Historically, fire fighters simply threw as much water as they could on a blaze, using horse-drawn carts or even buckets. The job is much broader today. Fire fighters are also trained as EMTs or paramedics; in many communities, they are the first responders to any emergency.
Many departments require fire fighters to be licensed EMTs before they are hired or earn paramedic credentials within a deadline after they start working. Some departments have residency requirements and demand that firefighters live within a specified distance of the job.
Fire fighting is a demanding job – physically, mentally and emotionally. It requires teamwork, communication and organization. Hours are long and irregular.
Long spells can pass without a fire or other emergency but when something happens, fire fighters must be ready. At the scene, some may connect the hoses while others search a burning building. Fire fighters provide emergency medical treatment, read floor plans, ventilate buildings and salvage property. They rescue trapped people and animals, and in major disasters, often remain at the scene for days at time.