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Becoming a firefighter (Fireman) is not a simple career. It requires hard work, extensive training, commitment, and a genuine desire to aid others.
The firefighting profession is also highly competitive. Depending on the department, you will compete with hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants. How will you distinguish yourself and where do you begin?
This article discusses the duties of a firefighter, how to become a firefighter, and frequently asked inquiries regarding this position.
Who is a FireFighter or Fireman?
The main goal of a firefighter is to protect people, property, and the environment from fire damage by extinguishing active fires and averting new ones. If you are looking for a job in California that allows you to assist others, you may want to consider becoming a firefighter. Understanding the requirements for this profession can help you decide if this is the right career for your skills, preferences, and experiences.
What does a firefighter do?
Some of a firefighter’s daily duties can differ depending on their training, precise job title, and qualifications. Other firefighters with emergency medical technician (EMT) certification may concentrate on providing emergency medical services.
The general main duties of a firefighter may include:
- Responding to emergencies involving active fires or individuals requiring immediate rescue or medical care
- Participating in search-and-rescue operations, assisting during traffic accidents, and disaster relief
- Working with other specialists, including police officers, hazardous waste specialists, paramedics, and fire investigators.
- Driving fire engines and other rescue vehicles
- Extinguishing active fires with fire extinguishers, hydrants, water pipes, and water pumps.
- Conducting drills pertaining to extinguishing fires or rescuing individuals
- Performing routine maintenance and repairs on the vehicles and equipment
- Maintaining the interior and exterior of the fire station
- Educating the public on fire safety, such as how to prevent fires and how to remain safe if a fire breaks out, as well as evacuation procedures.
- Reporting on their responses to recent active flames or other disasters
- Assisting fire investigators in identifying potential fire causes
- Wildfire and wildland-urban interface (WUI) fire suppression
How to become a firefighter (Fireman)?
- MEET BASIC REQUIREMENTS FOR FIREFIGHTER SELECTION
In order to become a firefighter, you must possess a valid driver’s license and be at least 18 years old. For those younger than 18, limited participation as a novice firefighter is an option. There may also be an upper age limit, typically between 28 and 35 years old, depending on the department applying.
- MEET REQUIREMENTS FOR EDUCATION
You must earn a high school diploma or a General Equivalency Diploma (GED) as a bare minimum. Numerous firefighters pursue degrees in fire science in order to advance their careers. Also prudent is becoming an EMT. A background in both firefighting and emergency medical services will increase your chances of being employed. Larger departments may require a paramedic’s license in addition to EMT certification.
- Obtain your EMT certification
Enroll in a certification program for EMTs. Although not all California fire departments require EMT certification for firefighters, many do. In certain California fire departments, you can obtain your EMT certification after being offered a position. Investigate the certification requirements for your local fire department.
- GET IN GOOD PHYSICAL CONDITION
To become a firefighter, one must pass a physical aptitude examination. The CPAT competitions consist of the stair climb, hose drag, equipment carry, ladder raise and extension, forcible entry, search and rescue, ceiling breach, and draw. Prepare yourself for both the physical nature of the job and the test requirements.
- Participate in the firefighter candidate assessment (FCA) examination
The following stage is to pass the FCA exam. Numerous California fire departments require applicants to pass this standardized examination before being considered for employment. The FCA includes a multimedia section in which candidates respond to video and audio prompts posed by a computer. In addition, there is a section for self-description that allows candidates to characterize various aspects of their professional conduct and how they might behave in various situations.
- REFRAIN FROM TROUBLE
At some point in your life, you have likely committed an act of which you are not proud. When applying for a position as a firefighter, it will be crucial to demonstrate how you’ve addressed past errors. Mike Pertz, a columnist for FireRescue1 and founder of a website dedicated to assisting others in becoming firefighters, recently penned an article on this very topic.
During an interview, if you are asked about your past accomplishments, do not fib. Instead, accept responsibility for your errors. Explain to the recruiting committee how you have changed and what you have done to alter your behavior. Also, be honest about your driving record; include the dates, locations, and outcomes of any traffic violations or accidents.
What skills are required to become firefighters?
Firefighters use both soft and physical or technical skills to successfully complete their duties. Before pursuing this career path, you may find it beneficial to develop or strengthen the following knowledge and abilities:
- Medical care and knowledge of first assistance
- Commercial driving
- Knowledge of fire prevention and wildland fire behavior
- Installation of an emergency
- Physical conditioning and endurance
- Knowledge of specialized fire apparatus
- Mathematical aptitudes Critical thinking talents
- Problem-solving expertise
- Management of time capacities
- Communication expertise
Salary for firefighters: How much do Firefighters make?
In California, the average salary for firefighters is $57,570 per year. Your income in this state can vary based on your area of expertise and credentials, such as if you suppress wildfires. Other variables can affect your salary, such as the city or metropolitan area in which you work, your training, and your years of experience.
In May 2022, the median annual salary for firefighters was $51,680. The median wage is the wage at which half of the employees in a particular occupation earned more and half earned less. The bottom 10 percent earned less than $29,150, while the top 10 percent earned over $84,750.
In May 2022, the following were the median annual wages for firefighters in the main industries in which they worked:
- Government of the United States excluding postal service$56,660
- Excluding education and hospitals, local government accounts for 55.7
- Government of the state, excluding education and hospitals 50,880
Firefighter salary in Texas: Highest paying cities for Firefighters/Paramedics near Texas · Dallas, TX. $77,974 per year. 8 salaries reported · Farmers Branch, TX. $76,723 per year.
Firefighter salary in Los Angeles: The average salary for a Firefighter is $56241 per year in Los Angeles, CA.
Firefighter salary in UK: The average salary for a Firefighter is £29804 per year in United Kingdom.
Worktime routines of Firefighters
Typically, firefighters work lengthy hours; overtime is common and their hours vary. For instance, firefighters might work 24-hour schedules followed by 48 or 72 hours off duty.
When fighting forest and wildland fires, firefighters may be required to labor for extended periods of time. When a wildfire breaks out, firefighters may be required to remain in a fire camp, a temporary site set up to provide shelter and support for days or weeks.
Seasonal employment for wildland firefighters is possible. There are periods of the year when wildland firefighters may not work or have limited hours.
What is the selection process for firefighters?
If you meet the necessary qualifications to become a Burbank firefighter, you may be considered for this position upon successful completion of any combination of the following:
- Written Test: May measure your ability to understand written and oral directions, mathematics, mechanical aptitude and reasoning skills.
- Physical Agility: Consists of events designed to measure your physical endurance, strength and agility.
- Oral Interview: Evaluates your reasoning and problem solving abilities as well as your interpersonal and communication skills.
- Background Investigation: Includes a thorough check of personal and employment histories along with contacting persons who know you and can evaluate your potential as a Burbank firefighter.
- Truth Verification Examination: Confirms the accuracy of the information provided in the background investigation.
- Psychological Evaluation: Determines if you are presently suited to perform the difficult and stressful job of a firefighter.
- Medical and Orthopedic Examination: Confirms you are in good health with no conditions which would restrict your ability to safely perform firefighting duties.
- Department Interview: Conducted with the Fire Chief for final selection.