What is a Firefighter?

A firefighter is trained to combat and extinguish fires, as well as to respond to various emergency situations. Firefighters are typically employed by local or state government organizations, although some are also employed by private companies or organizations. In addition to fighting fires, firefighters are often involved in performing rescue operations, responding to hazardous material incidents, providing medical assistance, and educating the public on fire safety.

To become a firefighter, individuals typically undergo extensive training, which includes physical conditioning, fire suppression techniques, first aid, and hazardous materials handling. The work of a firefighter can be physically demanding and often involves working long hours, often in hazardous and high-pressure situations. Firefighters must be quick-thinking and able to work well under stress, as they are often required to make split-second decisions that can have a significant impact on the safety of those around them. While the work of a firefighter can be challenging, it is also rewarding, as it provides an opportunity to serve the community and make a positive impact on people's lives.

What does a Firefighter do?

A firefighter fighting a raging fire.

Firefighters play an important role in protecting people and property from the dangers of fire and other emergencies. They are the first responders to fires, accidents, and other dangerous situations, and they must be ready to act quickly and effectively to prevent further harm. Firefighters put themselves in harm's way to save others, and their bravery and dedication to their communities are unparalleled.

Duties and Responsibilities
Firefighters have a wide range of duties and responsibilities that they must fulfill to protect lives and property. Here are some of the key duties and responsibilities of a firefighter:

  • Responding to Emergencies: Firefighters are the first responders to fires and other emergencies, and they must be ready to respond quickly and effectively to any situation. They must be able to assess the situation, determine the best course of action, and communicate with other emergency personnel to ensure that everyone is working together to address the emergency.
  • Fire Suppression: Firefighters are responsible for extinguishing fires and preventing their spread. They use a range of tools and techniques, such as hoses, extinguishers, and ventilation, to control and extinguish fires. They must also be able to navigate through smoke-filled buildings and rescue people who may be trapped inside.
  • Rescue Operations: Firefighters are often called upon to perform rescue operations, such as extracting people from burning buildings, vehicles, or other dangerous situations. They must be able to quickly and safely assess the situation and take the appropriate action to rescue those in danger.
  • Hazardous Materials Handling: Firefighters must be trained in handling hazardous materials, such as chemicals or biological agents, that may be present in emergency situations. They use protective gear and special equipment to safely manage and contain these materials.
  • Medical Assistance: Firefighters are often the first responders to medical emergencies, such as heart attacks, strokes, or accidents. They provide basic medical care and assistance until paramedics or other medical personnel arrive.
  • Public Education: Firefighters are also responsible for educating the public on fire safety and prevention. They may conduct public workshops or visit schools to teach people about fire safety, evacuation procedures, and other important topics.
  • Equipment Maintenance: Firefighters are responsible for maintaining and testing firefighting equipment, such as hoses, pumps, and other tools. They must ensure that equipment is in good working order and ready to use in case of an emergency.

Types of Firefighters
There are several types of firefighters, each with its own unique role and responsibilities. Here are some of the most common types of firefighters:

  • Municipal Firefighters: Municipal firefighters are the most common type of firefighters, and they work for local or state government organizations. They are responsible for responding to fires, accidents, and other emergencies within their designated jurisdiction.
  • Wildland Firefighters: Wildland firefighters are specially trained to fight fires that occur in rural or wilderness areas, such as forests or grasslands. They may work for government agencies, such as the U.S. Forest Service, or for private companies.
  • Airport Firefighters: Airport firefighters are responsible for responding to fires and other emergencies that occur at airports. They are trained in handling aircraft fires and must be able to respond quickly to minimize damage and prevent injury or loss of life.
  • Industrial Firefighters: Industrial firefighters work in industrial settings, such as chemical plants or oil refineries, where the risk of fire and other emergencies is high. They are trained in handling hazardous materials and must be able to respond quickly to contain and extinguish fires.
  • Military Firefighters: Military firefighters are members of the military who are trained to respond to fires and other emergencies on military bases or in combat zones. They must be able to work in high-stress situations and may be required to operate in dangerous conditions.

Are you suited to be a firefighter?

Firefighters have distinct personalities. They tend to be realistic individuals, which means they’re independent, stable, persistent, genuine, practical, and thrifty. They like tasks that are tactile, physical, athletic, or mechanical. Some of them are also social, meaning they’re kind, generous, cooperative, patient, caring, helpful, empathetic, tactful, and friendly.

Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if firefighter is one of your top career matches.

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What is the workplace of a Firefighter like?

The workplace of a firefighter can vary depending on the type of firefighting they do. Municipal firefighters typically work at fire stations, which are located throughout their designated jurisdiction. Fire stations are equipped with everything firefighters need to respond to emergencies, including trucks, equipment, and living quarters. Firefighters work in shifts, which can range from 24 to 48 hours on duty, followed by several days off.

When firefighters are on duty, they are responsible for maintaining their equipment, keeping the fire station clean and organized, and responding to emergency calls. Firefighters must be ready to respond at a moment's notice and must be able to quickly and efficiently prepare for emergency situations.

Wildland firefighters, on the other hand, often work in remote or wilderness areas, where they may camp out for days or weeks at a time. They work long hours, often in difficult terrain and adverse weather conditions. They are responsible for setting up fire lines, cutting down trees, and using other techniques to control and extinguish wildfires.

Airport firefighters typically work at airports, where they are stationed in firehouses near the runways. They work in shifts and must be able to respond quickly to aircraft fires or other emergencies. They are trained to operate specialized equipment, such as foam trucks and rescue vehicles, and must be able to work effectively in the high-pressure environment of an airport.

Overall, the workplace of a firefighter can be demanding, but also rewarding. Firefighters work in a team environment and must be able to rely on each other to respond to emergencies and protect the public. They must be physically fit, mentally strong, and able to work well under pressure. Firefighting is a challenging but fulfilling career that requires dedication, skill, and a strong commitment to public service.

Frequently Asked Questions

Pros and cons of being a Firefighter

Being a firefighter is a rewarding and challenging career that offers the opportunity to make a positive difference in people's lives. However, like any job, there are both pros and cons to consider before pursuing this career path.


  • Job security: Firefighters enjoy a high degree of job security, as fires and other emergencies will always occur and fire departments will always need trained personnel to respond to them.
  • Competitive salary and benefits: Firefighters are typically well-compensated for their work, with good salaries, retirement plans, health insurance, and other benefits.
  • Opportunity for advancement: Many fire departments offer opportunities for advancement, such as promotions to higher ranks or positions in specialized areas like arson investigation or hazardous materials response.
  • Strong sense of camaraderie: Firefighters work closely together as a team, which fosters a strong sense of camaraderie and mutual support.
  • Meaningful work: Firefighters have the opportunity to make a real difference in people's lives by responding to emergencies, saving lives, and protecting property.


  • Physically demanding: Firefighting is a physically demanding job that requires firefighters to be in good physical condition and able to work in challenging and hazardous environments.
  • High stress: Firefighters face high levels of stress, as they are often called upon to respond to life-threatening emergencies and must make split-second decisions under pressure.
  • Exposure to dangerous situations: Firefighters are exposed to a wide range of dangerous situations, including fires, hazardous materials, and structural collapses, which can put their own lives at risk.
  • Long hours and irregular schedules: Firefighters often work long hours, including overnight shifts and weekends, which can be challenging for maintaining a work-life balance.
  • Emotional toll: Firefighters may experience emotional trauma from the events they witness and the lives they are unable to save.

Overall, being a firefighter is a challenging and rewarding career that requires dedication, physical fitness, and a strong commitment to public service. While there are certainly challenges and risks involved, many firefighters find the rewards of the job to be well worth it, as they have the opportunity to make a real difference in their communities and in the lives of those they serve.

Firefighters are also known as:
Fireman Fire Fighter