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Firefighter: Job description

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Firefighters respond to emergency situations and primarily protect people, the environment and property from all types of accident and emergencies. They work closely with the local community to increase their level of fire safety awareness in order to help prevent fires and accidents occurring in the first place.

Firefighters promote fire safety and enforce fire safety standards in public and commercial premises by acting and advising on all matters relating to the protection of life and property from fire and other risks. Lectures, exercises, practice drills and other forms of training are an integral and ongoing part of the job.

Typical work activities

Tasks include:

  • responding immediately and safely to emergency calls and requests for assistance;
  • attending emergency incidents including fires, road accidents, floods, bomb incidents, spillages of dangerous substances, and rail and air crashes;
  • rescuing trapped people and animals;
  • minimising distress and suffering, including giving first aid before ambulance crews arrive;safeguarding their own and other people's personal safety at all times;
  • responding quickly to unforeseen circumstances as they arise;
  • cleaning up and checking the site after dealing with an incident;
  • taking time to become familiar with local streets, roads and buildings around their own and nearby fire stations in order to respond to emergency calls with the utmost speed and efficiency;
  • inspecting and maintaining the appliance (fire engine) and its equipment, assisting in the testing of fire hydrants and checking emergency water supplies;
  • undertaking drills and physical training and taking part in training on techniques, use of equipment and related matters; maintaining the level of physical fitness necessary to carry out all the duties of a firefighter;
  • maintaining links with the local community and educating and informing the public to help promote fire safety, e.g. giving talks in schools and to local organisations, and home visits to offer advice.

Managers within the service perform additional supervisory activities which include managing operational incidents and also directing the day-to-day tasks of personnel on fire stations. Tasks typically include:

  • assessing situations quickly and deciding on the best course of action;
  • directing the crew;
  • writing full incident reports;
  • fire investigation;
  • budget administration and control;
  • allocation of personal and resources to achieve performance targets;
  • negotiating with representative bodies;
  • dealing with external agencies;
  • planning and resource management;
  • dealing with political aspects of the Authority.

The operational aspects of firefighting, albeit important, are a minor part of the job of a senior manager in a large service.

Written by AGCAS editors
August 2012

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