The Job of a Firefighter


A firefighter is a person trained to fight and extinguish fires and to rescue persons from hazardous situations. People in this career are often called firefighters or firemen (although the latter is now more commonly used for males). A person can get a job as a firefighter by passing the entrance exam of a local fire department. Besides fighting fires, firefighters also perform emergency response duties and serve as prevention and education professionals.

Those interested in becoming firefighters should have a high school diploma and clean criminal record. They should also complete a training program at a fire academy. The academy will train them to do a variety of tasks, including fighting fires and performing emergency response and rescue duties. The training is rigorous, and the entry process into a firefighting career is competitive.

When an emergency call comes in, firefighters are usually required to leave their jobs and go to the scene as quickly as possible. Upon arrival at the site of an emergency, they must evaluate the situation and determine what actions to take. They might be required to perform salvage operations, such as removing items from buildings and attempting to protect undamaged materials. Firefighters can also be expected to use water streams mixed with extinguishing agents to quench the fire.

Firefighters can be employed by municipal, county or state fire departments, as well as by private companies, such as those that manufacture firefighting equipment or provide fire protection services. The basic requirements for those wishing to become firefighters are corrected 20/20 eyesight and a high school diploma. Some firefighters enter a firefighting academy that is offered by the municipality where they plan to work. Others may choose to enter the fire service through an apprenticeship program offered by their local fire agency or with wilderness firefighting agencies, state fire organizations and with the construction trades or fire-equipment manufacturers.

Whenever they are not on duty at an emergency site, firefighters remain at their fire stations and maintain and inspect their equipment. They also participate in regular drills to improve their skills and keep up with the latest firefighting techniques and protocols. They also serve as public educators by giving presentations and distributing educational materials about fire safety. Some firefighters work in hazardous materials units and are trained to control or clean up chemical spills or oil accidents.

The job of a firefighter can be extremely dangerous, especially when they are on the scene of an active wildfire or a structure fire. It is not uncommon for firefighters to be injured or killed while performing their duties. In addition, the long hours and physical demands of the profession can lead to burnout, stress and depression. To help prevent burnout and stress, firefighters are provided with psychological and medical support services. They are also encouraged to engage in leisure activities, such as hobbies and sports, to help relieve stress.

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