Often seen as the first responders to fires, ambulance calls and other emergencies, firefighters are men and women who work hard to save lives. Their responsibilities include fighting fires, rescuing people, acting as emergency medical technicians (EMT), and investigating the causes of fires and accidents.
A firefighter’s job can be very stressful, but it also provides a rewarding career. The job involves 24-hour shifts, a demanding physical fitness program and a high degree of commitment to service. In addition to the physical requirements, you must have a passion for saving lives and protecting property.
How to become a firefighter
To be a firefighter, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent, certification as an emergency medical technician and some firefighting experience. You may also need specialized training in firefighting and health and safety. You can find jobs in local, state or federal agencies or private companies that provide fire protection.
How to get a firefighting job
You can join the fire service with a high school diploma, but most fire services require you to complete at least one year of training before you can start working as a firefighter. You can also pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree in an area such as emergency management, firefighting, health and safety, or public safety.
Qualifications for becoming a firefighter vary by city or county, but you can expect to pass written and psychological tests. Most departments will also require you to take a fitness test, and you may need to complete an interview.
How to get a job as a firefighter
A firefighter’s duties are varied, from responding to a single call for help to working at a fire station day in and day out. In some cases, firefighters are responsible for a particular division within the department, such as the medical or training sections. In other cases, the firefighter may be in charge of several stations.
Some firefighters are promoted to the rank of captain, where they are in charge of a fire station and its crew. Others become chiefs, where they are responsible for the whole fire department.
When it comes to achieving leadership roles in the fire service, women can encounter challenges. Having to work on a team with men who are often less empathetic and more aggressive can cause some women to feel uncomfortable, stressed or unsure of their ability.
Many female firefighters have been harassed and made to feel unwelcome by male colleagues, which can negatively affect their performance on the job. These harassment incidents can result in a lack of confidence, which can lead to poor performance and a decreased willingness to do the best job they can for their agency or community.
In the future, it will be important to identify gender differences and work to address them, including ensuring that everyone is clear on how the standard operating procedures are applied, and that adversity to females does not occur. This will ensure that women can be successful in their careers, while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.