Firefighter Paper sample essay

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Firefighter Paper sample essay

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In this cynical age, firefighting remains a heroic and noble profession. The images of fire professionals we see on television and in film are often romanticized versions of day-to-day life on the job. What is the life of a firefighter really like?

The Job

According to a 1993 survey, annual starting salaries for firefighters in major cities fall in the range of $28,000 to $46,000 with overtime pay. Firefighters receive health, disability and retirement benefits, and many consider the work schedule beneficial as well (rotating 24-hour shifts). No two days are alike, and the work is as varied as it is unpredictable.

Responding to Calls

Gender and Race in the Urban Fire Service reveals what it’s like to enter a burning building. “…those entering a building are often confronted with such intense heat and heavy smoke that it is impossible for them to walk upright or to make out their surroundings. They wear face masks and air tanks to allow them to breathe, but the tanks are heavy, the time limited and the breathing process awkward. The location is almost always completely unfamiliar, filled with obstacles and unknown hazards.

While the engine crew works on the ground with water to put the fire out, a truck crew ventilates the building, opening a sufficiently large hole in the roof to allow heat, smoke and gasses to escape so that the ground crew can do its work. Roof work is not only dangerous, but generally requires a high level of strength, skill and coordination. If there are possible victims, either crew may become involved in search and rescue (or body recovery), which means working one’s way through this foreign environment in darkness and heat, unsure what you may find, taking care not to become trapped or disoriented.”

In many municipal fire departments, an increasing emphasis is placed on emergency medical services (EMS). Currently at the Oakland Fire Department, 80 percent of calls are EMS calls. In many cases a fire crew is nearer to an emergency than an ambulance or paramedic unit. Most new firefighters are also trained as emergency medical technicians, and candidates with previous paramedic experience are desirable.

Not all of a firefighter’s workday is spent responding to calls, however, and not all calls require significant activity. Many times calls involve false alarms or situations where no emergency exists. Firefighters spend a high proportion of their time taking care of nonemergency calls, including activities such as fire inspections, practice drills, physical training, housekeeping and maintenance chores – station maintenance as well as shopping and cooking.

Unless you’re a firefighter, no one can really understand what we do. We have a special relationship. We have to live for 24 hours together. It’s not like an eight-hour day where you can put on a fake thing for eight hours and then you go home. Here, this is our home.

Firehouse as Home

In most urban departments, firefighters work 24-hour shifts. The schedule involves a rotation of three shifts, so that two of every three days are free. Since firefighters literally live together for 24 hours, the firehouse becomes a combination of work and home, and coworkers constitute a sort of second family. Firefighters often spend more time with crew members than with their own families.

The station is fashioned like home, placed in a work setting. There are officer’s quarters, a dormitory-type sleeping area, a communal bathroom with showers and toilets, a big kitchen and a lounge or TV room. In most stations, meals are eaten at a large table in the kitchen. Outdoor areas may also include a barbecue, a patio or a deck. Firefighters share personal living space and eat meals together while on duty. To make things work, crewmembers must be trustworthy and participate in household chores. “a good firefighter is someone who can perform not only on the fireground or at a medical emergency, but also as a good roommate or family member.”


Although the life of a firefighter may seem exciting and glamorous, it has many challenges. Camaraderie and strong bonds between coworkers, along with respect from grateful members of the community is extremely rewarding. However, firefighting is a physically demanding and dangerous occupation.

Meeting such hazards requires certain kinds of personal and social qualities, the physical capacity to do the work, the stamina to continue strenuous activity for hours with little rest. But the work requires firefighters to ‘think on their feet,’ rapidly assess the problem at hand, plan a course of action and then quickly react when conditions change. Throughout an emergency, a firefighter must maintain a constant and heightened awareness, never losing sight of the broader picture while attending to a specific task.”

Other challenges include a work schedule that requires nights and weekends away from home, sleep deprivation due to work schedule and anxiety and a high level of stress due to exposure to trauma and tragedy.

Adventure, challenge, variety, teamwork, service, skill and satisfaction are all aspects of a firefighter’s life. Most firefighters claim that it’s the best job in the world.


P.S. It is the best and most rewarding job I think anyone could have. All you need is a little heart and drive to be in shape and willingness to learn the ropes of fire fighting and you would do fine.

Start applying at different locations and stay out of trouble with drugs and alcohol and you won’t have a problem. Good luck with your future!

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