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Firefighter  What They Do

Just the Facts


Controls and extinguishes municipal fires, protects life and property and conducts rescue efforts.

This career is part of the Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security cluster Emergency and Fire Management Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Searches burning buildings to locate fire victims.
  • Rescues victims from burning buildings, accident sites, and water hazards.
  • Administers first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation to injured persons.
  • Dresses with equipment such as fire-resistant clothing and breathing apparatus.
  • Assesses fires and situations and reports conditions to superiors to receive instructions, using two-way radios.
  • Moves toward the source of a fire, using knowledge of types of fires, construction design, building materials, and physical layout of properties.
  • Responds to fire alarms and other calls for assistance, such as automobile and industrial accidents.
  • Creates openings in buildings for ventilation or entrance, using axes, chisels, crowbars, electric saws, or core cutters.
  • Drives and operates fire fighting vehicles and equipment.
  • Takes action to contain hazardous chemicals that might catch fire, leak, or spill.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.



Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads of more than 50 lbs., sometimes more than 100 lbs. You must be used to very heavy physical exertion on a regular basis.
  • Work in this occupation involves bending or twisting your body more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Requires getting into awkward positions
  • Exposed to disease and infections more than once a month through work such as patient care, laboratory work, and sanitation control
  • Lighting is either extremely bright or inadequate
  • Conditions are very hot (above 90 F) or very cold (under 32 F)
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to conditions such as high voltage electricity, combustibles, explosives, and chemicals more than once a month
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of special protective items such as a breathing apparatus, safety harness, full protection suit, or radiation protection
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Work at heights above 8 feet more than once a month on structures such as ladders, poles, scaffolding, and catwalks

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Picking out a particular sound in the presence of other sounds
  • Maintaining a body position that prevents falling when in an unstable position
  • Identifying color and seeing differences in color, including shades and brightness
  • Moving the arms, legs and torso together when the whole body is in motion
  • Judging how far away an object is, or which of several objects is closer or farther away
  • Using muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring
  • Bending, stretching, twisting, or reaching
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing objects clearly in glaring conditions or bright lighting
  • Detecting sounds and hearing the differences between sounds of different pitch and loudness
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Exerting oneself physically over long periods of time without getting out of breath
  • Lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying objects
  • Using abdominal and lower back muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring

Work Hours and Travel

  • Irregular hours
  • Overtime work
  • Rotating shift work
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Apparatus Operator --
  • Fire Captain --
  • Fire Chief -- Directs activities of municipal fire department.
  • Fire Engineer --
  • Fire Equipment Operator --
  • Fire Fighter --
  • Fireman --
  • Safety Officer --
  • Volunteer Firefighter --