How to Get Started as a Career Firefighter

These days firefighters do a lot more than put out fires. They rescue people, they direct fire prevention programs, they handle hazardous chemicals and they do inspection or investigation. In addition, firefighters do maintenance work and cleaning of their hoses and other equipment so that they will be prepared to respond swiftly when there is a fire emergency. Also, cities depend on firefighters to provide emergency medical transportation during natural disasters or other occasions when they are needed.

Firefighters work 56 hours per week or more if needed; much depends on how often fires occur in their locale. Firefighters work in a fire station with other firefighters, and they are paid approximately USD $47,000 per year or more. The demand for firefighters is projected to grow in the coming years. If you are interested in getting started as a career firefighter, the following are steps that you need to take.

Decide What City You Want to Work In

Determine what city you want to be a career firefighter in. Go to the city personnel offices in order to find out if there are any plans to hire firefighters in the near future. Also, at the city personnel offices, ask general questions about what the application process will be like.

Meet Minimum Requirements

Be at least 21 years old. In some locales, you could potentially be a volunteer firefighter when you are as young at 18 years old; however, being a full-fledged firefighter typically occurs at age 21 or older. Get at least a high school diplmoma. College is not required; however, if you go to college, fire science would be a useful major. Have a record that is clear of felonies or chronic drug abuse. Having a valid driver’s license is necessary. Also, be certain that you are willing to tolerate the extreme levels of stress that come with this job.

Being a firefighter is psychologically and physically demanding. Fear cannot limit you, and you have to be strong enough to carry hoses and other equipment that you need to carry to put out fires and do other aspects of this job. Being a career firefighter is a 24-hour a day job. You could get called to go fight a fire at any time. This is an active job; you will not be doing a lot of deskwork. You need to have a genuine desire to serve others; you must be willing to risk your own life in order to save others’ lives.

Get Paramedic Training and Pass Exams

Before applying to be a career firefighter, get a paramedic’s license. Many fire departments happen to be actively seeking licensed paramedics. So, you will greatly improve your chances of acceptance for firefighting training if you already have a paramedic credential at the time you pursue being a firefighter.

Take and pass the required exams. The nature of the exams will vary depending on the locale. Sometimes you might be required to pass a civil service test. Other times you might have to pass a firefighter’s entrance exam. Cities tend to develop their own tests in order to assess candidates’ aptitude in a way that fits their particular locale.

Candidates are required to go through a background check, a polygraph test, a drug test, a psychological assessment and an interview. Also required is the Candidate Physical Ability test (CPA); this test assesses candidates’ endurance, flexibility, strength and general fitness. Exam results are used to rank candidates. If a candidate is offered a job as a firefighter, there is a post-hire medical exam.

First Year of Work

The first year of work as a career firefighter will be probationary. Adjusting to the stressful 24-hour schedule will be most difficult. You will find it very challenging; perseverance will be necessary. As a newly-hired firefighter, everything that you do on the job will be evaluated. Then, if you manage to get through the first year of firefighting work successfully, depending on the locale, there could be an additional state written exam and a practical certification exam.

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Fire Departments

Fire departments are one of the most iconic symbols of American culture. We’ve all seen ambulances driving around our streets, dreamed of being firefighters when we grew up, and heard the call of sirens as firefighters were called to put out a fire. But, what exactly do goes into the average United States fire department? What do they do? How do they work?
What is a fire department?

Fire departments can be a public or private organization. They provide fire protection as well as other different types of protection to whatever jurisdiction they’re assigned. These usually come in the form of a small county, city, or district. They usually contain one or more fire departments within the assigned district.

Who works at Fire Departments?

We’ve all seen pictures of heroic-looking firefighters in bright, red uniforms, but who are the real firefighters working at our fire departments? Fire departments are staffed with a variety of different employees. The type of people that work at each fire department varies from district to district. Fire departments are usually staffed with career firefighters, volunteer firefighters, or a combination of the two.

So, what’s the difference between the two?

Career firefighters are firefighters that have gone through extensive training and education in firefighting. Many of them have completed college courses on firefighting and EMT training. They are hired by individual municipalities to take care of emergency situations. They work in organized shifts with regularly paid salaries.

Volunteer firefighters differ from career firefighters on several levels. Volunteer firefighters go through a training and fire-education similar to career firefighters, but do not have the same kind of salary. Volunteer firefighters often only act on an on-call basis, responding only to emergencies. They are paid based on their time spent on the scene, working.

What Does a Firefighter Do?

We all know what firefighters work to put out fires, but their jobs include much more than that. They’re one of the first people on call for different types of emergencies. Some of their jobs include:

· Putting out fires (this includes house fires, forest fires, and other types of fires).

· Providing emergency medical care for people involved in automobile accidents.

· Educating the public about fire safety through school visits and workshops

· Repair and maintain fire equipment to be used in emergencies.
How are Fire Departments Organized?

Fire departments are organized in a four-tier system of workers. These tiers are known as administration, service, raining, and operations.

· Administration personnel are primarily responsible for supervising workers. They are also in charge of budgets, making sure that they fire department has the money it needs to continue its work. This could mean setting up the occasional fundraiser for their fire department. Administration also handles policy and human resources operations.

· Service personnel offer protection, educational, and safety services to the public. They are the main connection between the fire department itself and the community it protects.

· Training personnel train the individual employees that work at the fire department.

· Operations personnel is a more formal term for the firefighters themselves. They perform the harmful tasks that serve and protect the community such as putting out fires, rescuing people from dangerous situations, and helping with natural disasters.

What Happens in the Event of a Fire?

When a fire occurs, it must be called in before any a fire department can help take care of it. After the fire is called in, the fire department responds to the call through a signal that is sounded throughout the fire department’s offices. When this signal goes off, the firefighters themselves have a very short amount of time to respond to the emergency before it becomes too dangerous, even fatal.

Larger fire departments have larger branches within themselves to increase efficiency. This means more employees, more trucks, and more opportunities to save lives. These smaller branches may also be composed of support teams and research groups, which allow for the discoveries of different technologies to better serve the public in the case of emergencies.

How Can I Become a Firefighter?

One of the best things you can do to be on your way to becoming a firefighter is volunteer your time. Fire departments are looking for people who not only care about their community, but have the time and dedication to make it a better place. It’s a great way to get out and do community volunteer work. It’s also an excellent way to build your resume since the work shows dedication, hard work, and stamina. You might also want to consider working with places such as the American Red Cross that work in conjunction with fire departments.

If you want to speed up the process towards becoming a firefighter and working with your local fire department, then you can also take a fir technology class from your local community college. Signing up for one of these classes is also a great way to prove your dedication to firefighting. Taking this type of class will teach you everything that training can’t cover, such as the science behind firefighting. The typical firefighting class will take about 53 hours total to complete. These classes are available at most community colleges nation-wide, so be sure to check your local schools and start getting involved as soon as possible!

Stopping by your local fire station is a great way to become acquainted with the job on a firs hand basis. Most firefighters would love the chance to sit down and explain what their job entails. Also, getting to know the station you want to work in before you even apply there can be a great jump start to your future career options, familiarize yourself with the layout of the fire department, and ask about individual tasks and equipment. Firefighters will be able to tell you better than anyone else what kind of lifestyle you’re signing up for with the job.

So, there you have it, a crash course on the people that help to keep our communities safe from not only fires, but from natural disasters and other emergencies. If you are interested in helping out with your local fire department, do a quick search online and see if there are any opportunities available!

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Death Toll in Mexican Day Care Fire Rises to 44

mexicandaycareA Mexican state prosecutor says a fire that tore through a day care center, killing 44 young children, may have been caused by a short circuit or overheating of a cooling system at a nearby warehouse.

Sonora state prosecutor Abel Murrieta issued his assessment Monday as more than 30 people remained hospitalized following Friday’s blaze at the ABC day care center.  The burn victims were being treated in both Mexico and the United States.

Officials say many of the victims who died from smoke inhalation were under the age of five.  Authorities have said more than 140 children were inside the facility when the blaze erupted in the building next door.

Witnesses said flames blocked the day care center’s only exit, and that one parent used his pickup truck to knock a hole through the wall to rescue children.

Authorities have vowed to fully investigate the fire.

The day care center had recently passed a safety inspection.

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Wildfire Arsonist Sentenced to Death For Killing 5 Firefighters

Wild Fire Arsonist A California man was sentenced to death on Friday for setting a hillside inferno in 2006 that killed five USFF firefighters. The penalty had been recommended by the jury that convicted the man, Raymond L. Oyler, 38, of murder and arson in March.

In imposing the sentence, Judge W. Charles Morgan of Superior Court in Riverside County said Mr. Oyler had “set on a mission — why? no one knows — to create havoc in this county by setting fires of his own design, for his own purpose.”

Judge Morgan added, “He knew young men and young women would put their lives on the line to protect property and people.”

Prosecutors said the Beaumont mechanic had set fires throughout the San Gorgonio Pass in the summer of 2006 leading up to the Esperanza fire on Oct. 26.

Early that morning, he used a combination of matches and a cigarette to light a fire in a remote area of Cabazon. Gusty Santa Ana winds drove the flames into the San Jacinto Mountains, where they reached speeds of 40 mph and temperatures of 1,500 degrees.

A U.S. Forest Service firefighting crew based in Idyllwild was overrun by flames while trying to save a house. Those killed were Daniel Hoover-Najera, 20; Pablo Cerda, 23; Mark Loutzenhiser, 43; Jason McKay, 27; and Jess McLean, 27.

Oyler’s trial lasted more than a month, during which jurors were shown gruesome photos of the dead, some of whom suffered burns to more than 90% of their bodies. But even after seeing and hearing the evidence, and after convicting Oyler of first-degree murder, the jury was hesitant to sentence him to death.

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More Firefighters Hit With Layoffs Due to Budget Issues

In another round of budget cuts hurting local fire departments, this time in Brockton MA. In April the city threatened to layoff 20 firefighters in order to meet budget demands and the union was able to save the jobs by giving some financial concessions to free up money until the end of the fiscal year to keep the jobs.  With the new fiscal year set to begin July 1st the city has informed the fire department that 15 jobs are back in front of the firing squad along with other city employees and 74 school teachers. Chief Kenneth Galligan isn’t as optimistic this time about the jobs being saved saying   “The payroll will drop from 185 (people) to 170, the number of uniformed firefighters will go from 169 to 154.” This will be the fourth time fire department jobs are cut in Brockton due to budget issues.  Over the last 3 city budgets 28 other firefighters have been cut.  Galligan said Tower 1 on the East Side will be shut down if the layoffs happen. That will leave the city with just two ladder trucks.  The impact on the saftey of residents has yet to be determined.

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Two twin brother firefighters overcome diability to help others

Abernathy BrothersTwin brothers Kent and Brent Abernathy of the Geraldine Fire Department have managed to covercome their diablities to save people and property.  Both brothers suffer from spastic paralegia which is a disease that progressively weakens the leg and hip muscles, making it difficult or, in some cases, impossible to walk or stand.  Both brothers have been fighting it since they were in the 6th grade.

Spastic paraplegia is a neurological disorder. The nerves hold the leg muscles tense, preventing the individual from walking normally. Lengthening the tendons allowed the muscles to relax slightly and put the twins back flat on their feet. That surgery is the only form of treatment Brent and Kent ever received. Terry said the doctors informed them that lengthening the heel cords was really all they could do.

Firefighting is one of those things they were determined to try. Brent said he and his brother get their love of the job from their dad. Terry has been a member of the Tenbroeck Volunteer Fire Department for most of his sons’ lives. Brent and Kent grew up washing, waxing and working on fire trucks. When they were 16, Terry decided they were old enough to go on their first call. By the time they graduated high school, both had become members of their dad’s department.

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Milkwaukee County suburbs fire departments strugle with diversity

Out of the 600+ firefighters that work in the Milwaukee County suburbs, only one is African-American, according to a Journal Sentinel survey. That lone African American firefighter was hired, in West Allis, just nine months ago. The survey was done after a suburban fire chief was suspended last month for using racial slurs. The results led some African- American leaders to demand that suburban departments do more to attract African-Americans to firefighting.

According to census figures show that nearly 12,000 African-Americans live in the 18 Milwaukee County suburbs.  That accounts for about 3.3% of the total population while the 1 firefighter accounts for just 0.15% of the firefighters. Wauwatosa Fire Chief Dean Redman said suburban chiefs want their departments to better reflect the communities they serve. The survey results, Redman said, might be what it takes to spur suburban departments to action, perhaps by collaborating to promote firefighting among minority youths.

According to suburban fire chiefs a lack of qualified applicants, and not racism, is the major reason so few firefighters are black.  It’s hard to say what the cause is fore sure but racisim coming fromt he top levels of the fire department probably does not do anything to encourage African Americans to apply for positions with the department. What needs to be addressed, say some African-American leaders, is why the number of applicants is so small. Attention to fire departments and race rose after South Milwaukee Fire Chief Jay Behling admitted using the N-word five times in front of employees at his firehouse in February. The 25 member firehouse in South Milwaukee is all white and officials there don’t remember a black firefighter ever having a position there.

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Indiana City Lays off 10% of fire department

In yet another budget cutting effort by a local government the city of Kokomo Indiana has decided to lay off 12 of their 112 firefighters.  The primary job function of those being laid off was abulance service but they also served in firefighter efforts as well.  The ambulance service is being outsourced to the local hospitals but the work they did assisting in firefighting will not be replaced.  The move is expected to save the city $850,000 per year.  Blake Granson whose brother was one of those included in the layoffs said “We don’t have enough firefighters to protect the citizens of Kokomo,”  and “It’s just going to be a real ugly situation.” Granson went on to say “Somebody’s going to get hurt or killed, and then they’re going to say, ‘OK, we messed up,’” Granson said. “We need to bring these people back on.”

If the cost cutting ends up putting human lives in danger is it really worth it?

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Houston Firefighters Mourn the Loss of 2 of Their Own

Hobbs and Harlow In a tragic fire on Easter morning two Houston firefighters were killed battling a house fire.  Captain James Harlow and probationary rookie firefighter Damion Hobbs, both from State 26, died at the scene while fighting a fire in southeast Houston.  In order to attack the blaze, they decided to go on the defensive and use the ladder truck. Firefighters cut a hole in the roof, but the high wind fueled the fire and it quickly spread through the attic. Neighbors said firefighters were inside the home once the blaze appeared to be dying down. But flames suddenly shot through the roof and erupted sideways through the house. Firefighters were then called outside the home, but two were still missing. Their bodies were found in the house around 1 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. Rescue workers attempted CPR, but the men were pronounced dead at the scene, witnesses said.

Thursday follow the tragic deaths a memorial was held with thousands of firefighters from as far away as Canada showing their support for their fallen brothers.  In a show of solidarity over 450 firefighters from elsewhere in the state of Texas covered local firehouses during the memorial service so the local firefighters could attend the memorial service.

The flag-draped caskets were placed on two fire trucks from Fire Station 26, and thousands of firefighters followed on foot. When the procession reached  the church at 9 a.m., a large crowd of mourners had already gathered near the door. The caskets were carefully removed from the trucks as firefighters stood at attention.  Ladder trucks formed an arch over the area leading into the sanctuary, and a light breeze fluttered dozens of American flags planted for the service. A line of uniformed firefighters, standing eight men wide, trailed from the door of the church to well past the parking lot perimeter.  Behind them, fire trucks and ambulances were lined up for blocks. It took nearly an hour to get everyone inside.

“These men responded to someone they never met, tried to protect something they never owned. And we miss them terribly,” HFD Chief Phil Boriskie said.

“One of the things we struggle with as a department is that we routinely respond to the worst moment in someone’s life. Every day we see countless numbers of tragedies and accidents. And we are not immune,” Boriskie said.

There is an investigation under way to determine what happened and how it can be prevented in the future.  Nobody knew the two men were in trouble until they didn’t return from the house.

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