Learn More About Fire Fighter Jobs
Fire fighters are responsible for responding to structure fires, serious roadway accidents, forest fires, and natural disasters. They have extensive training in suppressing blazes and rescuing individuals from dangerous situations. Fire fighter jobs are rewarding on a personal level and provide many qualified individuals with a lucrative income.
Many people in this profession work in a local firehouse and respond to emergencies near that location. The hours are long and schedules may be irregular making it necessary to be flexible and ready to adapt to new situations. Much of the work occurs in a high stress environment where the ability to make quick decisions is crucial and can mean the difference between life and death.
People in this line of work must be physically fit and emotionally stable to handle the stressful situations they deal with on the job. Because most of the training takes place on the job, entry-level job applicants do not typically need prior experience in emergency services. Those who earn an associate’s degree in fire science from an accredited institution of higher learning often receive preference in the job application process.
All job applicants must take and pass written and physical agility tests. The physical fitness test is designed to show the individual has the strength and stamina necessary to carry and set up equipment. Other portions of the test involve carrying a 185-pound mannequin over a required distance to simulate a rescue.
The engineer is the member of the team responsible for driving the trucks to fires and accident scenes. This individual must have the ability to maneuver a large vehicle quickly and safely to its destination. Engineers usually have strong backgrounds in vehicle mechanics because they are also responsible for maintaining the trucks and other firefighting equipment used to suppress blazes.
Promotions through the ranks typically occur within the department. After acquiring the necessary skills and experience, some individuals may become captains or lieutenants. These are the members of the team responsible for organizing the response and directing the efforts at the scene. Some departments require officers to earn a management or fire science degree.
The chief is the highest ranked position in the firehouse. This person will usually have several years of experience fighting fires but no longer plays an active role in emergency response. The chief will spend the majority of time managing the budget for the firehouse, hiring new recruits, and coordinating training for new hires.
Wildland firefighters find employment with the federal government protecting national parks and other outdoor areas. Candidates for these positions must take and pass the work capacity test, or WCT. The test requires the applicant to walk three miles while carrying a pack weighing 45 pounds and completing the distance in a maximum of 45 minutes without running or jogging. The test is given after the individual is hired and immediately upon reporting for duty. Anyone who fails the test has two weeks to retake it. Individuals who fail a second time are at risk of losing their job.