Firefighter jobs: What new firefighters need to know

It is the responsibility of the fire departments and the new members to keep the fire service going in the right direction


By Todd Jennings
Taylors Fire Department

We have talked about what the new firefighter needs to know from a department's standpoint, but what does he or she need to know about the job? There are several things that the member needs to know to perform the job to the max. Let's take a closer look at just a few.

  1. Firefighting Knowledge. This is a big one. The fire service hires new firefighters with little to no training, no experience, and even no knowledge of the fire service. This is a problem, but we will leave this for another article.

    So what does the new member need to know about firefighting? I believe that this can be broken down into a few categories.

    The first would be basic book knowledge. This will cover building construction, fire behavior, PPE, SCBA (is a must), fire service history, and firefighter safety skills. I consider this the basic classroom stuff.

    The next category would be hands-on training. These are the most productive and important skills that all firefighters need to comprehend. This will cover the following: hoses, ladders, tools, search and rescue, fire attack, ventilation, auto extrication, and any other skills per your department's structure. These skills can't be learned in the classroom environment, they are best learned out in the field.

    The last category would be advanced skills. This will include RIT, large area search, rescue skills, HAZMAT, advanced auto extrication, and several other advanced tasks. This is not all that needs to be mastered by the new firefighter, just some of the general tasks. The job of a firefighter is a never-ending learning experience.
  2. Firefighter's Will and Drive. This is a big one in today's fire service. Years ago, people wanted to be firefighters for the love of the job. This could be just the drive to help people, or the will to fix problems that people in the community were facing.

    But in today's fire service you have a vast majority of the new members that have the hero syndrome. This is becoming a major problem.

    New firefighters need to realize that if you have hero syndrome, then you are in the service for the wrong reason. It is the job of the older generation to help fix this problem. We have to get the newer generation to realize why the fire service is a vital part of the nation.

    Please don't get me wrong, there are plenty of firefighters that are in the job for the right reason. It is just the ones that are not that give the public a bad impression of the fire service. And we all know that the first impression is the only impression.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for the view from the firefighters seat that needs to be addressed. It is the responsibility of the fire departments and the new members to keep the fire service going in the right direction. Most of us love the job and would not do anything else, so let's keep it that way for the generations to come.

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