Firefighter Job Description, Skills, and Salary
Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of a firefighter. Feel free to use our firefighter job description template to produce your own. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as a firefighter.
Who is a Firefighter?
A firefighter is a highly trained personnel who fights and extinguishes fires. The personnel prevents fires and investigates the causes of fire incidents, and serves as an emergency medical technician (EMT) when necessary.
Firefighters get to a fire, car, or domestic incident scene and lend first aid care in these situations, they are also called first responders. Some firefighters work full-time, some are part-time workers, and others are volunteers, especially in smaller towns.
How firefighters respond to fire-related emergencies is, when they get an alert of a fire outbreak, they get their necessary tools, wear their safety equipment, then hop in their fire trucks to the site.
After arriving at the scene, each firefighter reports to a commanding officer and handles their specific task. For example, a Hose operator has to connect hoses to fire hydrants and direct water toward the fire, whereas a pump operator controls water flow. Some are in charge of entering burning buildings to save potential victims; others stabilize victims removed from the burning structure.
In a non-fire automotive accident, firefighters use their EMT training to care for the injured and secure the scene before ambulances and police arrive. In natural disasters, firefighters join other first responders to attend to victims or help search for missing people.
Firefighting job is risky because they respond to places and situations that endanger their lives. They go into dilapidated buildings and weak structures to save lives.
To secure your job and do well as a firefighter, you need to be mentally strong and stable. It is challenging to stay mentally fit in this job because of the kind of events they experience regularly, but they have to keep being mentally focused and sharp to make quick decisions.
A firefighter has to be physically fit because of the physically strenuous tasks such as running around, climbing stairs and ladders, operating the tools, and carrying victims from burning buildings while wearing their safety gear.
Firefighting is not just about quenching the fire. It requires saving humans and animals from dangers, protecting the environment from all forms of disasters, searching for missing people during the chaos, etc. They also get involved in road accidents, plane crashes, building collapses, explosions, etc. While on duty on incident sites, firefighters have to be quite sensitive when engaging with the already distressed members of the public.
Firefighters create awareness in the communities to provide information, advice, and guidance to individuals and groups around health, safety, and wellbeing. They also ensure that local businesses meet fire codes and make sure fire escapes, alarms, and sprinkler systems are in place and in good working order. Some firefighters investigate, locate the source of fires and find evidence of suspected arson.
Different types of firefighters we have are:
Full-time firefighter: A full-time firefighter typically works as a full-time firefighter in an urban environment.
Part-time firefighter: A part-time firefighter typically lives or works near a fire station in a rural area so they can respond quickly to emergencies. They usually have a primary job that is not firefighting and work as firefighters as a side job.
Volunteer firefighter: Many Volunteer firefighters do not get paid for their services. They contribute to the development of a community and help when needed. They do not live far from fire services, so they can hurriedly attend to emergencies when alerted.
There are different roles a firefighter can assume, such as:
Rookie firefighter: A rookie firefighter is an entry-level firefighter in the hierarchy of firefighters. They are given six months to a one-year probationary period, during which they evaluate and undergo training. At the end of the probationary period, they check for evaluation to determine if they qualify or are fit for the position.
Firefighter: After you pass the training as a rookie, you become a fully acknowledged firefighter. A firefighter works on fire incidents and emergency sites most of the time. Their tasks include operating fire equipment, searching, handling hoses, administering first aid care to victims, etc.
Vehicle Engineer: They maintain and ensure the vehicles are in good condition. They drive the trucks during the trip to incident sites. They are also responsible for knowing the location of alarms and hydrants in their jurisdictions.
Fire Lieutenant: They spearhead operations and are also responsible for training prospective candidates. They act as assistant captains when the captain is absent.
Fire Captain: A captain is a high-ranking on-site firefighter. A captain has to possess excellent leadership skills to direct a crew and control the affairs on-site and in the office.
Battalion Chief: This firefighter is the least in the hierarchy of chiefs. A battalion chief handles the administrative aspects of the fire service, such as setting up the schedules for employees. There can be more than one battalion chief who works in different shifts.
Deputy Chief: This is the second rank in the hierarchy of chiefs. The deputy supports the fire chief by ensuring operations are of a high standard. They also assist the fire chief; in creating budgets, training, and community programs.
Fire Chief: A fire chief has the highest-ranking position. The Chief supervises all department roles and operations and ensures excellent communication with the community. A Chief also organizes community awareness and training, plans budgets, and more.
An entry-level firefighter today can be the fire chief in the future. It takes hard work, commitment, competence, and other factors to climb the ladder.
Firefighter Job Description
Below are the firefighter job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write a firefighter job description for your employee. Employers can also use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.
Firefighters perform various duties daily, while other responsibilities are occasional. Their duties are:
- Educate the public and create awareness of fire safety; by going to schools, organizations, and other places to give talks
- Utilize firefighting and rescue equipment to fight fires
- Attend to emergencies such as fire and other forms of accidents
- Examine, maintain and handle equipment while using them and after usage
- Familiarise themselves with the roads and environment so they can attend to emergencies as fast and effectively when they arise
- Undergo extensive physical and academic training by understanding how to use the fire tools and getting to know how things work in the service
- Build a mutual relationship with the community, especially in small communities
- Cross-check building to ensure fire safety, and its practice
- Give first aid; while the medical personnel is on their way
- Collaborate with other first responders when needed
- Respond immediately and safely to emergency calls and requests for assistance
- Save people and animals in terrible conditions
Offer support to survivors and those around in distress during emergency
- At the managerial level, you will:
- Direct the crew members both on-site and in the office
- Draft full incident report on arising cases
- Investigate the cause of the fire and transfer it to relevant authorities if arson
- Prepare a budget and ensure finances are wisely spent
- Check for reviews and performance reports from time to time
- Deal with external agencies and the political aspects of the Fire and Rescue Authority (FRA).
- Obtain a high school certificate or its equivalent
- Get a university degree (optional in some firms)
- Be 18 years and above
- Possess a driver’s license, though role and company vary
- Have a fire science degree or attend a fire academy to become knowledgeable about the job (optional)
- Undergo a few months to one year of training
Here are essential skills firefighters need to excel in their duties:
- Communication: Firefighters are excellent at communicating because, in emergencies, proper communication between themselves and the victims goes a long way. They also need this skill to educate the public on fire safety.
- Problem-solving: Firefighters have to be skilled at problem-solving to identify potential risks and solve them. During the chaos, it is hard to think straight; however, they have to stay in check to find solutions. They can examine fires and damages caused, then quickly strategize ways to go into buildings or structures to save victims.
- Teamwork: Firefighters should be good at team playing. It is an important skill to excel because team efforts produce great results. While fighting fires, working as a team will enable a fast response to a fire emergency. At times, a firefighter has to search for a missing person or do other tasks; delegating tasks in proportion will help the team members to be successful in theirs.
- Time management: Time awaits no one, so one needs to know how to manage their time effectively in firefighting. In emergencies, every second counts, so you have to be proactive. For example, A forest can burn down a few seconds or minutes after you bring out a survivor from it; those few seconds or minutes can save the life of the survivor and yourself.
- Spatial awareness: Firefighters use spatial awareness to create entry plans for burning buildings and action plans during emergency response situations. People with this skill, who have visited a room can recall how that room or building appeared before the displacement of things. It is helpful for firefighters because it enables them to navigate a burning building with its walls and furniture in terrible condition.
- Physical fitness: Firefighters can perform their duties and support their team by staying fit and maintaining their health. Firefighting is strenuous, so one needs to be physically fit to do the run-around, jumping, climbing, dragging, and even carrying survivors.
- Adaptability: Successful firefighters can adapt to their surroundings to overcome any obstacles that may prevent them from carrying out their duties. Adaptability refers to the ability to change with the circumstances, which is essential for emergency responders because they are frequently the first people on the scene of a fire. For example, they may need to adjust to new team members, different roles, or changing social environments; to successfully work with their team.
- Mechanical knowledge: Firefighters use existing mechanical knowledge to operate the tools and perform their duties. Knowing how to clean, use and fix these tools helps them navigate their tasks. There are engineers dedicated to handling machines and vehicles; other roles in firefighting still need to know the basics.
- First aid: Successful firefighters must be able to administer first aid to victims. They learn basic medical terminology and how to apply first aid in crucial situations. After administering first aid, EMTs can follow up with the victims at the hospitals and medical facilities.
How to Become a Firefighter
It is not easy to become a firefighter. It takes dedication, long hours of training, and a genuine desire to help others.
The field of firefighting is competitive. Depending on the department, you may face hundreds or thousands of applicants.
A firefighter needs to acquire a high school diploma or its equivalent. Recently, some firefighting firms require a university degree for specific roles. If you have previously worked as an emergency medical technician, it might increase your chances of getting the job; some fire service departments require an EMT certificate or paramedic license.
You must possess a valid driver’s license and be 18 years old and above.
You need to pass a physical ability exercise like running, climbing stairs and ladders, dragging of hose, forcible entry, and more.
Live a worthy lifestyle as a citizen both on social media and in person. Try to keep a good record and break the law to avoid likely impediments to your application and interview process.
Volunteer for a great cause or/and work in community development service. It might give you an edge because it shows you have the passion and zeal to help people and the community. Though not compulsory, if possible, volunteer in a fire department.
The organizations will evaluate your mental health to ensure you are mentally fit for the job.
If you have a fire academy in your vicinity, attend one to give you more ideas and prepare you for what is ahead.
Pass all the interview stages, from physical drills to mental exercise, to drug screening tests, etc.
Where to Work as a Firefighter
- Military organizations
- Fire services
- Airports and ports
- Oil and gas industries
- Chemical companies
- Pharmaceutical companies
Firefighter Salary Scale
The average annual salary of a Fire Fighter in the United States is $48,800, it ranges between $35,211 and $62,400.
In the United Kingdom, a trainee firefighter’s starting salary is £23,820 and will likely increase to £32,354 after the training.
Crew manager pay ranges from £32,901 to £34,529. The earning potential of a station manager ranges between £41,555 and £45,300 plus overtime rates, depending on the officer’s level of competence.