Career Detail

Fire Fighters
“Blaze Killers”
Help protect the public against dangers by responding to fires and a variety of other emergencies.
The Job
During duty hours, fire fighters must be prepared to respond immediately to a fire or other emergencies. 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. They also provide emergency medical attention, ventilate smoke-filled areas, and attempt to salvage the contents of buildings. In addition to putting out fires, they are frequently the first emergency personnel at the scene of a traffic accident or medical emergency and may be called upon to treat injuries. Many fire fighters work more than 50 hours a week.
Work Environment
spend much of their time at fire stations, which are usually similar to dormitories. Fire fighters also may come into contact with poisonous, flammable, or explosive gases and chemicals.
College Majors
Fire Science
Minimum Qualifications
Applicants are usually required to have at least a high school diploma, however, the completion of community college courses, or in some cases, an associate degree, in fire science may improve an applicant's chances for a job. Most must pass a written exam; tests for strength and physical stamina.
Personality traits helpful for this career
Mental alertness, self-discipline, courage, mechanical aptitude, endurance, strength, and a sense of public service.
Quick Facts
  • Applicants for city fire fighting jobs generally must pass written, physical, and medical examinations.
  • Keen competition for jobs is expected because this occupation attracts many qualified candidates.
  • For more info: U.S. Fire Administration, 16825 South Seton Ave., Emmitsburg, MD 21727.
Compensation and Outlook
Median annual wages of fire fighters were $44,260 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $31,180 and $58,440. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,440, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $72,210. Median annual wages were $44,800 in local government, $45,610 in the Federal Government, $25,300 in other support services, and $37,870 in State governments.
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