the area.