Firefighter Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Firefighter is responsible for using their physical stamina and compassionate nature to combat fires and other hazardous situations while ensuring the safety of others. Their duties include using equipment to extinguish fires, rescuing members of the public from dangerous conditions and providing cleanup services to law enforcement at the scene of a car accident or natural disaster.

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Firefighter duties and responsibilities

The most important duties and responsibilities of a Firefighter position are being able to put out fires, helping the injured and keeping people safe in emergency situations. The most important duties and responsibilities you’ll want to include in a job description are:

  • Preventing, combating and extinguishing fires with the goal of protecting lives, the environment and property
  • Operating tools and equipment used for firefighting safely and effectively
  • Providing appropriate medical care within their scope of knowledge in emergency situations
  • Analyzing hazardous situations and thinking of quick solutions and actions
  • Teaching and participating in training classes and drills
  • Performing general maintenance on firefighting equipment
  • Maintaining a clean environment in the department facilities
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What does a Firefighter do?

Firefighters typically work for fire stations or firehouses to provide timely responses to emergencies. They work with firefighters and other emergency personnel to bring emergencies under control and restore order. Their job is to respond to potential gas leaks, contain and extinguish building or brush fires, offer first aid services to members of the public and remove debris from the roadway. They may also need to repair their vehicles and equipment during quiet moments of the day.

Firefighter skills and qualifications

Firefighting can be a high-stress job, so applicants need to have extensive skills and qualifications in order to do the job correctly and handle hazardous situations safely. Here are the most important skills and qualifications relevant to being a Firefighter:

  • The physical demands of firefighting are significant. The equipment is very heavy, and immense strength is necessary for getting through certain obstacles during firefighting and carrying individuals out of danger.
  • It’s common for Firefighters to be on call for 24 hours then off for two or three days. With a 24-hour shift, Firefighters need to have extensive stamina that allows them to address dangerous situations effectively on a moment’s notice at any time.
  • Firefighting is a team effort, so firefighters need to be able to communicate with each other and victims effectively. Applicants must excel at both conveying ideas and listening to instructions.
  • Firefighters have to operate an extensive amount of equipment during the job, so any applicant must have technical expertise in all the tools at their disposal including hoses, breaching tools and the fire truck itself.

Firefighter salary expectations

A Firefighter makes an average of $45,454 per year. Salary may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location. 

Firefighter education and training requirements

At the minimum level, a high school diploma or GED is required to become a Firefighter. Some job descriptions also include an associate degree in fire science as a preferred qualification. There are also course programs at vocational colleges that are conducted in conjunction with local fire departments creating qualified candidates. EMT certification is also a requirement to ensure Firefighters have the proper medical training in addition to passing the fire academy training.

Firefighter experience requirements

Most Firefighter positions prefer some experience for their applicants, but extensive on-the-job training is offered with the fire academy. Of course, an applicant who is already a Career Firefighter can get through that much faster and potentially skip it altogether as long as they remain in compliance with local requirements.

Job Description samples for similar positions

If you’re recruiting for positions related to the Firefighter, see our job descriptions for similar roles:

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Frequently asked questions about Firefighters

 

What is the difference between a Firefighter and a Paramedic?

The difference between a Firefighter and a Paramedic is that Firefighters specialize in containing fires and performing rescues. They can also perform basic procedures like CPR and wound dressing if necessary. In contrast, Paramedics specialize in advanced onsite medical aid that helps stabilize patients and gives them the best chance at recovery once they arrive at the hospital. Therefore, the main difference between Firefighters and Paramedics is the degree of medical care they can provide to their patients in emergencies.

 

What makes a good Firefighter?

A good Firefighter is someone who is physically fit and exercises regularly. Physical stamina is essential to Firefighters as the need to maneuver in heavy gear, handle cumbersome equipment and help people get to safety. They also remain calm under pressure in response to emergencies. This trait enables them to get to an emergency safely and carry out operations in a way that promotes the safety of others and themselves. 

A good Firefighter is also someone who practices fire safety measures in their personal life and strives to educate others about the importance of fire safety.

 

What are the daily duties of a Firefighter?

On a typical day, a Firefighter starts by interacting with others on their shift. They help prepare meals and complete chores within the firehouse. At the sound of the alarm, they stop what they’re doing, put their equipment on and head to the scene in a company fire truck. Once they arrive at the site, they survey the area and make sure no one is hurt. They put out fires by connecting fire hydrants to fire pumps to maintain a steady stream of water. 

Throughout their shift, they remain on-call to respond to fires and other emergencies. After they return to the firehouse, they talk with other Firefighters to determine what went well and what to improve.

 

Who does a Firefighter report to?

A Firefighter usually reports to the Lieutenant on shift. Lieutenants have years of experience working for emergency services and provide leadership at a fire station. At the site of emergencies, Firefighters carry out tasks based on the Lieutenant’s orders and get advice about how to handle the situation.

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