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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 known as a fireman, is a highly skilled first responder who works to fight and extinguish fires. A firefighter also takes steps to prevent fires and act as an emergency medical technician (EMT).

Firefighters are almost always the first officials on the scene of a fire, car accident, hazard material spill or other emergency. The work can be very dangerous.

These workers — many of them volunteer firefighters — remain on call at the fire station, where they sleep, eat and perform other duties during shifts that often last 24 hours. 

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$ 24,000 - $ 94,000
$ 52,000
25,700+
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)

A Day In the Life

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Firefighter Jeffrey Kaplan

A Day In the Life

"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. Read on for more smart advice for anyone considering a career as a firefighter.

Job Responsibilities

  • Respond to emergencies
  • Extinguish fires using water hoses, fire extinguishers and water pumps
  • Enter burning buildings to rescue people and animals from the flames
  • Keep station and equipment in good work condition
  • Participate in public educational activities on fire safety
  • Update records on service calls, equipment inspection or repair
  • Follow safety policies and report unsafe activities and conditions
  • Conduct drills and training fire exercises
  • Participate in physical fitness training
  • Inspect buildings for fire safety measures

Firefighter Education + Training

Most employers require a high school diploma and training in emergency medical services. Prospective firefighters must pass written and physical tests, participate in interviews, complete training at a fire academy, and earn emergency medical training (EMT) certification. Applicants typically must be at least 18 years old and have a driver’s license. They must also pass drug screening.

Fire academy typically lasts about five months. The training includes firefighting and fire-prevention techniques, local building codes, use of firefighting tools and emergency medical tactics. Some firefighters attend  training sessions on anti-arson techniques, disaster preparedness and hazardous materials control.

You May Be a Good Fit To Become A Firefighter If You
  • Are physically fit
  • Have compassion and empathy
  • Have courage
  • Are calm under pressure
  • Are able to make quick, sometimes difficult decisions
  • Communicate well

Firefighter Training in Your Area

Coordinates

Fire Science, A.A.S.

Butler Community College
El Dorado (81.0 Miles)
Hutchinson Community College logo

Fire Science Certificate (A)

Hutchinson Community College
Hutchinson (138.4 Miles)
Hutchinson Community College logo

Fire Science Certificate (C)

Hutchinson Community College
Hutchinson (138.4 Miles)
Hutchinson Community College logo

Fire Science, A.A.S.

Hutchinson Community College
Hutchinson (138.4 Miles)

Fire Science, A.A.S.

Garden City Community College
Garden City (287.8 Miles)

Fire Science Certificate

Garden City Community College
Garden City (287.8 Miles)
Southern Arkansas University Tech logo

Fire and Emergency Response, A.A.S.

Southern Arkansas University Tech
Camden (292.5 Miles)
Southern Arkansas University Tech logo

Fire and Emergency Response Technical Certificate

Southern Arkansas University Tech
Camden (292.5 Miles)
Southern Arkansas University Tech logo

Fire and Emergency Response Certificate of Proficiency

Southern Arkansas University Tech
Camden (292.5 Miles)
Southern Arkansas University Tech logo

Fire Science Management, A.S.

Southern Arkansas University Tech
Camden (292.5 Miles)
Southern Arkansas University Tech logo

Fire Science Management Technical Certificate

Southern Arkansas University Tech
Camden (292.5 Miles)
Southern Arkansas University Tech logo

Fire Science Management Certificate of Proficiency

Southern Arkansas University Tech
Camden (292.5 Miles)