Firefighting Careers Overview
Firefighters are individuals trained to protect the general public from fire and other fire-related emergencies. On duty, they remain vigilant and may be called for service at a moment’s notice. Firefighting careers require irregular and often long working hours and firefighters must be ready to endure discomfort during their job. Often, firefighters may also be called upon to respond to emergencies other than fires, such as road accidents or rescuing victims of a natural catastrophe.
On the scene of a fire, firefighters may carry out various tasks such as positioning ladders to enable them to reach otherwise inaccessible places where a fire has erupted or where people or pets are trapped, positioning and operating water hoses and even providing medical attention where required. At times when they are not at a scene of fire, they undergo intensive training in emergency procedures and building physical endurance that allows them to perform well under conditions of great physical duress.
Starting Firefighting Careers
Firefighting careers require that individuals at least complete high school. However, more and more employers now prefer candidates who have at least some college education. Usually candidates interested in this profession may choose associate or bachelor level degree programs in fields like fire protection engineering or fire science. These degree programs will introduce students to different hazardous materials and firefighting strategies. Some universities also offer online programs that can help many students start firefighting careers.
All candidates for firefighting jobs have to clear physical and written exams. They also have to pass rigorous medical and drug screening tests. Drug screenings may even continue after they are employed. Firefighters then undergo exhaustive training at a fire academy before they are finally allowed to go to actual scenes of fire accidents. All states require that firemen working for the government are appropriately certified.
What are the Benefits of Firefighting Careers?
Firefighters are mostly hired by federal, state, municipal, or county authorities and there are only a few private firefighting companies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment outlook for firefighting careers is steady with an expected growth of 9%. Firefighters earned an average wage of $45,000 per year as calculated in 2010.