A firefighter is a person trained in combating blazes and saving lives, as well as assisting with emergency situations such as medical incidents and accidents. The job can involve hazardous material handling and rescuing people from dangerous situations, often with heavy equipment and in high or precarious locations. The position requires an extensive training regimen to prepare for the demands of the job. It is a career with high levels of security and competitive salaries and benefits, including pensions and healthcare.
During training, firefighters learn how to communicate with each other through radio equipment and receive assignments from dispatchers. They must quickly and efficiently get to their call sites in order to respond to emergencies as they occur. Upon arrival at the scene, they must assess their situation and evaluate properties involved, the likelihood of a spread of fire or other hazardous materials and the needs of those in the affected area. They may operate hazardous materials response vehicles and use specialized equipment such as fire extinguishers, water pumps, rescue ladders, hoses and other tools to control and contain incidents.
Firefighters are also responsible for conducting community outreach, educating the public on fire safety and prevention and providing public workshops. They often carry out house fire safety checks and talk to school children to promote awareness. They are often called to disaster scenes to assist with cleanup operations and act as witnesses at accident scenes.
As is true with many emergency workers, firefighters may witness traumatic incidents that can lead to mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder. This can contribute to substance abuse and suicidal thoughts or actions among personnel. Firefighters also are at a higher risk of being injured in the line of duty, and are required to wear personal protective equipment to ensure their own safety.
The work of a firefighter involves long hours, which can lead to fatigue and difficulty in concentrating. It can be difficult to balance family and other obligations, but the satisfaction of a job well done is considerable for those who choose this profession. For those who are interested in a career as a firefighter, it is recommended that they undergo extensive research to make sure that this is the right choice for them. It is important to understand that while what they see on TV may be glamorous, the reality can be quite different, such as when they are required to perform company fire prevention inspections or engage in physical fitness training. These activities are not portrayed on television, which is why many new firefighters are surprised when they find themselves doing something that they did not expect from their job description. The following list provides an overview of the job duties of a firefighter. It is not intended to be a complete listing, as there are additional tasks that may be assigned to a firefighter on any given shift. It would be beneficial to speak with senior members of a local fire department to obtain more details regarding the daily responsibilities of a firefighter.