How to Become a Firefighter (with Job Duties and Salary)

Becoming a firefighter is an incredibly rewarding career, offering the chance to serve your community and help those in need. It’s also a physically demanding job, requiring an array of knowledge and skills. Here’s what you need to know to become a firefighter.

Job Duties
Firefighters respond to various emergency situations, including structure fires, motor vehicle collisions, hazardous material incidents, and medical emergencies. They also perform rescue operations during floods and other disasters. In addition to responding to emergencies, firefighters check and maintain firefighting equipment, inspect buildings for fire hazards, and provide public education about fire safety.

Education and Training
The minimum education requirement for firefighters is a high school diploma or equivalent. Some fire departments, however, require additional education, such as an associate’s degree in fire science, emergency medical services, or a related field. Firefighters must also complete a minimum of 240 hours of basic training, which covers hazardous materials, first aid, and firefighting tactics.

Most states and localities require firefighters to obtain certification from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). To become an NFPA-certified firefighter, you must pass a written and practical exam that covers topics such as safety, hazardous materials, and firefighting tactics.

Physical Requirements
Firefighting is a physically demanding job, and firefighters must be in excellent physical condition. Firefighters must be able to lift heavy objects and carry them up and down ladders and staircases. They must also have excellent stamina and agility to navigate cramped spaces and tight turns while wearing heavy protective gear.

The median annual salary for firefighters is $49,620, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries vary based on experience, training, and location, with firefighters in some metropolitan areas earning more than those in more rural areas. Firefighters may also receive additional pay for overtime and for working on holidays.

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