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Firefighters are a symbol in a community of hope and protection. They are there whenever you need them for most happenings. To be a firefighter means you have to be fearless and show tremendous courage. I believe I have the great amount of courage that is required. Courage however is not the only characteristic required to be a firefighter. To be a firefighter you must also be selfless and have an enormous awareness of the community. I choose this job because I feel it most fits my personality and since I was a child wanted to become a firefighter. I intend to learn the requirements and amount of training that is needed to be a firefighter. I have talked to many firefighters that work for the Melbourne Fire Department and they basically told me that this job is not easy. It requires a strong mental balance and you must keep your cool in stressful situations while dealing with that fire around them. Also they explained to me that this job is not just a normal job. It has long and irregular hours that most cannot deal with. There is a benefit to those long hours though. If you accumulate enough hours and work more than your supposed to they are required to pay you overtime which can put extra cash in your pocket every pay check.
While exploring jobs I encountered many jobs that interested me. But one I seriously considered was being a teacher. I would inspire to become a math teacher. I am very skilled at math and have a “can do” attitude. The only reason I did not choose this job as a primary career was because it required too much schooling and it didn’t pay enough. In between my shifts I would like to be a substitiute teacher.
To have the requirements for applying to be a firefighter is not hard. Most have a high school degree, but you can go to a community college and get an associates degree in fire sciences and be over-qualified for the job, which increases your chance for employment. Some colleges even have 4-year degrees in fire engineering. As of lately, many of the new firefighters are going to those universities that offer such educational opportunities, to acquire those degrees, then applying for the job (BLS).
To officially become a firefighter is a long process. First your application must be chosen. If your application is chosen then you are required to go to a training facility for a couple weeks and be schooled about firefighting techniques, procedures, and codes. When at this training you will learn how to use equipment such as: axes, chain saws, fire extinguishers, ladders, and other fire fighting and rescue equipment. After attending the training and passing it, you will be placed on a probation period. Some fire departments have accredited apprenticeship programs that can endure up to 4 years. These programs merge strict instruction with on-the-job training while under the supervision of an experienced fire fighter. One thing all departments have in common is that in order to become a firefighter you must be a certified emergency medical technician. To become an EMT (emergency medical technician) you must apply to a training seminar. To apply you must have a high school degree. There is no need for further educational schooling to have your application selected. There are three levels of training; Basic, Intermediate, and EMT-Paramedic. Most departments accept the lowest level. If you are employed at a larger department, like in a big metropolitan area, they may require you to have a paramedic certificate along with the EMT training. This means you are to take the most advanced level of training. Some of the departments add the EMT training into their fire schooling, but others may allow an employee to do it on their own time and give them a year to do so. Many fire departments would like for their firefighters to go to the training sessions supported by the U.S. National Fire Academy (BLS). Departments either reimburse the employee for the training or give them a higher pay because of their advanced training.
Along with all of the certification involved, you must take a written exam, physical exam, and a medical exam. The physical exam tests you in: stamina, coordination, agility, and strength. The medical test consists of a drug screening and examination of body. Employees may be randomly drug tested at anytime during employment. Those who pass all the tests with the highest scores have the best chance of being hired (BLS).
The skills required to become a firefighter is a long and dreadful list. You must have these skills: mental alertness, self-discipline, courage, mechanical aptitude, endurance, strength, and decision making skills. Decision making is an important skill because you are constantly under a lot of pressure and in life and death situations. If you don’t make a decision quickly you could find your self dead or one of your co-workers trapped inside a burning building. I believe I have those qualities to become a firefighter. I have performed acts of those qualities in pressure situations when I was the head of a group of challenged individuals. A person who is suited for this job must have personality traits that benefit the department and not him. For example someone who is not a team player and has no teamwork can put himself or his team in danger if he does not communicate properly or adequately. Someone who has a good sense of teamwork, can lead his team through a burning building by properly communicating and having a sense of awareness about the surroundings. Also a firefighter must have respect because while he is on duty he is living with his crew and must respect their persons and their personalities. To be a firefighter means a lot in a community. It means you are the protector of all those whom live in the community. Teamwork is essential to any team that is functional and well-working. I can exhibit a great deal of teamwork while at work and in my community.
Being a firefighter is not a good way to”get rich quick.” Being a firefighter is more of a morally awarding job. The average earnings of a firefighter are $41,600 in local government, $41,070 in the Federal Government, and $37,000 in State governments (BLS). As you can see it is more promising if you work for a local government. You can earn more than your salary though by working overtime. They can earn overtime by working more shifts to cover minimum staff levels and working during special occasions such as natural disasters and national emergencies, i.e. September 11th. There are many levels of employment in a fire house: Fire chief, Deputy Chief, Assistant fire chief, Battalion chief, Fire prevention/code inspector, Fire captain, Fire lieutenant, and Engineer. They all make different levels of pay but the highest if the Fire chief. At the highest level of pay he can make at most $95,271. The minimum salary for a fire chief is $73,435. The base level in a fire house is an Engineer. The maximum base salary for an Engineer is $56,045. The minimum salary is $43,232 (BLS).
The benefits for a firefighter are very nice. They usually are given medical and liability insurance, vacation and sick leave, and paid holidays. In addition to these benefits, they don’t even have to pay for their equipment. The local, federal, or state governments pay for them. They are covered usually by pension plans that allow them to retire after 25 years and receive half pay. This also covers them if they are disabled while working. The reason they receive such good benefits is because the heath hazards involved in the job are limitless. They are constantly dealing with smoke which can cause asthma or lung cancer. The most common killer of firefighters is the heart attack. The risk of having a heart attack increases 100 times when a firefighter is battling a blaze. 32% of firefighter deaths by heart attacks happen while at a fire scene.
Being employed as a firefighter can be a difficult thing if you are looking to be employed by a federal or state government. About 90% of employments of firefighters were by local governments. This means that if you are looking to become a firefighter you should apply to become a firefighter in your local community. There is however competition. Volunteer firefighters are the trained firefighter’s enemy. They work for free and take the positions of a schooled firefighter. In the next ten years there is expected to be a 12% increase in firefighters (BLS). This means that competition isn’t slowing down anytime soon. In fact it is only getting stronger seeing that the newer, younger firefighters are becoming better schooled and getting degrees. Most of the increase will come from the conversion of volunteer firefighters to paid firefighters. The competition for this job will never go away due to that fact that the number of applications outweighs the number of positions available.
A typical day for a firefighter starts at 8 a.m. They then change into their uniform to relieve the on duty personnel. They check their gear before they do anything else. Once they have checked their gear thoroughly they then prep the fire truck and ready their gear in case of action. During the day they will respond to many calls. While on duty a firefighter must have one-hour of completed physical activity. Every house has gym equipment in it for that reason. They may be called to do other services such as: fire hydrant inspection, car seat installations, and planning for fires. A firefighters usual shift last about 24 hours. They do many odd jobs and respond to many emergency fires.
Through my research I have realized I am well suited for this job. I have learned that it take guts and a lot of courage to do this job. Also that it is not only just fires you deal with. You may deal with medical emergencies and hazardous spills. Being a firefighter is a tough job but I believe that I have the nerves to deal with such a stressful job. Not may people can do this job effectively. I believe I can.
I have concluded that firefighting would be a dream job of mine because one of my many passions is fire. I am obsessed with fire and its properties. It is very dangerous but being a firefighter would train me to become a certified professional fire handler. I would like to in the future experience the rush a firefighter gets when he/she gets a call and is on the go. It must be confusing feeling, focused yet nervous. In my future I am going to be a firefighter/substitute teacher.
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