Public Service Firefighter
Salary Range Jobs Available
$30,800 - $79,400 26,600+

What Does a Firefighter Do?

If you tend to run toward danger instead of running away from it, here’s a job that can channel that energy. 

A firefighter, also called a fireman or firewoman, is a highly skilled first responder who works to prevent, fight and extinguish fires. A firefighter serves as an emergency medical technician (EMT), caring for those rescued from a fire or another emergency. Some firefighters also investigate the causes of fires, especially if arson is suspected.

Firefighters — many of them volunteers — are almost always the first ones on the scene, thus the name first responder. They respond to fires, traffic accidents, hazardous material spills and other emergencies. 

The work can be dangerous. For some, that’s part of the appeal.

These workers remain on call at the fire station, where they sleep, eat and perform other duties during shifts that typically last 24 hours. This odd schedule allows cities to provide continuous coverage, and it also builds camaraderie among the firefighters. 

If the thought of this rewarding job makes your heart beat faster, keep on reading to learn how to train to become a firefighter and hear from a career firefighter and a volunteer what’s it’s like to do this job.

Firefighters work together in a training exercise to put out a fire
Firefighters learn basic skills at fire academy, but each new fire adds to their education and training. (Credit: Matt Chesin/Unsplash)


  • Respond to emergencies
  • Fight fires using water hoses, fire extinguishers and water pumps
  • Enter burning buildings to rescue people and animals
  • Keep the fire station and fire equipment in good condition
  • Participate in fire safety educational activities 
  • Update records on service calls, equipment inspection or repair
  • Follow all safety protocols 
  • Conduct drills and training exercises
  • Participate in physical fitness training
  • Inspect buildings for fire safety (depends on role)

How To Become a Firefighter: FAQs

The bottom line:

This career isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s also not for adrenaline junkies because in between fire calls, there are mundane but necessary tasks to be completed. As mentioned, fire training and practice never stop. But for those who want to serve their communities and relish all aspects of the job, this is a rewarding career to consider. Check out SkillPointe’s training options and take the next step.

Firefighter Jeffrey Kaplan

What's it like being a firefighter?

"As long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a firefighter," says Jeffrey Kaplan, captain of the Englewood Fire Department in New Jersey. "The best way I can describe it is that I was the little boy who ran to the window when the firetrucks went by. I just never stopped running to the window."

The 43-year-old loves that no two calls are alike. Learn more about why he thinks becoming a firefighter is such a smart move.

PLUS: Hear from a volunteer firefighter what she thinks about the job. (By the way, she's also an electrician!)

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