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Fireman: Training Required For All Firemen

Firemen, also known as firefighters, protect citizens and structures from the damage that fire can cause. Their main duty is putting out fires, but they also perform fire prevention and education services for the public. Firemen complete training so that they may perform their jobs efficiently and safely.

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Fireman Training Requirements

Because of the difficult and dangerous nature of their jobs, firemen must undergo training before they may begin working. This training is usually given after an individual is hired for an entry-level position, although in some cases, firefighters begin as apprentices. Apprenticeships can last up to four years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and include both hands-on, supervised instruction as well as classroom instruction (www.bls.gov). No matter which training route firefighters take, they learn information related to fire fighting techniques, equipment, chemical hazards, emergency medical procedures, fire prevention and more.

Some firefighters opt to complete further, more advanced training. For example, firefighters might attend the U.S. National Fire Academy, which provides training in a range of relevant topics. These can include:

  • Arson prevention
  • Disaster preparedness
  • Fire safety and education for the public
  • Control of hazardous materials

Education Options

To augment their training, some firefighters undertake formal education in the fire sciences or fire engineering fields. Whether a firefighter earns an associate degree, bachelor's degree, or simply takes a few courses, he or she will still need to attend fire fighting training. According to the BLS, job candidates who hold degrees are increasingly preferred.

Additional Requirements

Before potential firefighters may be hired and undergo training, they must meet a few requirements. These include reaching at least 18 years of age and holding a high school diploma or equivalent. Due to the rigorous nature of their work, firefighters must also be in good physical shape, be mentally alert, have good coordination and be able to operate well under pressure. They need strong self-control, the ability to refrain from drug use and the ability to interact with the public in a professional manner at all times. Additionally, most firefighters must successfully complete emergency medical training and earn an Emergency Medical Technician - Basic (EMT-Basic) certification.

Examination Information

Prior to training, most firemen must pass exams testing their physical strength, stamina and fitness. They generally also take written examinations on the medical and procedural knowledge needed to perform their job functions. How well a fireman scores on entry and subsequent examinations is factored into employment and advancement opportunities.

Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that firefighting jobs were projected to grow 9% from 2010-2020, which was slower than average. There was expected to be much competition in this field, and opportunities should be best for applicants with college experience, paramedic training and high scores on their examinations. The mean yearly salary for firefighters in May 2012 was $47,850, according to the BLS.

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