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A fire lieutenant’s position is a step above a regular firefighter–the lieutenant is still responsible for responding to fire and other emergencies in his community, but has the additional responsibility of supervising other firefighters, engineers and officers. As a result, a fire lieutenant may earn a higher salary. He must have a strong work ethic and be a reliable worker in order to gain the position.
A fire lieutenant works under the fire captain, and is responsible for supervising other firefighters and fire engineers when working at a fire scene or other emergency. He organizes and supervises the day-to-day tasks at the fire station, and also provides training on safety procedures and fire equipment to firefighters and engineers. When an emergency arises, the lieutenant is responsible for utilizing the fire and rescue equipment, as well as providing emergency medical treatment to victims as necessary. He also assists with employee training and evaluation, and may be responsible for preparing and presenting educational lectures for the public as well.
Promotion to fire lieutenant usually requires several years of experience employed as a firefighter or fire engineer, as well as some type of formal training. This can be a firefighter certificate awarded by a state or local government body, or a two- or four-year degree in fire engineering or fire science. A fire lieutenant must also be certified as an emergency medical technician. Larger fire departments may also require lieutenants to obtain higher certification as a paramedic. Applicants may also have to pass written exams, physical tests and a medical examination, and should be able to work well on a team as well as direct others effectively.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook reported that in May 2008, fire lieutenants employed in full-time positions earned a salary ranging from $50,464 per year to $60,772 per year. Fire lieutenants who work more than a certain number of hours per week may also be eligible to earn overtime pay. Many fire departments also provide benefits such as health insurance, paid vacation and sick leave, and pension plans.
Employment for supervisors and managers of firefighting workers is expected to increase by 8 percent between 2008 and 2018, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. The increase in people living in or near cities will result in a larger demand for paid firefighting positions as the numbers of emergencies increase. However, applicants should expect to face competition for these positions, and those who are physically fit and have some form of qualifications will have the best chances.
The majority of a fire lieutenant’s time is spent in the office of a fire station, where it is usually quiet. However, when responding to an emergency, fire lieutenants will be exposed to many environmental dangers, including fire, smoke and chemicals, dangerous individuals and/or animals, traffic hazards, and natural disasters. On average, the fire lieutenant will work between 40 and 50 hours per week, and may have longer shifts, being on for 24 hours, and then off for 48 hours.
Alexandra Schmidt has been writing professionally since 2006, contributing to several online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and is pursuing her doctorate in counseling psychology at the University of Missouri.