How to become a Firefighter
The traditional role of firefighters has expanded to include a variety of duties and functions in addition to original responsibilities.
Traditional duties include the following:
a) Extinguishing, controlling fires
b) Prevention of loss of lives and property
c) Fire prevention
The additional new roles of firefighters now includes:
a) Disaster response
c) Environmental issues
Firefighters by tradition work in teams ; this team is usually headed by a supervising officer known as either the chief fire officer or company officer. Unlike other professionals, firefighters work between 45 to 50 hours each week, this long work week distinguishes them from other professions. Such long hours mean that a fire officer is not necessarily guaranteed time off on public holidays or even the usual weekend.
Requirements to become a firefighter
There are several minimal qualifications or requirements to become a firefighter in most municipalities. These requirements are summarized below.
Drug Screening Tests are conducted to determine whether the candidate uses marijuana, amphetamine, anabolic steroids, cocaine, heroin, methadone, morphine, Quaaludes, or other drugs etc.
Education Usually applicants are required to have a high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma (GED). Increasingly municipalities are requiring college credits and pre-hospital care (EMT/paramedic) certifications.
Language Applicants must speak and understand English.
Legal Status Applicants should not have any legal impediments (felony conviction, for example) to their ability to perform the job functions of firefighter.
Medical and Psychological:Candidates undergo medical (including vision and hearing tests) and psychological examinations to determine if they can perform the functions of a firefighter. Reasonable accommodation is made to enable candidates with disabilities to take these exams.
Polygraph A polygraph, or lie detector, may be used to review a candidate's qualifications and suitability.
Proof of Identity Applicants must provide proof of identity (birth certificate).
Residency A candidate may be required to reside within the area in which he or she is seeking employment; preferential residency examination credit may be granted for candidates living in the area of employment.
How to become a firefighter?
New candidates who have passed the examinations (written, physical, and psychological) are usually required to enter an apprenticeship, trainee, or probationary period., before they offically become a firefighter. Trainee programs teach recruits essentials of firematic functions. These firematic functions are usually specific to their individual departments. Recruits are taught using a variety of job related tasks during drills, as well as through classroom sessions. The firefighter recruit is closley monitored and evaluated to determine if they meet the required standards. Some of the assignments trainees may be exposed to can include: responding to alarms and assisting regular fire personnel in firefighting and emergency duties.
Trainees receive less salary and fewer benefits than established firefighters in the department. After satisfactory completion of the probationary period, they are assigned to a specific unit. Therein after their remuneration packages would become normalized.
What are the risks of firefighting?
Firefighters as their name implies are fighters of fire, this means that there is an elevated risk of serious physical injury or even death in the line of duty. Some of the leading cause of death includes, heart attacks, trauma, bone dislocations, asphyxia, and burns.
Salary of a firefighter
Firefighters on average may work for $20.00 per hour. Officers who function in the capacity of supervisors, and administration earn higher salary differentials. Fire offers' salaries can increase because of fringe benefits which includes overtime,holiday and night differentials. It may also include vacation, insurance, medical and dental plans. Pension or disability compensation if injured in the line of duty.