What Does a Career As a Firefighter Involve?

Firefighters respond to emergency calls and provide fire suppression, rescue and hazardous material services. They are also responsible for providing safety education and hazard reduction programs. Firefighters may also work with emergency medical and other services at disaster sites and are trained as emergency medical technicians (EMTs). The duties of firefighters involve working in high-stress situations requiring quick and accurate decision making under stressful conditions. They are on call for 24 hours and often work long shifts that require them to be physically available at short notice.

A career as a firefighter requires excellent physical fitness, mental acuity and emotional strength. A strong sense of community is also important as firefighters often live in the same area they work and have a close bond with their colleagues. Firefighters typically enjoy a high degree of job security and many benefits including competitive salaries, retirement plans and health insurance.

Firefighter jobs are found in the public sector at local, state and federal levels as well as with wilderness firefighting agencies, construction trades and equipment manufacturers. Applicants must meet minimum hiring criteria, which usually include corrected 20/20 eyesight, a high school diploma or equivalent and pass a background investigation and drug screening. The process may also include an oral interview, written examination and physical aptitude/agility exam. Additional qualifications vary by agency but might include completion of a fire academy and certification by the U.S. Fire Administration or the National Fire Protection Association. Some departments also offer internship or apprenticeship programs.

After passing the hiring criteria, a firefighter must complete an extensive training program at a fire academy. The program includes classroom instruction and hands-on practical skills development with a focus on the operation of various firefighting equipment and vehicles. The academy may also include live fire training. During this phase, students must possess the necessary strength and physical stamina to operate heavy machinery and perform rescues under stressful conditions.

Upon completion of the training program, firefighters are assigned to their station or unit. They must maintain their uniforms and keep up with departmental training and safety requirements. In addition to assisting with fire emergencies, they are usually involved in routine building inspections and responding to other community requests for assistance such as ambulance transports. Firefighters also prepare and deliver fire safety information and educational programs for children and community groups.

Some firefighters are members of the military and serve on active duty in war zones or other dangerous places. These firefighters are specially trained and equipped to deal with a variety of emergency situations that might arise on military bases or in combat areas. Firefighters have a unique and challenging job that is not for everyone. Personality traits that may be associated with this profession include being self-motivated, independent, stable, persistent and genuine with a liking for tasks that are tactile, physical or athletic. They are also often dependable, punctual and thrifty individuals. Some of them are also empathetic, considerate and generous.

Comments Off on What Does a Career As a Firefighter Involve?