Category Archives: From a firefighter’s perspective

What Do Firefighters Do?

No doubt you would want to know what it is exactly that firefighters do before you invest your money, time, and energy preparing to become one.  You definitely need to have an idea of what you’re getting into. Regardless of what your level is, there is always something new to learn about the career you’re pursuing.

Fire departments if different places have minor differences in the way they operate, and so, the duties of a firefighter in one department may differ (slightly or drastically) from those of a firefighter in another department. The work of firefighters is commonly depicted in television dramas and Hollywood, and it’s not rare to see those gallant individuals seated around a table, eating and laughing at jokes, or even resting during day time. On television, firefighters are rarely portrayed as ‘busy’ people. However, this portrayal is very unrealistic at best. That is not the usual routine in many fire departments. Admittedly, the aforesaid television portrayal may be routine for a couple of days in some fire departments – respond to a call or wait for the next one. But many times, firefighters may be occupied with other duties when they’re not responding to a call. Whether it’s some housework to be done or doing some routine training to be the best they can, firefighters are always occupied.

If you’re an aspiring firefighter, it would do you a lot of good to realize that there’s more to a firefighter’s work than merely responding to calls and lounging around the kitchen area waiting for the next emergency. It’s really surprising to find some newly recruited firefighters in a department who suddenly shun responding to Band-Aid calls, or dislike responding to medical calls, or dislike public education events, or hate any other duty that may arise. It’s not uncommon to hear of complaints where some firefighters don’t like performing certain duties or even plead ignorance of how to go about certain tasks.

So before any prospective firefighter decides to pursue firefighting as their career, they must realize that the job entails doing things that seem out of the typical job description of a firefighter. You need the necessary skills to accomplish a range of tasks and at short notice most of the time. Fortunately, the department that takes you up will show you how to accomplish the majority of those tasks, but you’ll also be expected to have a few basic skills with you acquired through experience or training.

Some experienced firefighters claim that a firefighter ought to have knowledge of about 26 trades, including plumbing, electrical engineering, and carpentry, automotive, among others. Of course, this seems unrealistic and even impossible, but firefighters are routinely called on short notice to do tasks related to other trades.

Most people tend to forget that it is firefighters that you call in the middle of the night when you’re stuck and can’t figure out how to accomplish something and the repair shop is closed. And in most cases, firefighters will stop the problem at the very least and then direct you to the relevant contact that will solve the problem completely.

So by now, you should have figured out that a firefighter’s job is not just about putting out fires and rescuing people from danger, but it entails helping out with almost any difficulties that people face in their everyday lives. Firefighters serve the community and country at large by making a difference in people’s lives, besides the mandatory rescue missions that are the core of their work. If you want to make it a worthwhile career, be ready to embrace the challenges that the firefighting job presents, otherwise you’ll end up unhappy and frustrated.

Learn more about firefighters by reading our block, but also firefighter news here.

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What It’s Like To Be A Firefighter

Firefighting has remained one of the most noble and heroic professions today, even when the times couldn’t get more cynical. Obviously, anyone aspiring to become a firefighter would love to know what it’s like to be a firefighter. Normally, the portrayals we see in movies about the day-to-day lives of firefighters are simply romanticized versions of the real-life activities.

So in this article, we’ll get an idea of what it’s really like to be a firefighter.

Job Overview

Generally, firefighters put out fires and rescue people and property from burning structures. However, putting out fires is not as easy as it sounds. It takes a great deal of heroic courage and determination to go into a burning building as others are rushing out.

Besides putting out fires, firefighters attend to people who are hurt in accidents or those that become suddenly ill at home; they rescue people trapped in buildings; and they may also do ambulance services where necessary to rush people in critical condition to the emergency room. Depending on the region and the particular fire department, some firefighting personnel work to prevent future fires (fire marshals and inspectors). In short, firefighters work where there’s danger and that is why their work is called dangerous work.

Firefighters earn between $29,000 and $46,000 per year and receive a host of benefits including disability, health, and retirement. Their work typically rotates in 24-hour shifts and no two days can be the same in this profession. Work is very unpredictable and varied.

Responding to Calls

One of the hallmarks of a firefighting profession is responding to emergency calls, and it’s almost always at short notice. For their own safety, firefighters have special gear that they must wear when responding to an emergency, especially a fire. Other emergencies that firefighters usually respond to include auto accidents and medical emergencies, among others.

Increasingly, many fire departments are putting emphasis on medical emergencies given the fact that the majority of emergency calls are medical cases, at least for most fire departments.

However, a firefighter’s day is not entirely spent answering emergency calls. Moreover, not all calls require a lot of activity. Some emergencies may be solved on phone and in other cases, calls may involve non-emergency situations and false alarms. In fact, a big proportion of a firefighter’s workday is spent responding to non-emergency calls.

The Gear

In a typical fire emergency, a firefighter will wear a face mask and an air tank for breathing. However, the tanks are usually heavy and the breathing is problematic, not to mention the difficulty of navigating a location that is unfamiliar. But the gear, when worn properly, will protect the firefighter from extreme conditions such as heat and smoke. The material used for the fire-resistant outer gear is called Nomex.

Below the bunker gear, a firefighter wears lightweight cotton clothing and this is usually what you’ll see them wearing at the station when not responding to an emergency. Synthetics are not good for wearing as underneath because they can’t stand extreme heat and can easily melt. On the other hand, cotton allows the wearer’s body to ‘breathe’, preventing steam from building up in conditions of high heat.

For the shoes, leather boots are used and are made of either leather or rubber. They are lined with a fire resistant layer as well as an insulation layer to warm the feet in cold conditions or provide cooling in hot environments.

Overall, you can only get a rough idea of what a typical day is like for a firefighter. Unless you’re one, you can’t really know what it’s like.


Are you perhaps interested in becoming a firefighter? You should take a look at some of these articles;

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