Becoming a Firefighter

Firefighters are responsible for responding to a variety of emergency situations, such as fires, hazardous materials incidents, and medical emergencies. They work for local, county, state, or federal government agencies as part of fire departments. Firefighters may also work in volunteer departments in rural areas. Their duties include extinguishing fires, conducting search and rescue operations, providing emergency medical treatment to injured persons, preventing property damage from fire, and educating the public on fire safety and prevention.

A large number of people wish to become firefighters, but it is a very difficult job to get. Thousands of applicants apply for only a few available positions. Some are unsuccessful because they lack the right qualifications, or they fail to pass the written exam, the oral interview, the physical agility test, or the background investigation. Some will be disqualified because of a negative medical history or a criminal record. Others simply do not have the physical strength and stamina required to perform the job.

In order to be successful, you must understand that being a firefighter is not for everyone. It is a dangerous profession that requires you to be physically strong, mentally alert, and emotionally mature. You must be able to cope with the stress and danger of working at a scene of an emergency and the emotional trauma that often results from seeing dead and wounded persons. You must be able to make good decisions under pressure, think on your feet, and be prepared to take action without much time to evaluate the situation.

Although popular dramas depict firefighters rushing into burning buildings, most of the calls that fire departments respond to are for medical reasons rather than fires. Therefore, firefighters must be trained emergency medical technicians as well as firefighters. They must be able to assess the situation and provide immediate care and treatment for injured persons until paramedics arrive on the scene. Firefighters are on call for long shifts that can last up to 48 hours and must be able to live and sleep at the station between shifts.

Firefighters are the first line of defense in protecting our communities. As first responders to disasters, medical emergencies and terrorist attacks, firefighters are always there when we need them most. In addition to fighting fires and responding to other emergencies, firefighters conduct hazardous material investigations, test hydrants, and educate the community about fire safety.

If you are interested in becoming a firefighter, the best way to gain hands-on experience is through a department’s cadet, volunteer, reserve, or paid on-call program. Ask your local fire department or your fire science instructor for more information. Be sure to talk with current and retired firefighters in your area. Find out what they enjoy about the job and what they would recommend for those who are considering this career. In addition, visit the fire stations in your area and speak with the firefighters there. This will help you stand out as a candidate during the interview process.

Comments Off on Becoming a Firefighter