Emergency Services

Career Central- Virtual Job Shadowing

Hall County Schools Career Technical Education program features a highlighted career each month within all CTE classrooms to provide interactive resources to students via Virtual Job Shadowing and Career Cluster Exploration. VirtualJobShadow.com offers engaging career exploration resources and tools all on one user-friendly website.

Highlighted Career - Firefighter

Career Description

Firefighters control and put out fires, and respond to emergency situations where life, property, or the environment is at risk.

Duties

Firefighters typically do the following:

  • Drive fire trucks and other emergency vehicles
  • Put out fires using water hoses, fire extinguishers, and water pumps
  • Find and rescue victims in burning buildings or in other emergency situations
  • Treat sick or injured people
  • Prepare written reports on emergency incidents
  • Clean and maintain equipment
  • Conduct drills and physical fitness training
  • Provide public education on fire safety

When responding to an emergency, firefighters are responsible for connecting hoses to hydrants, operating the pumps that power the hoses, climbing ladders, and using other tools to break through debris. Firefighters also enter burning buildings to extinguish fires and rescue individuals. Many firefighters are responsible for providing medical attention. Two out of three calls to firefighters are for medical emergencies, not fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Firefighters' duties may change several times while they are at the scene of an emergency. In some cases they remain at disaster scenes for days, for example, rescuing trapped survivors and assisting with medical treatment.

When firefighters are not responding to an emergency, they are on call at a fire station. During this time, they regularly inspect equipment and perform practice drills. They also eat and sleep and remain on call, as their shifts usually last 24 hours.

Some firefighters also work in hazardous materials units and are specially trained to control and clean up hazardous materials, such as oil spills and chemical accidents. They work with hazardous materials removal workers in these cases.

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Firefighters held about 327,300 jobs in 2014. The vast majority—about 91 percent— worked for local governments. Most of the remainder worked for federal and state governments. A few worked at airports, chemical plants, and other industrial sites.

These employment numbers exclude volunteer firefighters. There are approximately twice as many volunteer firefighters as there are paid career firefighters.

Volunteer firefighters share the same duties as paid firefighters and account for the majority of firefighters in many areas. According to the National Fire Protection Association, about 69 percent of fire departments were staffed entirely by volunteer firefighters in 2013.

Required Education

Firefighters typically need a high school diploma and training in emergency medical services. Prospective firefighters must pass written and physical tests, complete a series of interviews, go through training at a fire academy, and hold an emergency medical technician (EMT) certification.

Applicants for firefighter jobs typically must be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver's license. They must also pass a medical exam and drug screening to be hired. After being hired, firefighters may be subject to random drug tests and will also need to complete routine physical fitness assessments.



Additional Training

Entry-level firefighters receive a few months of training at fire academies run by the fire department or by the state. Through classroom instruction and practical training, recruits study fire-fighting and fire-prevention techniques, local building codes, and emergency medical procedures. They also learn how to fight fires with standard equipment, including axes, chain saws, fire extinguishers, and ladders. After attending a fire academy, firefighters must usually complete a probationary period.

Some fire departments have accredited apprenticeship programs that last up to 4 years. These programs combine technical instruction with on-the-job-training under the supervision of experienced firefighters.


Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Usually, firefighters must be certified as emergency medical technicians at the EMT-Basic level. In addition, some fire departments require firefighters to be certified as an EMT-Paramedic. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) certifies EMTs and paramedics. Both levels of NREMT certification require completing a training or education program and passing the national exam. The national exam has both a written part and a practical part. EMTs and paramedics may work with firefighters at the scenes of accidents.

Some states have mandatory or voluntary firefighter training and certification programs.

The National Fire Academy also offers an Executive Fire Officer certification. To be eligible, firefighters must have a bachelor's degree.

What it takes to become a firefighter: Skills training, day 1
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The median annual wage for firefighters was $45,970 in May 2014. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,130, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $81,450.


Firefighters typically work long periods and varied hours. Most firefighters work 24-hour shifts on duty and are off the following 48 or 72 hours. Some firefighters work 10/14 shifts, which means 10 hours working and 14 hours off. When combating forest and wildland fires, firefighters may work for extended periods. For example, the 2003 California Fire Siege took weeks of constant effort by California wildland firefighters to stop.

Future Outlook

Employment of firefighters is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Improved building materials and building codes have resulted in a long-term decrease in fires and fire fatalities, but firefighters will still be needed to respond to fires. Fires can spread rapidly so controlling them quickly is very important. Wildland firefighters will still be needed to combat active fires and manage the environment to reduce the impact of fires. Firefighters will also continue to respond to medical emergencies.

Firefighter Job Requirements

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