Steps For Becoming A Firefighter
Firefighters play an integral role in protecting citizens and their property from dangerous fires. Becoming a firefighter can be financially and personally rewarding for the right person. Individuals who pursue a career in this profession must be physically fit and able to work effectively in high stress situations when people’s lives are at risk.
Individuals working in a local firehouse are called out to respond to a variety of emergencies, usually within the immediate area. They are often the first to arrive at serious car accidents, civil disturbances, and natural disasters to help with search and rescue efforts. Sometimes they respond to distant locations to assist other firefighters when additional help is necessary.
Individuals undergo extensive training to learn how to use firefighting equipment. This includes water pumps, hoses, ladders, ventilation fans, and vacuums. Some will be responsible for driving the safety vehicles and must learn to navigate city roads swiftly and safely when responding to a call.
Requirements for working as a firefighter vary according to state. Sometimes departments in the same state have their own unique requirements for employment. In most cases, applicants must be a minimum of 18 years old and have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. They must also have basic EMT certification.
Some schools offer associate degree programs in fire science. Individuals who undergo this additional training are often given special consideration when applying for a job. Applicants must take a written examination and those who pass the test are eligible to take another test where they demonstrate physical ability to do the job.
Physical requirements include good vision and excellent depth perception and peripheral vision. Applicants must be able to identify the colors associated with hazardous materials and established by the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Physical strength and the ability to work effectively while carrying several pounds of equipment are other important requirements for individuals in this field.
The strenuous physical agility test is designed for candidates to prove they are strong enough to handle the various types of equipment used for controlling and extinguishing structure fires. Individuals taking the test must be able to carry a charged hose over the shoulder for a certain distance. Another portion of the test involves extending a ladder to its full 24-foot length and returning it to its original position quickly and efficiently. Candidates must be able to demonstrate their ability to execute a rescue by carrying a mannequin that weighs 185 pounds a specified distance.
Even after finding employment, firefighters are required to continue their education. On the job training is important for gaining the experience needed to excel in the field. Professional firefighters will take refresher courses from time to time to demonstrate knowledge about changes in local codes and the latest rescue techniques. Maintaining top physical condition is necessary because working conditions are challenging and work hours are long and irregular. Individuals who excel have the ability to earn promotions within their department and advance to other positions, including captain and fire chief.