Firefighters are America’s heroes for many reasons. Responding to medical emergencies as well as fires is just another day in the lives of firefighters. Protecting the public, they are often the first emergency personnel on scene and are considered to be first responders. Firefighters across the nation perform similar duties that include driving fire engines, ambulances and other apparatus to the emergency scene. Firefighters use fire hoses to extinguish a fire that may injure people or damage property. Most modern fire hoses are made from a woven synthetic fiber that allows for better resistance to abrasion as well as added strength and durability. Before the modern era, firefighters used cotton hoses and other natural fibers. Firefighters have the important task of locating and rescuing victims that are trapped in burning buildings or in any other emergency scene. Firefighters attend to patients with injuries or any other medical problem they are experiencing such as shortness of breath or any other type of medical problem including grand mal seizures.
Firefighters are required to be versed in basic life saving techniques including cardiopulmonary resuscitation, also known as CPR, as well as taking vital signs to ensure the patients body is functioning properly. Firefighters prepare and maintain the accuracy of written reports on medical and fire calls to document for insurance purposes. Firefighters routinely exercise and train in techniques learned and used out in the field. Firefighters are expected to complete specific tasks assigned to them by their supervisor when the squad responds to an emergency call. This may make the firefighters responsible for climbing ladders, providing medical attention or connecting the fire engine hoses up to a hydrant to supply water. The modern fire fighter station responds to approximately 80 percent medical calls, depending on their geographical location in the nation. Large disasters require firefighters to remain at the emergency scene for an extended amount of time in which they will periodically change their duties from attending to patients that require medical attention to extricating trapped victims. Firefighters may also be extensively trained in responding to a hazmat (hazardous materials) crisis or wild land fire.
Firefighters training for wild land fires is notably different from fighting a structure fire and there are many differences in techniques between the two types. Firefighters fighting wild land fires use heavy-duty equipment including bulldozers and other construction type vehicles. Firefighters use these heavy-duty vehicles for cutting down trees and creating a path to deprive the wild land fire of material which is used as fuel for the fire. Firefighters work all over the nation including airports, industrial areas, chemical plants and many other commercial locations. Firefighters that volunteer for their community make up the majority of the fire service. The National Fire Protection Association, also known as the NFPA states that about 70 percent of firefighters are volunteer employees. Firefighters remain at the fire station while not on a call. They eat, sleep and always remain alert to the possibility of an emergency and are able to respond quickly.
Firefighters periodically inspect commercial buildings for safety to familiarize themselves with the local structures in case there is an emergency or fire in the building as well as making sure the building is abiding by the city ordinances. Firefighters work schedules are unique because they work long and strenuous hours that generally exceeds a normal 40 hour work week. Most work 24 hour shifts on and then are off the following 48 to 72 hours for rest, however they may be required to work overtime when responding to a large disaster or emergency. Firefighter job positions will increase as volunteer firefighters are transformed into paid fire service members as areas of population growth create a larger demand for personnel. Potential firefighters will have to overcome tough competition which will require determination and passion. Applicants that maintain a high level of physical fitness and extend their education will have the best chance of getting hired in the fire service.
The Fire Service is one of the most sought after professions for many reasons. It is estimated that there are in excess of 350,000 career firefighting positions solely in the United States of America. Most of these positions are available in the larger municipality fire departments which have an abundant tax base for funding the services of a large fire department. Small and rural towns generally offer a volunteer fire department due to the lower budget of the area. The fire service has an annual personnel turn over rate of around 10 to 20 percent. The rate of turnover can be attributed to many different reasons. This includes, but is not limited to; promotions, retirement, transfers and other personal reasons. It is very common for fire departments that operate in areas of high population to be awarded extra funds for expansion within their geographic area. On the other side, there are a few areas that may experience a reduction in paid fire personnel because of the areas economic status. Almost every community will eventually grow which means hiring of more firefighters. Additionally, almost every department will keep a record of its applicants for future consideration.