Professional Firefighter: Job Description, Duties and Requirements
Firefighters perform many job duties, including fighting building and forest fires, providing emergency medical assistance and aiding victims. The job is quite dangerous and requires a spirit of public service and sacrifice. Aspiring firefighters must usually pass written and physical exams as well as hold an emergency medical technician certification.
Professional firefighting is a physically demanding and very dangerous career. A high risk of death is common due to incidents such as walls falling or floors collapsing after being damaged by fire. Firefighters wear heavy protective gear in order to shield themselves from heat and flames. They commonly work 50+ hours per week in varied schedules far from the norm of 9-5 workers. Professional firefighters may also find themselves coming into contact with dangerous materials such as poisons and chemicals, potential explosive gases and radioactive substances.
Firefighters provide a wide range of emergency services. In addition to putting out fires in buildings and forests, they are also often the quickest responders to such emergencies as sudden serious illnesses, accidents or car crashes. There they act as emergency medical personnel to help stabilize situations.
The act of fighting fires takes much complex strategy and physical endurance. Fire often traps victims inside burning buildings and necessitates that firefighters assist with their removal. Firefighters must consider how much of a building can be saved or salvaged in the event of a fire. They must obtain a building layout to determine where structural damage will compromise the integrity of the building and endanger entering personnel. Firefighters must be familiar with tools including hoses, hydrants, axes, chainsaws and other instruments to clear forest areas or bust into buildings.
Firefighters must pass both written and physical examinations in order to be considered for employment. Written exams test individuals on their knowledge of basic building codes and layouts, medical procedures and strategies for fighting forest fires. Physical exams test the strength and agility of potential firefighters. Alertness, coordination and self-discipline are all highly necessary for safe and effective firefighting. A continuing commitment to physical fitness is also necessary.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 91% of firefighters (excluding volunteer firefighters) were employed by local governments in 2010 (www.bls.gov). Employers usually require their firefighters to be certified as emergency medical technicians (EMTs). Most only require the basic level of certification but some larger departments which serve highly crowded metropolitan areas require advanced paramedic training. While high school diplomas were previously the norm for firefighters, some college education and even full college degrees in fire science are increasingly common.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Paid firefighters earned an average of $47,850 per year in 2012, according to BLS figures. Employment of firefighters was predicted to grow 9% from 2010-2020, a bit slower than the average for all jobs (www.bls.gov).
Related to Professional Firefighter: Job Description, Duties and Requirements
- Recently Updated
Fire science administration degrees are most commonly available through 2-year Associate of Science (A.S.) programs at...
Most people have a perception of med school that includes countless hours of lectures, lab work and studying without much sleep...
Medical records and health information technicians organize patient health files and information, including medical histories,...
Dental assistant, physical therapy assistant and medical assistant are three high-demand careers in the medical field. Read on...
- Medical Careers with a Bachelor's Degree: Employment Options
- List of Medical Master's Programs: Overviews by Specialization
- Medical Schools Growing to Meet Demand
- Construction Subcontractor: Job Description & Career Info
- Executive Administrative Assistant: Employment Info & Career Requirements
- Video Production Assistant: Employment & Career Info
- Intensive Care Unit Administrator: Job Duties & Career Requirements