During a statewide virtual convening in April, the Far North Center of Excellence (COE) Director Sara Philips presented key findings from a newly released statewide report, “Entry-level Firefighting Careers in California: A Labor Market Analysis.”
Report findings address:
- Workforce demand and employment projections for four firefighting occupations
- A comparison of firefighting workforce and student demographics
- An analysis of community college programs preparing students to enter entry-level firefighting careers
Additionally, the Far North COE participated April 5 in a virtual conversation hosted by Valley Vision on the labor market outlook for firefighting careers in the state and Sacramento region. Panelists during the event confirmed findings from the report and discussed barriers to fire service career entry:
- Panelists confirmed that it can take years to enter the fire service, and the process can involve multiple hurdles that restrict the size of candidate pools.
- They discussed a need to start as early as high school with outreach, not only due to the complexity of requirements for job candidates, but to improve workforce diversity, with some fire departments offering girls camps and Explorer programs to address this issue.
- The pathways leading into the fire service are complex and nuanced, depending on whether an individual wishes to work for a local agency, Cal Fire, the federal government, or independent firefighting contractors. An additional complication is that individual fire departments may have different hiring needs making the process for candidates being hired even more specialized and further limiting the candidate pool.