Fire Fighting

Fire Fighting


Firefighters are among the frontline workers who serve and protect the public by responding to fires and other emergencies, including hazardous-materials spills, high-angle and rope rescue, disaster response (tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes), confined-space and trench rescue, vehicle extrication, terrorism response, water/ice rescue, and canine search and rescue. In addition to fighting structure fires, firefighters battle wildland blazes in forests and other areas where structures may or may not be involved.

Over the years, fire fighting has evolved from a profession that was once handled primarily by volunteers to one undertaken by well-trained career professionals. Perhaps one of the most important developments in firefighters' jobs was that providing emergency care to the ill and injured became a key responsibility. Most professional firefighters are not only trained in fire suppression but are also trained as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or paramedics. Firefighters' duties also include fire prevention, fire investigation, fire education, and community relations.

The fire service is divided into two divisions: paid career firefighters and volunteer firefighters. Large cities may employ several thousand firefighters, while small towns might have only a few firefighters who are volunteers. Among the careers in fire fighting are fire chiefs, who are responsible for the administrative and technical work of planning, organizing, and directing the municipality's fire fighting and fire-prevention activities. Chiefs also are responsible for training, staffing, budgeting, and all other administrative matters. Fire administrative officers help with the department's business-management activities and sometimes assist chiefs. Deputy fire chiefs are responsible for the department's administrative and supervisory duties, including organizing platoons and scheduling shifts, dealing with departmental discipline and filling in for chiefs d...