What Does it Take to Be a Firefighter?

Firefighter is the job title given to an individual whose career involves emergency rescue, fighting fires and providing assistance with other incidents such as natural disasters and chemical spills. The occupation is considered to be highly challenging but rewarding at the same time. A high school diploma or 2 year degree is required to become a firefighter and the training that goes into achieving this career goal requires physical and mental strength and stamina as well as a great deal of time and effort.

Upon arriving at the scene of an emergency, firefighters must assess the situation. They must determine the properties of the fire, its probability of spreading and the needs of the victims in order to deal with the emergency appropriately. This is done by observing the fire, obtaining information from witnesses and analyzing the effects of weather conditions on the emergency site.

Fire fighters must also be highly trained medical professionals and can provide assistance with emergency medical care. They often assist with search and rescue operations, including rescuing trapped victims from automobile crashes, building collapses and flood channels. Firefighters are also responsible for the removal of hazardous materials from the site of an accident. These can include chemicals such as cyanide, chlorine and methanol as well as petroleum products.

A firefighter is also required to be skilled in the use of a variety of specialized equipment. These may include fire pumps, water tanks, hydraulic vehicles and fire hoses. Firefighters must also be familiar with various types of hazards and dangers that can be encountered at the emergency site such as toxic smoke, dangerous gases, thermal and electrical hazards, electrical shock, structural failures and flooding.

The firefighting profession is physically demanding and extremely dangerous. It is estimated that there are more than 100 firefighter fatalities in the United States each year. In addition, many firefighters suffer injuries that can include burns, cuts, respiratory illnesses and psychological trauma. The risk of cancer is high for firefighters as well, due to the prolonged exposure to carcinogenic compounds that are produced during the burning of a fire.

Most firefighters work out of a fire station which is their home base when they are not responding to an emergency. They are required to maintain the station, its living quarters, tools and equipment in good working condition. Firefighters are also required to participate in regular company fire prevention inspections, fire/rescue training and physical fitness training. TV shows often show the life of a firefighter as being exciting and glamorous. This is far from the truth as there are countless hours of unglamorous administrative work that must be completed by each firefighter, in addition to the adrenaline rush of battling flames and saving lives. It is no wonder that there are thousands of candidates for a few potential firefighter jobs. To become a firefighter requires a huge amount of preparation and dedication in addition to a considerable amount of money to fund the education and physical training requirements.

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