Forest Firefighters

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About the Job

Control and suppress fires in forests or vacant public land.

It is also Called

  • Wildland Firefighter
  • Wildland Fire Fighter Specialist
  • Wildland Fire Fighter
  • Water and Fire Technician
  • Squad Boss
  • Smoke Jumper
  • Smoke Eater
  • Smoke Chaser
  • Rescue Worker
  • Ranger
View All

What They Do

  • Drop weighted paper streamers from aircraft to determine the speed and direction of the wind at fire sites.
  • Observe forest areas from fire lookout towers to spot potential problems.
  • Serve as fully trained lead helicopter crewmember and as helispot manager.
  • Perform forest maintenance and improvement tasks such as cutting brush, planting trees, building trails and marking timber.
  • Participate in fire prevention and inspection programs.
  • Organize fire caches, positioning equipment for the most effective response.
  • Take action to contain any hazardous chemicals that could catch fire, leak, or spill.
  • Transport personnel and cargo to and from fire areas.
  • Operate pumps connected to high-pressure hoses.
  • Maintain fire equipment and firehouse living quarters.


People who work in this occupation generally have the interest code: RS.

This means people who work in this occupation generally have Realistic interests, but also prefer Social environments.

Work Values

People who work in this occupation generally prize Achievement, but also value Relationships and Support in their jobs.

Things They Need to Know

  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • Public Safety and Security - Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
  • Geography - Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.

Things They Need to Be Able to Do

  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Service Orientation - Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Education Required

These occupations usually require a high school diploma.


In 2017, the average annual wage in Pennsylvania was $54,730 with most people making between $29,030 and $79,970


avg. annual growth

During 2014, this occupation employed approximately 4,980 people in Pennsylvania. It is projected that there will be 4,970 employed in 2024.

This occupation will have about 0 openings due to growth and about 150 replacement openings for approximately 150 total annual openings.

Pennsylvania Department of Education