What Do Firefighters Do?
Every year, firefighters save numerous lives and buildings that are caught in the grasp of destructive flames. Firefighters work hard to ensure that all fires are controlled and extinguished in emergency scenarios. In addition to physically putting out the fires, they also work to prevent fires from occurring in the first place, provide medical services and perform search and rescues. Firefighters are needed all over the country, and more are needed to provide an adequate amount of protection for civilians. Over the course of the next decade, there is projected to be a 7% increase in the need for firefighters every year. That amounts to around 10,400 job openings every year, so there is plenty of room for growth.
Firefighters Skills and Abilities
People in this profession need to be acquainted with public safety and security ordinances and remain up-to-date on any changes within state or local codes. Knowledge of geography is essential if there is the possibility you will be fighting forest fighters, but if you think you will be sticking to municipal buildings, then you should be familiar with building materials and the methods of which houses are constructed. Rapid assessment skills will prove to be useful because when you are directly facing a fire, you will need to quickly determine the severity of the situation and come up with the best solution. It can get physically demanding out in the field, so solid reaction time combined with manual dexterity can be one of your greatest assets.
In addition to extinguishing flames when they get out of control, you will also be expected to regularly inspect and maintain all of your equipment and tools, so you know they will work when they are needed. You will need to rescue victims who are trapped in buildings. If someone has been hurt, it may fall on you to administer proper first aid techniques. Outside of fighting fires, you may be asked to perform seminars and educate the public about proper fire safety. Other responsibilities may be asked of you, and some of the more basic tasks include:
- Patrolling areas to ensure fires will not restart.
- Relaying information to personnel.
- Preparing investigation reports.
- Examining debris to figure out the cause of the fire.
- Inspecting buildings to ensure compliance with codes.
Firefighters Tools and Technology
Various tools are utilized by firefighters, including all-terrain vehicles you will need to learn how to drive. Fire hoses, axes and fire pump sets will also need to be used regularly. You should also be familiar with pulleys and rigging systems. Outside of the tools needed for field work, you should also know how to use scientific and analytical computer software.
Education and Training for Firefighters
Firefighters have all different kinds of educational backgrounds, but something you will absolutely need to attain is a postsecondary non-degree award, making you certified to be a firefighter. You will always be required to expand your training, and even if you are already a firefighter, you will need to take various instructional courses in fire prevention, forest firefighting and other similar classes to stay current.
The salary range for firefighters varies greatly between $22,000 and $82,000 annually. Numerous factors go into determining a fair wage, and the median annual salary across the country is around $46,000. You could make more or less depending on what state you are working in.
Firefighters Jobs by Geography
Firefighters tend to be primarily employed by local governments, but they can also be hired by the state government or other support services. Some of the states with the greatest need for firefighters include California, Texas and Florida. Fighting fires is a noble career path, so learn more about how to become a firefighter in your own specific state.