Firefighters

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Also known as:
Fire Engine Pump Operator, Fire Equipment Operator, Fire Fighter, Forest Firefighter, Marine Firefighter, Municipal Firefighter, Smoke Jumper, Wildland Firefighter

ABOUT FIREFIGHTER CAREERS
Video transcript

Firefighters have one of the most hazardous of all occupations. It is also one of the most essential, for nothing is more damaging - or more deadly - than fire. Swinging a fire axe or aiming a fire hose that shoots water at 300 pounds per square inch requires strength and stamina. But firefighting isn't only about being physically fit. Most calls to fire departments involve medical emergencies. And many fire departments require firefighters to be certified as emergency medical technicians, in order to provide on-site care to victims of accidents, natural disasters, or crimes.

More than 90 percent of all career firefighters work in city or county fire departments. But firefighters are also employed by airports, chemical and manufacturing plants, and by agencies responsible for fighting forest fires. Opportunities may also be available in volunteer fire departments, though these may be limited because the increased level of specialized training needed makes it more difficult for volunteers to remain qualified.

Firefighters also aid victims of earthquakes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters. They may help clean up oil spills and hazardous materials. And many firefighters are involved in public education and fire prevention activities, since the best fire is the one that never gets started in the first place.

SNAPSHOT

Control and extinguish fires or respond to emergency situations where life, property, or the environment is at risk. Duties may include fire prevention, emergency medical service, hazardous material response, search and rescue, and disaster assistance.

Daily tasks

Patrol burned areas after fires to locate and eliminate hot spots that may restart fires.

Orient self in relation to fire, using compass and map, and collect supplies and equipment dropped by parachute.

Rescue victims from burning buildings, accident sites, and water hazards.

Prepare written reports that detail specifics of fire incidents.

Take action to contain any hazardous chemicals that could catch fire, leak, or spill.

Inspect buildings for fire hazards and compliance with fire prevention ordinances, testing and checking smoke alarms and fire suppression equipment as necessary.

Inform and educate the public on fire prevention.

Create openings in buildings for ventilation or entrance, using axes, chisels, crowbars, electric saws, or core cutters.

Position and climb ladders to gain access to upper levels of buildings, or to rescue individuals from burning structures.

Protect property from water and smoke, using waterproof salvage covers, smoke ejectors, and deodorants.

Extinguish flames and embers to suppress fires, using shovels or engine- or hand-driven water or chemical pumps.

MAIN ACTIVITIES
Assisting and Caring for Others Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.
Performing General Physical Activities Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Handling and Moving Objects Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE
Public Safety and Security Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Building and Construction Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Mechanical Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Transportation Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Telecommunications Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
TOP SKILLS
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Coordination Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
Operation Monitoring Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Operation and Control Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Service Orientation Actively looking for ways to help people.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.