Firefighter Career

Job Description: Control and extinguish fires or respond to emergency situations where life, property, or the environment is at risk. Duties may include fire prevention, emergency medical service, hazardous material response, search and rescue, and disaster assistance.


Is Firefighter the right career path for you?
Take the MyMajors Quiz and find out if it fits one of your top recommended majors!

Firefighter Career

What Firefighters do:

  • Clean and maintain fire stations and fire fighting equipment and apparatus.
  • Extinguish flames and embers to suppress fires, using shovels or engine- or hand-driven water or chemical pumps.
  • Respond to fire alarms and other calls for assistance, such as automobile and industrial accidents.
  • Participate in fire drills and demonstrations of fire fighting techniques.
  • Assess fires and situations and report conditions to superiors to receive instructions, using two-way radios.
  • Drive and operate fire fighting vehicles and equipment.
  • Dress with equipment such as fire-resistant clothing and breathing apparatus.
  • Inform and educate the public on fire prevention.
  • Move toward the source of a fire, using knowledge of types of fires, construction design, building materials, and physical layout of properties.
  • Inspect fire sites after flames have been extinguished to ensure that there is no further danger.
  • Create openings in buildings for ventilation or entrance, using axes, chisels, crowbars, electric saws, or core cutters.
  • Position and climb ladders to gain access to upper levels of buildings, or to rescue individuals from burning structures.
  • Salvage property by removing broken glass, pumping out water, and ventilating buildings to remove smoke.
  • Rescue victims from burning buildings, accident sites, and water hazards.
  • Select and attach hose nozzles, depending on fire type, and direct streams of water or chemicals onto fires.
  • Participate in physical training activities to maintain a high level of physical fitness.
  • Protect property from water and smoke, using waterproof salvage covers, smoke ejectors, and deodorants.
  • Collaborate with other firefighters as a member of a firefighting crew.
  • Collaborate with police to respond to accidents, disasters, and arson investigation calls.
  • Maintain knowledge of current firefighting practices by participating in drills and by attending seminars, conventions, and conferences.
  • Patrol burned areas after fires to locate and eliminate hot spots that may restart fires.
  • Inspect buildings for fire hazards and compliance with fire prevention ordinances, testing and checking smoke alarms and fire suppression equipment as necessary.
  • Maintain contact with fire dispatchers at all times to notify them of the need for additional firefighters and supplies, or to detail any difficulties encountered.
  • Prepare written reports that detail specifics of fire incidents.
  • Take action to contain any hazardous chemicals that could catch fire, leak, or spill.
  • Orient self in relation to fire, using compass and map, and collect supplies and equipment dropped by parachute.

What work activities are most important?

Importance Activities

Assisting and Caring for Others - Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.

Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment - Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.

Performing General Physical Activities - Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.

Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings - Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.

Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material - Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.

Making Decisions and Solving Problems - Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

Handling and Moving Objects - Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.

Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events - Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates - Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

Getting Information - Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.

Performing for or Working Directly with the Public - Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.

Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge - Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.

Documenting/Recording Information - Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.

Controlling Machines and Processes - Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).

Training and Teaching Others - Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.

Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships - Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.

Communicating with Persons Outside Organization - Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.

Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People - Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.

Processing Information - Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.

Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment - Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of mechanical (not electronic) principles.

Coaching and Developing Others - Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.

Developing and Building Teams - Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.

Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information - Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.

Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others - Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.

Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work - Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.

Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards - Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.

Developing Objectives and Strategies - Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.

Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others - Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.

Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others - Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.

Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates - Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.

Analyzing Data or Information - Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.

Provide Consultation and Advice to Others - Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.

Scheduling Work and Activities - Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.

Thinking Creatively - Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.

Interacting With Computers - Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.

Monitoring and Controlling Resources - Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.

Performing Administrative Activities - Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.

Repairing and Maintaining Electronic Equipment - Servicing, repairing, calibrating, regulating, fine-tuning, or testing machines, devices, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of electrical or electronic (not mechanical) principles.

Selling or Influencing Others - Convincing others to buy merchandise/goods or to otherwise change their minds or actions.

Staffing Organizational Units - Recruiting, interviewing, selecting, hiring, and promoting employees in an organization.

Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment - Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.

Holland Code Chart for a Firefighter