Firefighter Job Description & Duties

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Every day, firefighters are called to serve a civic duty, which is to protect citizens in a time of crisis. Firefighters are one of the more well rounded and versatile emergency task forces in the world. Their goal is "to serve and to protect," and they really do it well. The following are a firefighter's job description and duties.


Firefighters protect the lives of others when danger strikes. Traditionally, this is when a fire breaks out, although firefighters can handle many other types of emergency situations, including vehicle accidents and water rescues. Firefighters are called first responders for a reason. Typically, they are the first to respond to an emergency. Because of that, firefighters must handle a broad range of emergency situations as well as the mass hysteria that blooms out of a severe accident.


Prospective firefighters must be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma. Prospective firefighters take the entrance fire exam, although more individuals are first attending college and learning more experience about the career. A lot of colleges offer special 2- or 4-year programs for prospective firefighters. The exam includes a written section, tests of strength, and a medical examination. Applicants with the highest scores will endure weeks of formal training at an academy.


Firefighters are organized under different commanding officers, with different specific tasks. For example, tillers guide the fire truck ladders. Hose operators connect the hoses to fire hydrants and pump operators inspect the hose and make sure water pumps through. The majority of fire stations and firefighters work under a city or community government, however some fire stations do operate under a private company. Volunteer firefighters have other full-time jobs, but they fill a great need by assisting full-time employees in the time of a crisis or major fire. The main duty of a firefighter is to safely handle a fire. First, the firefighting team must save any citizen in danger or trapped inside the infrastructure. Second, the firefighters must handle the fire, and put out the flames with as minimal damage as possible to the infrastructure and no personal harm. Sometimes firefighters are stuck in a dangerous situation and even worse, some lose their lives while trying to save others.

Types of Firefighting

The majority of fires are either classified as house fires or wilderness fires. Both are handled differently. Usually individuals are put in danger in house fires. Even if everyone is evacuated, the home owners stand the risk of losing everything in their home. Wild fires are much broader and harder to contain. Wild fires can change directions in a matter of moments and destroying hundreds of acres with little effort.

Pay and Benefits

Firefighters will earn promotions the longer they stay in the department and earn approval from the supervisors. Captain, battalion chief and fire chief are the three most sought after positions on a fire squad. According to, about 353,000 firefighters are employed in the United States. The employment outlook also appears very positive through 2014. Salaries vary by location and experience, with the average salary at $18.34 per hour.