About Firefighters

When everyone else is running out, they are running in. Firefighters lead a dangerous yet feel good lifestyle where each day they place their lives in danger to save others. Each year, thousands of lives are taken by fire as well as billions of dollars in property damages and loss; firefighters are responsible for preventing some of these losses. While saving lives and extinguishing those red-hot flames are their primary duties, being a firefighter is more than just saving the damsel in distress while extinguishing the flames.

  1. Function

    • Extensively trained to put out hazardous fires which threaten civilian populations, firefighters save lives. While extinguishing fires is their primary responsibility, firefighters also rescue people from car accidents, collapsed and burning buildings and other similar situations. Working closely with other emergency response agencies, such as local and state police departments, also falls under a firefighters jurisdiction. The three main goals of firefighting are: saving lives, protecting the environment, and saving property. When firefighters are not out extinguishing fires, they clean and maintain equipment, study techniques, conduct practice drills and participate in physical fitness activities. Written reports and reviews of fire science literature is also completed when not responding to a call.


    • Basically, there are three categories of firefighters: career or paid, volunteer (theoretically unpaid) and retained firefighters or, part-timers. Within these categories firefighters can develop more specialized areas of expertise, such as becoming a forest fire inspector or prevention specialist.

    The Facts

    • Hazardous conditions, irregular hours and a real possibility of fatality, firefighting is a self-sacrificing career. During working hours, firefighters must always be ready to respond immediately. Not only do they extinguish fires, firefighters are responsible for atypical calls as well such as getting a boy's head out from between two bars, assisting in moving individuals who are too large to get out of their house, responding to vehicle accident scenes and other miscellaneous situations.

      Firefighting skills are generally taught by local, regional or state approved fire academy. Training typically lasts for a few weeks and consists of classroom instruction, techniques, medical procedures, building codes, first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Employment is expected to thrive more than average but keen competition between jobs is still expected. Individuals applying for a city position must also complete a written, physical and medical examination. Firefighting is traditionally more of a male profession, but females are also being seen riding on the big red fire engines.

    History of

    • Dating back to Ancient Egypt, the history of organizational combat against structural fires is long withstanding. While fires were extinguished during biblical times, it is uncertain to whether it was a paid profession or not. Today, in the United States firefighting is a mixture of paid, on call and volunteer responders whereas in the United Kingdom, firefighters are on call with pages from their home or place of work. Literature traditionally depicts fire departments with Dalmatian dogs. Back in the days of horse-drawn vehicles, Dalmatians would lead the horses through traffic to wait until the fire was extinguished. Dalmatians also served as protectors of the horses' feet from other dogs as equipment was being transported to the scene.

    Risk Factors

    • Aside from the possibility of dying when responding to a scene, the profession of firefighting has had a long relationship with cardiovascular conditions. The most common cause of non-duty fatality in the United States is sudden cardiac death. Personal factors may predispose an individual to other diseases like coronary artery disease or other cardiovascular diseases. Structural damage collapsing during a fire is another leading cause of death for firefighters.


    • Generally, firefighters receive benefits such as medical and liability insurance plus vacation, sick and some paid holidays. The median salary for firefighters is $31,170. One perk of being a firefighter is having two days off for one day of work, or in some cases, work 10 hours for three to four days then work a night a shift of 14 hours and then have three to four days off. Plus, most departments offer overtime shifts. Being a firefighter means having never-ending new experiences and learning potential. It is a career of intense excitement, adventure and rushes of adrenaline after saving a life.

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