How to Become a Firefighter

How to Become a Firefighter

Every day around the world many fires and other emergencies affect people’s lives and cause injury and destruction. Firefighters are essential to manage these fires and emergencies and help protect the public and get people medical attention.

What does a firefighter do?

Firefighters respond to fires and many other emergencies to minimize the damage, protect the public, and provide medical attention to those who need it. Their main job is to put out fires, but they are also responsible to respond to emergency situations such as medical emergencies, traffic accidents, and other situations. Firefighters must be prepared to respond as fast as possible to fires and other emergencies. They perform specific tasks assigned to them by a superior officer.

When responding to a fire, firefighters carry hoses, connect hoses to fire hydrants, operate the pump to send out water, climb ladders, and enter burning structures. They often use tools such as an ax to get through walls, doors, and debris. Their main concern is to find and rescue individuals. Firefighters often provide medical attention, try to salvage building contents, and ventilate areas that are filled with smoke.

What kind of training does a firefighter need?

Firefighters must have at least a high school diploma, but have completed some postsecondary education or even an associate degree in fire science. Beginning firefighters are trained for many weeks at their fire department’s academy or training center. Many fire departments have 4-year apprenticeship programs that are accredited. These programs combine on the job training with formal education and firefighters with extensive experience supervise students.

Majority of fire departments require firefighters to be certified as emergency medical technicians (EMTs). Some departments in large cities require firefighters to be certified as paramedics. Some firefighters attend U.S. National Fire Academy training sessions.

What are the prospects for a career as a firefighter?

Employment of firefighters is projected to grow as fast as average for all professions, increasing 12% from 2006 to 2016 (1). Population growth in metropolitan areas will increase the need for firefighters.

Job prospects are expected to be good, but with keen competition for job opportunities. Candidates who have good physical fitness and receive the highest scores on mechanical aptitude and physical conditioning examinations will have favorable prospects.

How much do firefighters make?

As of July 2009, the middle 50% of firefighters earned annual salaries between $30,331 and $50,551. The top 10% earned annual salaries of more than $59,756 (2).

A career as a firefighter is an excellent choice for individuals who have a strong sense of public service. Mental alertness, courage, self-discipline, strength, endurance, mechanical aptitude, and good teamwork skills are essential qualities of firefighters. Good judgment and initiative are also very important because firefighters are required to make fast decisions in stressful emergency situations.

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