About the Profession
The employment outlook in this profession is good. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 9 percent job growth through 2018 for fire inspectors and investigators and 17 percent job growth for firefighters and their front-line supervisors.
Fire fighting has a rich history that dates to at least ancient Egypt with the invention of a basic hand pump that could squirt a jet of water. The idea was lost until the fire pump was reinvented about 1500. In between, fire brigades responded to and fought fires, passing water-filled buckets and maintaining order.
Volunteers staffed many early fire departments, and the philosophy was “surround and drown” a blazing fire. But late in the 20th Century, the idea began to give way to a professional, educated and trained force. Today, fire departments combine modern equipment with evolving science.
The role of firefighter has expanded, too. In many departments, firefighters also must be paramedics or EMTs or be enrolled in training program that leads to such certification. Firefighters still respond to fires involving houses, businesses, chemical plants and forests and they must understand building construction, collapse, fire behavior and fire fighting techniques.
Modern firefighters also are trained to handle many emergency situations. Firefighters need good judgment and must adapt to crises of all kinds, using whatever skill the situation demands.
Firefighters clean and maintain equipment, learn additional skills, conduct practice drills, and take part in fitness training. Like most jobs, firefighters have paperwork, and they prepare written reports on fire incidents and keep up-to-date with new developments in the profession.
Some firefighters specialize in fire prevention and education, often working with young people in schools and community centers. Training in Fire Science Technology puts students on track to become valuable members of fire departments, supervisors, inspectors or investigators.
Opportunities for advancement are good. The path goes from firefighter to engineer, then lieutenant, captain, battalion chief, assistant chief, deputy chief and chief. For jobs higher than battalion chief, many fire departments now require a bachelor's degree. Fire officer certification from the National Fire Academy requires an associate’s degree.
Want To Know More?
Check out these links for Respiratory Care career information, employment outlook and industry trends.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Firefighters
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Fire inspectors and investigators
- O*NET OnLine
- Career One Stop
- Career One Stop – Fire inspectors and investigators
- Future Farmers of America – Forest Ranger
- American Medical Association
Learn more about firefighting.
- Firefighting history — http://www.firefightercentral.com/firefighter_history.htm
- Firefighting history — http://www.afirepro.com/history.html
- Firefighter Nation – a professional network http://www.firefighternation.com/
- Links to Tennessee fire departments — http://www.firefightercentral.com/links/tennessee.htm
- U.S. Fire Administration — http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/nfa/
- Federal Emergency Management Agency — http://www.fema.gov/
- Fire Facts — Centers for Disease Control
- Fire Facts — U.S. Fire Administration
- Fire Facts —Fire Manufacturers’ Equipment Association
- The Weather Channel —Wind and Wildfires
- Interview with a firefighter