Firefighters use a variety of skills to perform important duties for their communities. Firefighters fight fires, but they also respond to emergencies like natural disasters and car accidents, which can require a unique set of skills. Learning about skills like spatial awareness and good communication can help you determine if firefighting is a potential career for you. In this article, we discuss what a firefighter is, what their responsibilities are, and the nine skills firefighters have.
Who is a Firefighter?
A firefighter is a first responder who puts out fires, provides support to emergency response professionals, and helps with other emergency rescue situations. Firefighters are experts in fire prevention and some are also emergency medical technicians (EMTs).
There are three types of firefighters:
Wholetime firefighter: A full-time firefighter typically works as a full-time firefighter in an urban environment.
Retained firefighter: A retained firefighter typically lives or works near a fire station in a rural area so they can respond quickly to emergencies. They usually have other full-time jobs and work as firefighters in addition to their primary jobs.
Volunteer firefighter: A volunteer firefighter doesn’t earn wages for their services, and they often live or work near a fire station to provide support in case of an emergency.
What does a Firefighter do?
A firefighter has four primary responsibilities:
A firefighter’s primary duty is to fight fires that occur within their jurisdiction. Firefighters can operate two types of fire trucks that carry their equipment. One type of truck carries water hoses and the second type of truck carries aerial ladders that firefighters may use to rescue people from burning buildings.
When responding to an emergency, firefighters follow the instructions of their commanding officer and perform one of the following tasks:
Hose operator: The hose operator hooks the truck’s water hose to a nearby fire hydrant.
Pump operator: The pump operator directs the flow of water from the hose to the burning building.
Tiller: The tiller directs the aerial ladders onto buildings to perform rescues.
Many firefighters also have emergency medical technician training to help them provide medical care to people rescued from burning buildings. Some firefighters are responsible for stabilizing burn victims and transporting them to medical centers. Firefighters can also respond to situations that don’t involve fires, such as accidents, natural disasters, or searches for missing persons.
Firefighters also educate people about what they can do to prevent fires. They conduct training and provide brochures or information packets to update people on recent fire prevention methods. They also conduct fire code inspections, which ensure that people who own buildings are following guidelines to make a building safe from a fire’s potential start or spread.
Firefighters are also responsible for cleaning and maintaining their equipment and organizing firehouses. Their equipment is an important part of their firefighting duties, so keeping it well-maintained can help a firefighter complete their duties quickly during an emergency.
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9 important firefighter skills
Here are some important skills for firefighters:
Firefighters use strong communication skills when working with other firefighters during emergency situations. These skills can help them complete their duties quickly when they need to follow instructions from their chain of command, share changing conditions of fires, and communicate with patients and victims. Firefighters also use communication skills when giving presentations about fire safety.
Firefighters use problem-solving skills to analyze situations and form plans of action quickly. These skills help firefighters recognize potential risks and compare those risks with the benefits of their actions. Firefighters assess fires and building damage to make quick decisions about the safest way to put out fires, enter buildings, and make rescues.
3. Social competence
Firefighters use social competence to interact with coworkers for extended periods of time. Social competence is the ability to get along with people and navigate social situations. Firefighters work long shifts in the firehouse, often sleeping and eating with other firefighters, so it’s beneficial for them to get along with people and handle interpersonal disputes with tact. Firefighters also perform their duties as a unit, so they use teamwork skills frequently. The ability to see how their actions affect surrounding people is a very important skill.
4. Time management
Firefighters use time management skills when dealing with multiple responsibilities. They determine the priority of multiple tasks and try to complete them with speed and efficiency. They also use this skill as emergency responders when handling situations where victims may need urgent medical care or when the rapid spread of fire means that the firefighters’ objectives are changing quickly.
5. Spatial awareness
Firefighters use spatial awareness to create entry plans for burning buildings and courses of action during emergency response situations. Spatial awareness is when someone can recognize patterns in a space and understand a space’s dimensions by looking at it. People with spatial awareness can remember how a room or a building originally looked after items within it have moved. This skill can be helpful when firefighters are trying to navigate a burning building where walls or furniture may have deteriorated.
6. Physical fitness
Staying physically fit and maintaining their health can improve a firefighter’s ability to perform their duties and support their team. This is one of the most important skills a firefighter can have because it helps them complete many of their duties, like directing large pieces of machinery and carrying people.
A successful firefighter can adapt to their situations to overcome any obstacles that may prevent them from performing their duties. Adaptability means being able to change with circumstances, which is an important skill for emergency responders because they’re often the first people at a fire. For example, they may have to adapt to new team members, different roles or changing social environments in order to live and work with their team successfully.
8. Mechanical aptitude
Firefighters use mechanical aptitude when working with a variety of tools and equipment to perform their duties. They need to know how to operate, clean, and repair this equipment in order to use it safely and contribute to their team. Understanding how machines work can also help a firefighter navigate their surroundings during an emergency. For example, some basic auto-mechanical knowledge can help the first responder at the scene of a car accident.
9. First aid
First aid skills are very important for successful firefighters. In many areas, EMTs and firefighters work together and some jurisdictions require firefighters to get EMT training. In order to perform their duties, a firefighter should have an aptitude for biology, know medical terminology, and have a compassionate attitude toward the injured when dealing with victims of fires or other emergency situations.
I hope you find this article helpful.