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Career Summary

Firefighter
During duty hours, fire fighters must be prepared to respond immediately to a fire or other emergency. Fighting fires is complex and dangerous and requires organization and teamwork. At every emergency scene, fire fighters perform specific duties assigned by a superior officer. At fires, they connect hose lines to hydrants and operate a pump to send water to high-pressure hoses. Some carry hoses, climb ladders, and enter burning buildings—using systematic and careful procedures—to put out fires. At times, they may need to use tools to make their way through doors, walls, and debris, sometimes with the aid of information about a building's floor plan. Some find and rescue occupants who are unable to leave the building safely without assistance. They also provide emergency medical attention, ventilate smoke-filled areas and attempt to salvage the contents of buildings. They also work in a variety of settings, including metropolitan areas, rural areas, airports, chemical plants and other industrial sites. They also have assumed a range of responsibilities, including providing emergency medical services. In fact, most calls to which fire fighters respond involve medical emergencies. In addition, some fire fighters work in hazardous materials units that are specially trained for the control, prevention, and cleanup of hazardous materials, such as oil spills or accidents involving the transport of chemicals. When they aren't responding to fires and other emergencies, fire fighters clean and maintain equipment, learn additional skills related to their jobs, conduct practice drills, and participate in physical fitness activities. They also prepare written reports on fire incidents and review fire science literature to stay informed.
Work environment. Fire fighters spend much of their time at fire stations, which are usually similar to dormitories. When an alarm sounds, fire fighters respond, regardless of the weather or hour. Fire fighting involves a high risk of death or injury. Common causes include floors caving in, walls toppling, traffic accidents, and exposure to flame and smoke. Fire fighters also may come into contact with poisonous, flammable, or explosive gases and chemicals and radioactive materials, all of which may have immediate or long-term effects on their health. For these reasons, they must wear protective gear that can be very heavy and hot


Position

Minimum salary

Maximum salary

Fire chief

$78,672

$104,780

Deputy chief

69,166

88,571

Battalion chief

66,851

81,710

Assistant fire chief

65,691

83,748

Fire captain

60,605

72,716

Fire lieutenant

50,464

60,772

Engineer

48,307

62,265

This information is provided by bls.gov and Occupational Outlook Handbook.

 

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