Requirements to Become a Firefighter

Firefighters work on emergency calls to rescue and care for people in danger, extinguish fires or perform other tasks such as cleaning up hazardous materials. Depending on the type of call, they may also provide medical assistance. They are sworn public safety officers in most jurisdictions and are not armed, but many do have some police powers. Some have further training to become fire inspectors or investigators.

The responsibilities of firefighters vary from country to country, but in the United States they are usually divided into five borough commands with their own commander, who reports to a division chief, deputy chief or chief of fire prevention. The divisions are then broken down into four to seven battalions, with each led by a battalion chief. Within a battalion are several fire companies. The FDNY currently has 14 companies, including Rescue Company 1, Ladder Company 1 and Marine Company 1.

Besides responding to fires and emergencies, firefighters perform other duties such as rescue, extrication and hazardous material control. They are trained in the use of various equipment, tools and vehicles such as fire engines, ladders, boats and aerial apparatus. They also train on medical procedures, including administering first aid and assisting in emergency transports. Firefighters are often required to make forced entries into grounds and structures to gain access to and rescue people. They are also trained to assess their own and others’ safety by examining structures for structural damage, cracks and charring.

They are also trained to handle a variety of other situations such as automobile accidents, life-threatening medical emergencies and false alarms. They must be expert at quickly getting themselves into their gear/equipment and onto emergency vehicles at the sound of a pager, regardless of what they may be doing at that time. They may be required to work on holidays, and can be away from home for days during severe emergencies.

Firefighters often work on a schedule of two day shifts, followed by two nights, with four days off. They are expected to volunteer for overtime (extra shifts). Some firefighters may have other jobs such as construction, but their employer must ensure that they live or work no more than a certain distance from their station. They also carry a pager and must be available to respond to an emergency at any time.

The requirements to become a firefighter vary by department and location, but generally include meeting the basic qualifications such as corrected 20/20 vision and a high school diploma. Most departments recruit candidates through a fire academy that follows U.S. Fire Administration guidelines, but you can also find firefighter positions with wilderness firefighting agencies, in the construction trades and with fire-equipment manufacturers and suppliers. You can also attend college to earn advanced certifications or a bachelor’s degree in fire science, which can boost your rank and career prospects. Many firefighters also participate in social events to raise funds for their local firehouses.

Comments Off on Requirements to Become a Firefighter