What do Firefighters Do – Day in the life of a Firefighter

A Day in the Life of a Firefighter

Table of Contents

What firefighters do all day may have piqued your curiosity, especially if you are aspiring to do the job of a professional firefighter in Australia.

It’s not like every hour or every day there’s a fire incident or emergency within your area that needs to be attended to, so what does a day in the life of a firefighter look like.

If you dream of becoming a firefighter, this will answer most of your questions. If you are considering joining the fire service in Australia as a professional you may also be wondering what do firefighters get paid.

What Do Firefighters Do?

Role of a Firefighter

Firefighters have many different jobs with chances to specialise and grow in their careers, I have included a summary of what firefighters do all day below. This should give you a really good understanding if you read this in conjunction with watching the video above.

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What do firefighters respond to

Emergency Response Activities

  • Putting Out Fires: Fighting all kinds of fires, professional firefighters are mostly consumed by structure fire and less so bushfire / wildfire.
  • Medical Calls: Providing first aid during emergency calls. Providing general and advanced medical care for people in all sorts of situations. This is becoming more demanding as the ambulance and medical service organisations come under more demand.
  • Search and Rescue: Finding and saving people.
  • High Angle & Rope Rescue: Rescue operations including rescuing people from high places, mineshafts and all sorts of hard to imagine situations.
  • Car Accidents: Helping in vehicle accidents, road accidents and other road related emergency situations.
  • Water Rescues: Responding to emergencies on water. This is not the case in ever fire service in Australia
  • Handling Dangerous Materials – HAZMAT: Managing industrial accidents, dealing with hazardous materials and toxic substances.
  • Helping Other Agencies: Assisting other emergency teams and acting as a community service. Firefighters are usually very well trained in emergency management so are always called on for these expertise during large incidents.
  • Fire Investigations: Looking into the causes of fires.

Community Activities

  • Fire Safety Education: Teaching the local community about fire safety, natural disasters and what to do in emergency situations including fire prevention down to things as simple as how to keep fire extinguishers in good working order
  • Emergency Prep Programs: Helping community groups prepare for emergencies via public education. holding community events for an all round positive impact

Other Tasks

  • Training: modern firefighters do a lot of training these days. Basic training, practical training & physical training is a big part of keeping skills sharp and learning new ones so that each fire fighter can operate efficiently in extreme heat and under stressful situations. Physical fitness training has become a big deal amongst fellow firefighters,  encouraging each other to become better and making a fire departments a great place to work.
  • Equipment Maintenance: Heavy equipment, fire truck, fire hoses Keeping equipment in good shape.
  • Evacuation Drills: Practicing emergency evacuations with the public.
  • Joint Training:Training with other emergency teams like police and ambulance services.

    Full-time firefighters / professional firefighters will often carry out training for volunteer firefighters depending where they work

  • Building Checks: Inspecting buildings for fire safety.
  • Water Checks: Making sure there is enough water for firefighting.
  • Station and Vehicle Maintenance: Cleaning and maintaining the fire station and vehicles.

What Do Firefighters Do Daily

Below I run through the outline of what professional firefighters do on a daily basis.

How Firefighters Start Their Day

How firefighters begin their day varies from each fire station and each individuals firefighter rank. I have put together a guide If you are interested in learning about firefighter ranks. Obviously the fire chief usually known as a Station Officer will have a different role to the probationary guy that’s just graduated the fire academy.

Generally, firefighters start the day with a group meeting, where they discuss and agree on the objectives for the day, and everyone gets assigned to their tasks.

The first priority of firefighters is to check their trucks. When assigned to a specific truck, a firefighter should do an inventory of all the gear, making sure that everything that’s meant to be on the truck is ticked off and is ready-to-go.

Other firefighters attend professional training and development classes. Experienced firefighters are usually the ones who train the newer guys.


The Mundane Tasks of Firefighters

When there are no reports of incidents yet, firefighters usually spend a lot of the day doing administrative tasks. It’s a common practise that firefighters are the ones who also clean their offices and station amenities. Some firefighters consider these the less glamorous parts of the job, but this makes them well-rounded.

What do Firefighters Do When There Are No Emergencies?

Put simply when there are no emergency calls firefighters will be doing “Preparation & Maintenance”. This can be anything from physical fitness training, fire truck minor maintenance, heavy equipment maintenance, pre-planning for large risks in the public places. The fact is firefighters work long hours and attending emergencies it a small percentage of this time. Firefighters do regular drills on a daily basis to ensure they are keeping up to date on a large range of equipment that they could be called on at a moments notice to use under extreme stress.

  • Vehicle maintenance
  • SCBA maintenance
  • Equipment repairs and general maintenance
  • Station maintenance and cleaning
  • Emergency medical training
  • Fire training
  • Rescue training
  • Hazmat training
  • Business inspections
  • Business compliance
  • Public Information and Public Safety
  • Promotional studying
  • Fire safety lessons at primary and pre-schools
  • Career days at high schools
  • Tours for various groups (schools, Cubs, Scouts, special interest groups)
  • Civilian fire operations training

Responding to Fire and Emergencies

The job of a firefighter is a bit dynamic, it goes beyond just responding to fire incidents. When you’re a firefighter, you also address other types of emergencies such as flooding and water rescue, car crashes, chemical spills, and other medical emergencies listed above.

Emergencies also come in small and big sizes. In some car accidents, firefighters just wash away the mess on the ground. On occasions, firefighters also help people who are trapped or people who need medical help, there are usually dedicated road rescue brigades and advanced medical technicians amongst the firefighter ranks.

Firefighter’s Working Hours – Firefighter Hours

If you’re planning to become a full-time firefighter, you will be working an average of 40 hours a week. This will vary depending on the state, fire station, and your role.

Most fire services follow a shift duty system:

  • Two days (9am–6pm), two nights (6pm–9am), followed by four periods of 24 hours off.
  • The 10/14 roster being 2 x 10 hour day shifts followed by 2 x 14 hour night shifts.
  • Another shift system is where firefighters work four-day shifts (6am–6pm) and then have four days off.
  • There is also a 24 hour shift system.

Firefighter Shifts Calendars

Here is an example 10-14 firefighter shift calendar example from Victoria




Here is an example 24 Hour shift calendar example from firefighters mutual bank for NSW



Firefighters’ Sleeping Patterns – do firefighters sleep at the station

Another frequently asked question for firefighters is do firefighters sleep at the station? the answer is YES but this is only if it’s in the workplace agreement and all duties have been completed and there are no calls.

do firefighters hours allow for enough sleep? If the answer is based on the duty shift stated above, then firefighters will get enough sleep.

However, it has to be taken into consideration that some firefighters report to work 24 hours. When this happens, they usually take naps during their down time, which is usually in the afternoon.

Is Firefighting a Stressful Job?

The answer is yes. Like any other profession in Australia, there will always be stress that comes with it. Especially as a firefighter, it’s a dangerous career that can cost you and the ones you’re saving.

But if it’s your dream job to become a firefighter and after reading all the information above makes you still want to pursue the career, then it should be worth it.

Take this survey to see if becoming a professional firefighter is suitable for you.

Life as a firefighter, the positives

There are some extremely good parts to living the life of a firefighter that you may not have thought about yet, I will list of few things about what firefighters do get to do that other professions may not.

  • Holidays, firefighters get extremely generous holidays in most cases around 10 weeks per year
  • Days off, firefighters have a lot more time away from work than your average job particularly if they work at a fire station where nightshifts are quiet. For example if you are working a 10-14 roster and have quiet nights this gives you 6 out of 8 days to do with what you choose.
  • People like firefighters. In general most people appreciate the fire department and firefighters in general, there are not many times when a firefighter arrives at an incident and aren’t welcome, compare this with police for example.
  • Camaraderie,  you work as part of a team and spend a lot of time with your team. This usually ends up creating a reliable network of lifelong friends, some say like a second family.
  • Career progression options. You could continually grow your skills and experiences within the fire service, not many jobs can offer such a wide variety of opportunities.

Hope this has given you a good insight into what firefighters do and what a day in the life of a firefighter is like.


Brent C

After becoming a Firefighter, I developed a massive interest in the Fire Services Recruitment and Selection Processes. I've been in the fire service working since 2007 to learn everything about how Fire Services Recruitment works. I've tested and refined proven methods to help people get the edge over the competition. Today, over 300 of my former students are living their Firefighter dream.

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