Firefighters are first responders who control and extinguish fires that threaten human life or property, rescue people from dangerous situations, and provide emergency medical care. Their work is dangerous and stressful, and they must be quick-thinking to make decisions under pressure. Depending on the nature of an incident, they may be required to enter unsafe environments, carry heavy equipment, or perform hazardous operations. They also need to be physically fit and able to work long shifts under strenuous conditions. The career of a firefighter requires extensive training and certification, often followed by years of service.
Firemen use a variety of tools to fight and extinguish fires, including water streams, foam systems, and chemical sprays. They need to know how to operate and maintain all the equipment they use. Firefighters must have excellent physical fitness and the ability to operate in adverse locations and conditions, as well as endure strenuous and exhaustive training. They must also possess courage and the willingness to take calculated risks in hazardous situations.
In addition to fighting fires, firefighters must be able to rescue trapped people from a wide range of situations including car crashes, cave-ins, structure collapses, flood channels and other disasters. They also need to be able to assess the scene and determine the safest path for evacuation. In some cases, they must be able to free victims using specialized tools. Once a victim is rescued, firefighters must provide immediate emergency care and follow procedures to treat injuries. They must also be able to communicate effectively and collaborate with other members of the emergency response team, such as paramedics.
When not at the fire scene, firefighters spend a lot of time cleaning and maintaining their living quarters, their station and all equipment. They must also be able to read and understand technical material and documents, as well as the rules and regulations of their department. Firefighters must also be able to pass a rigorous physical assessment test that measures endurance, strength, aerobic capacity and agility.
As they move up in rank, firefighters become captains, battalion chiefs and fire chiefs, as well as take on special assignments such as arson investigation, fire prevention and education, or training. They can also choose to branch out into fields such as fire protection engineering or public safety management.
The selection process for becoming a firefighter can vary from region to region and even from department to department, but most have the same basic phases. These include a written examination, oral interview and background investigation. In the interview, the panel will evaluate a candidate’s character, personality and suitability for the job, as well as his or her short-term and lifetime goals. They will also ask about a candidate’s experience and education. They may also discuss his or her motivation and dedication to the profession. The interview process is typically very competitive and stressful. A poor interview can disqualify a strong candidate, so it is important to prepare thoroughly for it.