The basic responsibility of a firefighter is to stop fires. These well-trained
people also help out in other emergencies. These include spills of chemicals
or dangerous goods, car accidents, natural disasters like floods, and medical
It's also a firefighter's job to help prevent fires in the first place.
They regularly inspect buildings for fire hazards. They teach people about
fire safety. They also plan escape routes and emergency firefighting strategies.
A firefighter does everything from dousing small backyard barbecue fires
to running into a burning skyscraper to rescue people who are trapped by smoke
Depending on the size of fire department, a firefighter may be responsible
for a single task or a combination of different duties. These tasks include
such things as raising ladders, handling fire hoses, breaking down doors,
windows or walls with axes, or driving the fire trucks.
Firefighters are shift workers. Some may work 24-hour shifts, while others
work 10- to 14-hour shifts. While on duty, firefighters eat, sleep and work
at fire stations. They're often called to several emergencies during a shift.
When not responding to an emergency, firefighters spend their time repairing
and maintaining firefighting equipment or participating in practice drills.
Keeping their skills up to date is a big responsibility for firefighters.
A vigorous fire science industry is producing more sophisticated firefighting
equipment. Firefighters must be able to use all of this new technology.
Many departments hold training sessions each week. Firefighters may also
be sent to special training academies, at which they battle fires set in abandoned
Further education is also required for firefighters who want to become
specialists in fire prevention, arson detection or other areas. Those who
want to rise in the ranks to captain, lieutenant or even fire chief must keep
studying and taking exams.
Having good people skills is essential for a firefighter. Because this
career involves working and living side by side with co-workers, firefighters
have very little privacy at work. Firefighters also have to work with panicked
or injured people at fire or accident scenes.
Good physical condition and the ability to think clearly in dangerous situations
can mean the difference between life and death for a firefighter. These people
have to be 100 percent prepared all of the time.
This is a very physical job, so those with disabilities or limitations
might have difficulty. Firefighters need to be physically strong and they
can't be allergic to smoke.
Some firefighters compete in competitions to test their strength and stamina.
There are a number of competitions, including the Firefighter Combat Challenge
and the Firefighter Games. The events bring firefighters from around the world
together in a spirit of fun and camaraderie.