What Do Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists Do?
The role of forest fire inspectors is essential when it comes to keeping the nation’s forests safe from deadly fires. These individuals enforce local fire regulations and regularly inspect forests to eliminate potential fire hazards. These specialists also offer recommendations on how to set up control measures and perform fire prevention activities. If a fire is present, inspectors are often the front line for reporting the fire to the appropriate authorities and monitoring weather conditions to predict how fires will shift or change.
Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists Skills and Abilities
Inspectors and prevention specialists need to be equipped with problem sensitivity and critical thinking skills in order to anticipate when a fire might occur and then use complex problem solving to prevent or curb the fire before it gets out of control. Being able to coordinate with multiple authorities is also a key element of doing this type of work. An ability to provide public safety and security measures is also necessary, as well as the ability to communicate with forestry personnel, public safety officials, and the general public.
Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists Duties
Since the focus is on prevention, much of the regular work of forest fire inspectors is to monitor and anticipate dangers within the forest. The ability to document and report important information is also needed. An understanding of rules, regulations and standards is essential to effectively performing this role. Once a danger has been assessed, then the job requirements shift to containing and eliminating the problem safely and efficiently. Here is a breakdown of tasks associated with this position:
- Monitor and promote the status of potential fire conditions
- Gather and report data on local weather conditions
- Regularly check campsites and other areas where fires might be present for compliance
- Inspect forests for potential fire hazards
- Maintain firefighting equipment
- Administer local regulations
- Report emergencies and fires and relay messages to the proper authorities
- Operate firefighting equipment
- Assess the various characteristics of forest fires
- Restrict access to potentially dangerous areas
Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists Tools and Technology
There are a variety of tools required for this type of work. Being able to access remote areas with all terrain vehicles is required. The ability to use standard tools such as axes and saws can be necessary to remove downed trees or get to overgrown areas. The ability to use orienteering and GPS to find a location is a valuable asset. Knowledge of fire incident reporting systems and mapping software are key elements to performing this job well.
Education and Training for Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists
Due to the importance and specialized nature of this type of work, coursework in fire science, firefighting, environmental regulations, and forest investigation are all important. However, all that is required for most of these positions is a high school diploma or equivalent. The majority of the training is provided on the job. That being said, over 22% of professionals in this role have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists Salary
The occupational wage for forest fire inspectors averages around $36,400 annually. This is about $17.52 an hour. The top 10% of inspectors earn $74,000, which makes this career choice fairly appealing. However, the bottom 10% only earns around $24,500 a year.
Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists Jobs by Geography
There are only around 1,900 forest fire inspector and prevention specialist jobs across the United States. The bulk of this type of work will be carried out in areas that have a significant amount of forests and wildland areas. The highest concentration of these positions occurs in New Hampshire and Oklahoma. Arkansas, Tennessee, and Georgia also have higher numbers than other areas of the country.