What is a firefighter?
A firefighter is a highly qualified man or woman who works to fight and extinguish fires. They also take action to prevent fires, act as emergency medical technicians, and investigate the causes of fires. A firefighter is almost always the first officer “on the scene” of fires, car accidents, or other emergencies, which is why they are also sometimes called “first aid.” Some firefighters are career professionals, while others volunteer in their communities.
What does a firefighter do?
There are four main responsibilities and duties: putting out fires, rescuing and caring for the sick and injured, working to prevent future fires, and investigating sources of fires, especially in the event of a potential fire.
Fighting fires is the primary duty of a firefighter. After receiving notification of an ongoing fire, a firefighter will don the appropriate safety gear before boarding or driving one of several types of fire trucks. Some of the trucks carry or pump water, some are “aerial ladder” trucks that climb stairs to the upper floors of buildings, and some are rescue trucks that transport fire victims to emergency medical centers.
After arriving at the site, each firefighter works under a commanding officer and has a specific task to perform. Hose operators, for example, connect hoses to fire hydrants and then direct the flow of water onto the fire while a pump operator controls the flow of water. Others are responsible for entering burning buildings to rescue potential victims.
In the event of a non-fire car accident, a firefighter will use his training to care for the injured and secure the scene before ambulances and police arrive. They also act as rescuers in the event of natural disasters such as tornadoes, tsunamis, and earthquakes. Firefighters treat the victims of these disasters or search for the missing.
A firefighter also educates the public and works as an inspector to prevent fires. Inspectors ensure that local businesses comply with fire codes and ensure that fire escapes, alarms, and sprinkler systems are in place and in good working order. Some firefighters are trained as investigators to locate the source of fires and find evidence if a fire is suspected.
In addition to firefighting responsibilities, the firefighter must maintain a fire apparatus and participate in regular drilling or training. They must also remain in excellent physical shape to support the physical demands of their work.
What is the workplace of a firefighter like?
With the exception of part-time volunteer firefighters, most firefighters live and work in fire stations for long periods of time. Changes usually last 24 hours, so a complete team is always present in case of fire. Monthly, a firefighter works between 9 and 11 total shifts. Additionally, they work on vacations and weekends to ensure their community is safe from fire.
In the event of a natural disaster, a firefighter can work even longer hours in order to keep the public and rescue victims safe. Many of the situations they encounter are life threatening; Numerous firefighters have lost their lives while on the job. A volunteer firefighter will suffer the same risks, but typically will not live at the fire station and will only be called when an emergency situation arises.