What Does a Fireman Do?

Firemen, often referred to as firefighters, do a lot more than extinguish fires. Read on and you'll learn more about the many ways firemen help and educate the public. Schools offering Emergency Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Description

As a fireman, you'll be called on to contain and put out fires in a variety of structures. To perform these duties safely, you attend a training academy where you learn to work with other firefighters and your gear. During the downtime between emergencies, you perform maintenance on your equipment, work on your physical fitness, and perform drills to keep your skills sharp. Fuel fires are also a concern for firefighters, so you'll be trained to deal with these, whether they involve regular or alternative fuels.

Specialized Duties

Aerial firefighters combine the skills of pilots and firemen. As an aerial firefighter, you'd use airplanes, cargo planes, and helicopters to contain wildfires and forest fires. This is accomplished by dropping water or chemical suppressants to burning areas that ground firefighters may have difficulty reaching. A related firefighting specialty is smoke jumping. If you were a smoke jumper, you'd find yourself parachuting into these same areas to fight fires on the ground.

Additional Responsibilities

Many of the calls you respond to as a firefighter are for other emergencies that have nothing to do with fires. For example, firefighters are taught a variety of extraction methods for helping trapped individuals out of wrecked vehicles and from under crushing weights. Accordingly, you need to have risk-assessment skills that allow you to make quick yet safe decisions that take many factors into account, such as the severity of someone's injury or amount of time before a vehicle bursts into flames.

Since firefighters are often the first on the scene of an incident, you also go through first-responder training if you become a firefighter, which includes learning basic emergency medical care. Working in certain geographic areas could require you to be prepared for specific emergencies. For example, California firefighters are equipped to handle menaces such as killer bees.

Community Outreach

As a firefighter, you'll have opportunities to work with your community. Firefighters teach fire prevention and basic first aid classes in elementary schools and at fire stations. Fire companies also host CPR training classes.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the median annual salary earned by firefighters was $45,600 in May 2013. The employment of firefighters is expected to grow by seven percent between 2012 and 2022, per the BLS, which is slower than the national average of 11% for all occupations.

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