Forest firefighters are categorized under the Strong Interest Inventory® Realistic Theme category and those attracted to this field tend to be rugged combined with a love of working outdoors. A secondary theme code associated with this career path is the Social theme which we associate with the concept of being helpful, in this case relating with the protection of forests or vacant public land. This career path works well with those that have a work style preference for an environment that emphasizes cooperation and a high stress tolerance. The Strong Interest Inventory® has been specially designed and refined over the better part of a century—since 1927—to help match individuals to a fulfilling career based on their personal characteristics, interests, preferred work environments and occupational likes and dislikes. Furthermore, The Strong Interest Inventory® Realistic Theme Code centers on constructing things and working using one’s hands to accomplish a specific goal. Moreover, individuals who score high within the Realistic Theme Code generally enjoy working with tools, or computers and other machines and machinery. Realistic careers usually are rewarding to people who value their individualism and independence.
Forest Firefighters work around the clock to control fires in forests or other vacant public land. While they may have several different job titles, for instance, Forest Fire Warden, Forest Ranger, Wildland Firefighter, and others, their job descriptions remain the same. First and foremost, Forest Firefighters are responsible for extinguishing flames of fires using shovels and water pumps. They may collaborate with other members of a firefighting crew to develop a strategy that maximizes efficiency, and preserves as much land as possible. Firefighters are also responsible for rescuing victims and animals, administering emergency medical attention and first-aid, and transporting them to better equipped medical facilities. In some cases, Firefighters may also need to transport supplies or cut brush or timber to reduce the likelihood of a particular area catching fire. Because of the physical intensity of this job, Firefighters also participate in strenuous physical training to maintain a high level of fitness.
Firefighters use a wide range of tools and technology both on a daily basis and in emergency situations. On a daily basis, they may need to use all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to transport themselves and their cargo, as well as wind gauges, binoculars, compasses, and other orienteering equipment. This allows them to navigate in difficult conditions, and to gather scientific information about the weather conditions. They should be proficient with saws, ladders, machetes, and other hardware in order to remove dangerous brush from high-risk areas. In emergencies, Forest Firefighters drive and operate fire or rescue trucks, use fire hoses, wear fire retardant clothing and footwear, and use protective gloves and other forms of safety equipment. They use stretchers, bandages, and other first-aid equipment, especially when rescuing people or animals in danger. Depending on their exact responsibilities, it is possible that Firefighters be comfortable with fire incident reporting systems, as well as Microsoft Office, web browser, and email interfaces, especially if they have management responsibilities.
Most Firefighters have a high school diploma. They benefit from a knowledge of administration and management as well as public safety. Firefighters who work with children or school systems to raise awareness of fire safety practices may also benefit from a knowledge of education and customer service. Those who are actively on the ground controlling fires, should have a foundation in local geography and transportation. The ability to communicate fluently in English and other relevant languages, as well as to follow directions and listen closely are important for Firefighters.
A Forest Firefighter’s salary and employment largely depends on their state of residence. For instance, in Texas, their salary can vary from $27,800 at the low end to nearly $75,000 at the high end. On the other hand, in California, a Forest Firefighter’s salary is well over the national average – at $36,800 at the low end, and over $100,000 at the high end. Nation-wide, the firefighter’s employment is expected to rise about 5% before 2024. However, fire-prone states, like Utah, Texas, and Colorado, are expected to hire at rates as high as 23% before 2024.
Below are some employment trends for Forest Firefighters:
- Median Forest Firefighter’s Salary: $22.07/hour; $45,970 annually
- Employment: 327,000 employees
- Projected growth (2012-2022): Average (5% to 8%)
- Projected job openings (2012-2022): 112,600
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- Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data and 2012-2022 employment projections Onetonline.org