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.
- 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
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.
- Are physically fit
- Have compassion and empathy
- Have courage
- Are calm under pressure
- Are able to make quick, sometimes difficult decisions
- Communicate well