Almost everyone wants to be a firefighter at some point in their lives, but it takes more than access to a pole and a dalmatian to get the job. Most firefighters are volunteers; in New Hampshire, for example, only 20 percent of working firefighters are career firefighters. Because there are so few permanent positions open, competition can be fierce. If you are hoping to become a career firefighter, it’s important to be sure that you have covered the curriculum requirements necessary for the job.
Fire Department Operations
A course in fire department operations is the basic building block of coursework for a firefighter. This class begins instruction into the handling of an emergency situation. You will learn how to identify different kinds of fire and how they affect various styles of building architecture. The class will cover the uses of firefighting tools and how the members of a firefighting team work together from an administrative standpoint.
Fire Behavior and Combustion
Fire behavior and combustion builds off of the introductory lessons about fire behavior gained in the fire department operations course. Students learn about the science behind fire: what materials are involved, how different chemicals burn, and what fire suppression technique will work best in each situation.
Certified First Responder Training
In some areas, such as New York City, firefighters are required to take coursework to become certified as a first responder. Because firefighters are often the first emergency personnel on the scene of an accident, it’s imperative that they have training in first aid and injury stabilization.
Emergency Medical Technician Training
Training as an emergency medical technician is essentially an expansion of skills gained through first responder training. In addition to basic first aid, emergency medical technician training will teach you how to assess trauma, perform CPR, manage blood loss, and place splints, tourniquets and bandages. More advanced classes continue instruction on placing an IV, reading an EKG, intubation and advanced defibrillation.
Confined Space Rescue Training
A course in maneuvering through confined spaces is recommended, particularly for California firefighters. Classwork includes hands-on training in difficult situations; students will be able to recognize confined spaces and permit-required confined spaces. The course guides students through their responsibilities during a rescue operation. The end goal is for students to be able to identify and properly handle hazards specific to confined spaces. Students also learn about the necessary state and federal regulations regarding these spaces.
Suzy Kerr graduated from Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Georgia. She completed her Master's degree in Nutrition Sciences, also at the University of Georgia. Suzy has been a successful health, fitness and nutrition writer for more than 10 years, and has been published in various print and online publications.