A firefighter is a specialist who applies fire safety, prevention, and fire elimination as a profession. They have many roles whether it may be operating firefighting equipment such as fire trucks or rescue ladders to organizing strategies to deal with various fire related emergencies. They are responsible for keeping people and property safe with the application of fire combative procedures and rescue techniques.
Although it is dependent on the area you are going to enlist in, a high school diploma or a GED can be sufficient to land a job as a firefighter. In most cases becoming a firefighter usually requires a few college credits. Completion of short courses like First Aid and Health and Safety related training can also get you noticed when applying for the job.
Firefighters are required to train for maximum physical fitness to be able to deal with the intense work conditions. They are also responsible in maintaining and cleaning firefighting equipment. They preserve the welfare of people and property by applying firefighting and rescue techniques. As the first people to arrive at the scene, firefighters also provide first response emergency medical service, vehicle extraction, and search & rescue. They also deal with hazardous material containment and bushfire abatement. Furthermore, they support the community by performing support roles in times of disaster.
Aside from the usual fire combating duties, firefighters also serve to educate the public about the importance of fire safety through active participation in demonstrations. This is usually done in schools or town halls.
To be eligible as a firefighter, you must be at least 18 – 21 years of age and not older than 29. Physical fitness is very important in order to deal with emergency situations. Examples of situations that need great physical fitness are: lifting heavy equipment and personal respiratory gear, extracting victims from buildings, climbing long flights of stairs, and breaking open doors. Although training in various first response procedures are provided, additional background and knowledge in first aid and health & safety is valuable.
The most important part to becoming a firefighter is attitude. You must be positive and willing to handle any type of emergency situation with calm efficiency. Problem solving and organizational skills are paramount because peoples’ lives depend on the effectiveness of first responders.
The average salary for a firefighter is $45,000 and also depends on the area or state. There are certain factors that can affect wages like rank and additional skills. For example, a firefighter that also drives a fire truck may be paid slightly more due to greater responsibilities. As your rank increases so will your salary and there are many ranks as a firefighter that you can work your way up. These include Lieutenant, Captain, Deputy Fire Chief, Fire Chief and many others. Because firefighting is a government service, the health care and retirement benefits exceed that of other employers. Working as a firefighter is emotionally rewarding as well.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/