What Does Becoming A Firefighter Entail?
It is the dream and aspiration of many youth in becoming a firefighter. This requires a lot of solid physical strength and an equally powerful mental attitude to make this dream a reality. Not all who venture into it complete the process. A good number of those who complete the process and become fire-fighters eventually quit the job. The reasons behind this have been attributed to the ominous training process which requires both brain and muscle force.
Becoming a firefighter requires that the individual is at least 18 years of age. In some countries, the candidate must be 21 years of age. The individual must have a fairly decent educational background and must be free from all criminal charges. Most importantly, the candidate must be physically fit and have perfect eyesight.
During the recruitment process, all candidates who have passed the eligibility criteria will be subjected to various tests. These tests include written, aptitude and physical ability test. The test is aimed at determining their mental abilities. Importance is placed on the candidates’ comprehension, logical and reasoning abilities. The physical training includes lifting loads and running up and down the stairs and lifting heavy sacks using rope and many other activities which check the candidate’s stamina.
At a later stage in the training, the trainees are exposed to live fire. Buildings are set on fire to give them the actual feel of what will be expected. The trainees are expected to ‘think on their feet’ and take immediate steps in carrying out a rescue mission.
During these live fire training sessions, the trainer gives instructions to the trainees. They line themselves, with the first person operating the nozzle of the hose while others holding them. They take turns at operating the nozzle. The process continues until every trainee gets to operate the nozzle. This process is capable of causing burns in skin if not handled carefully. The trainer will then inspect for injuries and proceed with the next process.
It is undoubtedly true that this job is hazardous. Hence, there is no room for mistakes. When buildings are stimulated with fire, the fire is controlled by computer with a mixture of gases producing a wave of heat. The conditions are made difficult for the training firefighters so as to make them prepared for the worst case scenario.
There is a provision to extinguish the entire fire and smoke in case of any emergency. Medical personnel are also made available in the premises to take care of the injured trainees. However, despite all these safety measures, in a span of ten years between 1994 and 2004, ten firefighters lost their lives during training.
Upon a successful completion of the training, the candidate becomes an engineer. The engineer is an experienced firefighter, whose primary duties are to drive the fire trucks and maintain the equipment. The engineer ensures that constant supply of water is provided to the firefighters. Based on experience and performance, the Engineer gets promoted to Lieutenant later on to Captain, Battalion Chief, Deputy Chief, Assistant Chief and finally, to Chief Firefighter. Although the process of becoming a firefighter is stressful, the joy and pride of actualizing this dream makes it worthwhile.