Courage, strength, and a cool head under pressure are some of the most important qualities needed by firefighters. Firefighters control and put out fires, and respond to crisis situations where life and the environment are at risk. Firefighters enter burning buildings to extinguish fires and rescue people, sometimes carrying them. They connect hoses to hydrants, operate pumps, climb ladders, and use other tools to break through debris. The majority of calls they receive are for medical emergencies, so many firefighters also provide medical attention. Some firefighters clean up hazardous materials, such as oil spills and chemical accidents, while others are specially trained to control forest fires. Most firefighters work for local governments. Some work for federal and state governments, or at airports, chemical plants, and other industrial sites. Volunteer firefighters serve the same roles as paid firefighters and account for a large portion of the workforce in this field. Firefighters’ schedules are typically on duty at the fire station for 24 hours at a time, then off for 48 to 72 hours. Wildland firefighters may work for extended periods to get a forest fire under control. Firefighters have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. They must wear heavy, hot protective gear. Firefighters typically need a high school diploma, valid driver’s license, and an emergency medical technician certification. Candidates must successfully complete interviews, written and physical fitness tests, fire academy training, and, once hired, they must pass random drug tests.
What they do:
Control and suppress fires in forests or vacant public land.
On the job, you would:
Rescue fire victims, and administer emergency medical aid.
Maintain contact with fire dispatchers at all times to notify them of the need for additional firefighters and supplies, or to detail any difficulties encountered.
Collaborate with other firefighters as a member of a firefighting crew.
Engineering and Technology
building and construction
Safety and Government
public safety and security
movement of people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road
keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements
listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
changing what is done based on other people's actions
looking for ways to help people
People and Technology Systems
thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one
figuring out how a system should work and how changes in the future will affect it
exercise for a long time without getting out of breath
quickly change the controls of a machine, car, truck or boat
use your arms and/or legs together while sitting, standing, or lying down
Hand and Finger Use
hold or move items with your hands
keep your arm or hand steady
communicate by speaking
People interested in this work like activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions.
They do well at jobs that need:
You might use software like this on the job:
Word processing software
Data base user interface and query software
Fire incident reporting systems
high school diploma/GED or no high school diploma/GED usually needed