Fire departments are one of the most iconic symbols of American culture. We’ve all seen ambulances driving around our streets, dreamt 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!