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Fire Fighter

William Pierce

Tell us about your work-what do you do? Professional Fire fighter What skills are needed? First and foremost I believe you need people skills ...you need to know how to communicate with others, whether it be the public or your fellow fire fighters. What was your major? N/A How did you get started in your career? To be able to start fire fighting, you need to attend and pass a State Certified Basic Recruit Class for Fire fighters. This is a two-part test that involves a written exam as well as a practical exam in which you'll be tested on several physical applications. It is approximately 400 hours long. Most departments also require you to have EMT or Paramedic Standards before applying. I went to Minimum Standards class at a junior college. What experience do you need in this job? I believe you just need a desire to be a Fire fighter/EMT/Paramedic. It is a tough and rewarding job. The mental aspect of the job can be stressful at times. Describe your "typical " workday: My shift begins at 08:00am. The first thing I do is check with the off-going shift to see what, if any, problems they might have encountered during the previous day. After that, my primary job in the morning hours is to do a maintenance check of all of the Fire Engines and on all of the various equipment that is located on each Engine. We do this to ensure that each piece of equipment is in proper working order for that day. After the Engines and equipment have been fully checked, different individuals will branch off to do their own jobs for that day. As for me, I'm an Engineer on my shift. I'll check with the local law enforcement agencies to see if any roads have been closed or will be closed during the day. Next, I'll check with Forestry to see where, if any, burn permits have been issued for that day. I'm also responsible for any paperwork that may need to be filled out in reference to the maintenance that was performed that day. During the course of the day, we will hold some type of formal training in the area of fire fighting. Depending on what are will be covered that day, I may have to teach a 3-hour class pertaining to that subject. After all daily work and training has been completed, you just sit back and wait for an alarm. What is the hardest aspect of your job? The mental part is the hardest. When you work a 9-5 job, you know that all of your work will take place in those hours and when you go home at the end of your day...you go home. Since we stay at the firehouse 24 hours a day and we can never predict when a fire will happen, you have to be ready for anything at anytime of the day or night. Some of the calls we go on are vehicle fires, structure fires, extrications, medical assists, fire alarms, rescue calls involving animals or people trapped in things other than vehicles. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? Obviously, saving a person's life is the most rewarding. After that, saving a person's property is rewarding. It's also a lot of fun to see a small child's eyes light up when they come to the fire house and take a tour of the station or see the different fire trucks in action as we demonstrate them for the kids. What are your suggestions for someone considering this field? I would suggest that someone interested in becoming a fire fighter go by their local fire house and talk with the people there and possibly become a volunteer for that department or maybe get involved in the explorer program. As for schooling, I would suggest a dual major of Fire Science/Management followed by a Masters Degree in Public Administration .