Dedicating oneself to saving the lives of others is undoubtedly challenging. Many people think twice to help a senior citizen cross the road as they are preoccupied with their busy schedules. Nevertheless, the job of a firefighter is all about saving lives and helping those in danger. But, what is it like to be a firefighter and how to become a firefighter? Full-time firefighters commit their time and energy to help protect the public in emergency and helpless situations. Firefighters are always at the edge of their seats, prepared to attend to calls. Be it fires, car crashes, chemical spills or unexpected flooding or water rescues.
One of the world’s worst fires recorded was Australia’s 2020 wildfires. Large parts of the country were devastated in days. Huge blazes burnt down bushes, woodlands and national parks. Thousands of firefighters are still combating the fires across Australia. Battling such massive fires was extremely dangerous. Several firefighters risked their lives while four rescuers and three crew members of an air tanker lost their lives.
How to become a firefighter :
A detailed step by step guideline on how to become a firefighter:
Step 1: Fitness – Ensure that you are fit enough to become a firefighter. Regardless of the expertise and practice, certain characteristics are essential to secure a position in the fire department. They include:
- Physical fitness
- Commitment to excellence
- Work skills (Communication, Teamwork, Problem-solving, Self-management)
- Dedication and Valour
Step 2: Requirements and Qualifications – There are a set of minimum requirements that all prospective firefighters must meet. The fundamental conditions are:
- All prospects must be over 18 years.
- They must possess a high school diploma and a valid driver’s license
- Applicants must have Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification.
- Applicants will be required to take and pass written tests, a psychological assessment, medical exam and physical strength and endurance test (CPAT – The candidate physical ability test), background investigation and drug testing.
Step 3: Education options – Although acquiring a graduation or post-graduation degree isn’t an absolute necessity, preference is given to applicants who possess one in fire science or a related subject. Some of the possible education options are:
- Vocational or trade school – These are the best individuals looking to kick start their careers in the fire department. Vocational schools provide basic knowledge and skills in a short amount of time.
- Community colleges – These are ideal for students who want a well-rounded liberal art degree, along with the basic knowledge to kick start their firefighting career.
- Military – Best for individuals interested in fulfilling the fidelity to serve their country with the career goal of becoming a firefighter in the long term.
- Four-year schools- These schools are ideal for those who are already firefighters or are interested in a firefighting career and want to fulfil the four-year college experience.
- Masters degree – Best for working professionals looking for an advanced degree to move their careers into administration and management.
Step 4: Become a trained EMT – Firefighters not only help with fires but respond to accident scenes and emergencies. Therefore, prospective candidates must have the EMT certification.
Step 5: Receive Firefighting training at a fire academy: The training provided depends on the department the candidate is looking for.
The academy teaches the following firefighting subjects and skills:
- Department organisation
- Fire chemistry
- Equipment use
- Fire control and suppression methods
- Firefighter safety
- Physical fitness
- Fire investigation
- Fire services culture and orientation
Step 6: Apply to firefighting departments – Certain ideas could improve the chances of being hired.
- Maintain the excellent physical shape
- Stay clean and out of trouble
- Visit and observe local fire stations
- Become a paramedic