Fire Fighter

What Does a Fire Fighter Do?
Most residential fires begin by accident, either because of a short-circuited wire, a forgotten dinner left cooking on the stove top, or any other innocent circumstance. Fires escalate quickly, and if it grows beyond an individual’s capacity to extinguish, then fire fighters must be called in to handle the situation before more damage is done. Different fire fighters perform different tasks so that the team may operate quickly and efficiently. For example, some fire fighters are assigned to carry the hoses and connect them to a fire hydrant. Others are assigned to enter burning buildings and perform search and rescue operations. However, these duties can quickly change depending on the situation’s needs. Even after the fire has been extinguished, fire fighters must sort through the wreckage to ensure that no smoldering pieces remain because these can ignite another fire. Fire fighters also respond to other types of emergencies, such as chemical spills or vehicle accidents.

What Is the Employment and Salary Outlook for a Fire Fighter?
Fires claim many lives, as well as cost residents billions of dollars in damage every year. In 2008, 3,320 Americans died as a result of fire, and fires caused about $15.5 billion in property loss, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Fire fighters will always be needed to protect the community from fires, whether those fires take place because of nature, an accident, or criminal activity. There were an estimated 1.5 million fires in 2008 alone, the Fire Administration states, and as the population increases and cities become more densely crowded, this number will inevitably increase as well. More fire fighters will be needed to staff local fire stations in order to keep property and lives safe. Employment opportunities for fire fighters are expected to increase 19 percent through 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fire fighters make an average salary of about $44,260 annually, according to the latest information available from the Bureau.

How Can I Become a Fire Fighter?
Aspiring fire fighters must have at least a high school diploma, but more and more employers are now actively seeking fire fighters who have earned an associate degree in fire science or fire engineering. An associate degree program takes approximately two years to complete. Students take courses in fire patterns, causes of fires, and other classes that are designed to enhance their knowledge of how fires work so that the future fire fighters may best know how to combat the flames. After program completion, fire fighters undergo a rigorous training program where they learn fire fighting techniques, emergency medical procedures, and other job-specific skills that will be needed in the field. After finishing the station’s training program, prospective fire fighters are assigned to a fire company where they are placed on a period of probation to determine how well they can handle the stressors of the job. In addition to completing an associate degree and training program, most fire fighters also need to be certified as emergency medical technicians, which allow them to perform basic life-saving procedures such as treating wounds.