Firefighters are first responders called to control and extinguish fires, rescue people from hazardous situations and provide emergency medical services. Their duties and responsibilities also include prevention activities such as inspections, surveys, and training programs. They may also be required to provide security at disaster sites and conduct investigations of industrial accidents. They must be prepared to perform these duties in a variety of settings including residential, commercial, and industrial buildings; workplaces; and outdoor areas such as parks and wilderness. They also work to protect the environment by removing and cleaning up hazardous materials.
A firefighter’s typical working day is long and stressful. They are often required to work outside in inclement weather. They must be physically fit and capable of passing a strenuous physical examination and extensive background check. They must also be willing to undergo ongoing physical and psychological training. They are also exposed to dangerous chemicals, smoke inhalation, heat and dust. Despite these risks, firefighters are typically highly motivated to do their job.
Upon arriving at the scene of an emergency, they evaluate the situation to determine the best course of action. They must quickly assess the size and intensity of the fire, its proximity to structures or populated areas, and the potential impact on public safety. Firefighters must also determine the availability of water to extinguish the fire and may need to connect hoses to hydrants and operate pumps. They must also use a wide range of tools to attack the fire, such as axes, ladders, chemical sprays and fire hoses.
Once a fire has been extinguished, they must continue to monitor the scene and may need to remain there for days at a time. They must be able to communicate clearly with other members of the fire department and the general public. Firefighters may also be required to investigate suspicious fires, perform routine maintenance on equipment and prepare reports about incidents.
Some firefighters are also required to work with other emergency response teams such as police and ambulance. They may also be involved in hazardous material emergencies and searches for missing persons. Some firefighters work in the military, fighting fires and other emergencies on bases and in combat zones.
In addition to responding to calls, firefighters also spend long periods of time at the station performing administrative duties such as training, cleaning, and conducting inspections. They are required to maintain detailed records and are responsible for keeping up to date on all departmental policies and procedures.
Those interested in becoming fire fighters should consider participating in ride-along exercises with their local fire departments. In addition, they should take a CPR class from the Red Cross. Then, they should begin to get into good physical shape as they will be required to pass a rigorous physical exam and background check before being hired by the fire department. It is recommended that they participate in weightlifting and other strength training to help prepare for these demands.