Firefighters work to save lives and property from dangerous situations, such as fires and accidents. They may also respond to medical emergencies or disasters. Whether you are interested in becoming a firefighter or know someone who is, understanding the role, educational qualifications and training will help you decide whether this job is right for you.
Fires can be caused by several factors, including fuel, oxygen and heat. To extinguish a fire, firefighters use water and other chemical retardants to deprive the fire of its three main elements. They also use ladders, pumps and other tools to enter burning buildings or other structures, rescue victims and remove hazardous materials from sites.
The basic requirements for a firefighter are a high school diploma, a clean criminal record and corrected 20/20 eyesight. Most fire departments require candidates to attend a firefighting academy, either at a federal, state or local level.
There are several firefighting career paths, with each taking a different amount of time to complete. Some programs offer a certificate, while others lead to a bachelor’s degree in fire science. You’ll also need to earn emergency medical technician (EMT) certifications and pass a medical examination.
Those who want to become firefighters may choose to complete an apprenticeship or participate in a firefighter school program, depending on the fire department or agency that hires you. These programs may be part of a community college or technical college and involve on-the-job training.
A career as a firefighter is a difficult and demanding one. It requires a strong desire to serve your community and protect life, property and the environment.
Your duties as a firefighter vary by region and by the type of fire you fight. Some fires require immediate response, such as fires in commercial and residential buildings or on construction sites. Other fires, such as wildfires and explosions, require extensive preplanning and planning before they can be tackled.
In addition to the physical aspects of the job, firefighters must be able to communicate effectively with fellow workers. This includes directing and overseeing the work of other firefighters, as well as communicating with clients and customers.
Some firefighters also perform public education and outreach activities, including talking to youth about fire prevention. They may also be responsible for enforcing safety regulations on construction sites, businesses and homes.
Besides being physically fit, firefighters must be knowledgeable in first aid and CPR techniques. These skills can help firefighters administer treatment for injured victims and save lives.
Firefighters often work long shifts, and schedules vary by district. Some stations allow for 24 hours on and 48 hours off, while others are on a rotating basis.
To keep up with the pace of the job, most firefighters need to exercise on a regular basis. They should also take part in fitness testing to make sure they are physically capable of performing the duties of a firefighter.
Despite the challenges of the job, a career as a firefighter can be rewarding and exciting. The labor market for firefighters is expected to grow about 28% by 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.