Why Firefighting Is a Good Career Choice For Retiring Athletes

Career choice for retiring athletes

Firefighting – A Good Career Choice For Retiring Athletes

Are you a professional athlete about to retire and considering your next career move? If the answer is yes, then you should know that firefighting is a good career choice for retiring athletes. 

Most athletes reach their peak in their late 20’s or early 30’s, so they still have many working years ahead. Retirement for athletes could be involuntary because of injury or age or it could be voluntary because the athlete feels like the time is right to begin the next chapter of their life.

Skills Most Retiring Athletes Have And How They Can Be Utilised In The Fire Services

There are certain skills and attributes that most professional athletes have that can translate well into a career in firefighting. Let’s take a look at these.


Athletes need to put in the hard training hours, whether they feel like it or not. The same goes for firefighters. The resilience to keep moving forward when faced with resistance is a highly valued skill in both athletes and firefighters.

Being able to work through adversities with a strong mindset and determination will see you through the challenging day to day activities of a firefighter.


To succeed in any sport, you have to be optimistic about your ability to turn out a winning performance. Your goal is to remain in a frame of mind that can put you in a position to get the job done. As a firefighter, you have to believe in your ability to do the tasks assigned to you. 

Having a positive mindset will also make it easier to handle the sometimes arduous tasks that firefighters have to perform on a daily basis.


As an athlete, you need good discipline to be able to train and perform at your peak. If that means getting up at 4 am in the morning to train, you need the discipline to ensure that you can.

Firefighters also need a tremendous amount of discipline to perform well in their job. They need the discipline to follow through until the task is complete, no matter how hard it may seem.


Both athletes and firefighters need to be adaptable to the conditions in their working environment. As a firefighter, you could be running into a burning building to save someone one day and abseiling down a cliff to rescue a stranded bushwalker the next.

Good Communication

Good communication is vital in professions such as sport and emergency services. You need to be able to communicate well with your coach, your fire chief, your team members and often, the general public.

Leadership Ability

As a professional athlete, you’re a leader in your field. Younger players and team members look to you for advice and a strong commitment aptitude.

In the fire services, there are certain ranks that you can move through to further your career. A lot of these ranks require good leadership skills. You’ll need to be a quick thinker to be able to make decisions for other team members.

Additionally, like athletes, firefighters are seen as role models in the community and need to convey themselves as such in their communication with others.

Ability To Work Under Pressure

When you’re top in your field of sport, you’ll constantly be under pressure to perform better than your peers and to stay ahead of the competition.

As a firefighter, the pressure comes from having to perform in sometimes very adverse conditions. You’ll be under pressure to extinguish fires, save properties and lives, perform daring rescues, and other strenuous tasks. You’ll also be under pressure to make quick decisions under life-threatening conditions.

Physical Agility

It goes without saying, that both as an athlete and a firefighter, you have to be in top physical condition. In fact, firefighters are often considered professional athletes.

As part of their training, firefighters are required to work on their cardiovascular strength to strengthen all areas of their body. They also have to work on their flexibility and endurance.

As a result, firefighter training is rigorous but would be less of a challenge to a retiring athlete who already has these skills.

Team Player

Most athletes are part of a team that trains, prepares, and plays together. This offers both camaraderie and a sense of belonging. The same can be achieved in the fire services where teamwork is vital.

You’ll be spending a lot of time with your fire team, so if you enjoy being part of a team, then this is a natural career progression for you.

Real-Life Example – Glen Saville

Glen Saville was a champion basketball player, dual Olympian and Australian Basketball Hall of Famer. He played with the Illawarra Hawks based in Wollongong.

Glen always dreamed of becoming a firefighter before pursuing a basketball career. In late 2018, he began his career as a recruit with Fire and Rescue NSW.

One of the things he enjoys the most about being a firefighter is helping the communities affected by fire and supporting the families in need.

He agreed that fire training drills can be as tough a physical challenge as training as an athlete. However, his background in sports training has helped him to cope well with the physical challenges of being a firefighter.

Conclusion On Why Firefighting Is A Good Career Choice For Retiring Athletes

Many of the skills a good athlete needs to succeed can easily be transferred over into a firefighting career.

So, if you’re an athlete who is now at the stage of making a career change and need some help with your transition, contact us at Fire Recruitment Australia to see how you could begin a new career as a firefighter. We’re always here to answer your questions and guide you in the right direction.

Sources: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-21/glen-saville-goes-from-pro-basketballer-to-firefighter/12070136



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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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