Firefighter Job Description: Top Duties and Requirements

A Firefighter, or a Fire Brigade Worker, is the first line of response to fires and other emergencies. Their duties include responding to various emergencies, protecting people and their properties from fires, and providing emergency medical aid.

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Firefighter duties and responsibilities

A Firefighter is responsible for rapidly and efficiently responding to emergencies. They use specialized equipment to put out fires, rescue victims, and minimize damage. When Firefighters are not responding to emergencies, they work in their communities to raise awareness of fire safety and promote safety standards. Some of their other duties include: 

  • Operating and maintaining firefighting equipment, including vehicles, hoses, and the fire station
  • Providing emergency medical care and assisting with evacuations
  • Participating in medical and firefighting training programs
  • Leading and participating in community education programs
  • Driving firetrucks and other emergency vehicles

What does a Firefighter do?

 A Firefighter puts out fires and assists in other emergencies such as medical emergencies and natural disasters. Emergency responsibilities include responding quickly to calls by driving fire trucks and other emergency vehicles; and extinguishing fires with water hoses, fire extinguishers, and pumps. At an accident, Firefighters find and rescue people and animals from burning buildings or treat victims of fire with emergency medical care. They may write reports on emergency incidents. Routine duties include cleaning and maintaining equipment, conducting drills and fitness training, and performing inspections and clerical duties.

Firefighters are employed by federal, provincial and municipal governments. They may also work as full-time, part-time and contract employees for large establishments that require firefighting services.

Firefighter skills and qualifications

When looking for a strong Firefighter candidate, consider applicants with critical-thinking and decision-making skills who are also organized and professional. You may require a Firefighter candidate to pass health, fitness, and drug screenings. Other skills and qualifications include:

  • Knowledge of firefighting equipment, including hoses, trucks, and machinery
  • Knowledge of rules and regulations regarding safety, fire service, and emergency medical services locally
  • Experience with first aid and emergency medical care
  • Ability to work for long hours under high-stress conditions
  • Strong communication and teamwork skills
  • Excellent problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work in fast-paced environments

Firefighter experience requirements

Depending on your organization’s needs, you may want to prioritize Firefighter candidates with work experience, such as certifiable days actively involved in firefighting. While it is important for a Firefighter candidate to have some experience, also consider entry-level applicants. Some duties and responsibilities can be taught on-the-job. Volunteer experience as a Firefighter is a plus for an applicant.

Firefighter education and training requirements

Firefighter applicants must complete their secondary school education. Candidates who complete a college program in fire science, fire protection technology or related fields may be an asset to your organization. A good applicant also has firefighting and emergency medical care training. In New Brunswick, applicants must complete an apprenticeship training program and have a voluntary trade certificate from an accredited institute. 

You may ask a Firefighter candidate for other requirements such as a Standard First Aid & CPR certificate or a Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) certificate.

Firefighter salary expectations

According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary for a Firefighter in Canada is $87,403 per year. Salaries may vary based on experience, location and organizations.

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Firefighter job description FAQs

Who does a Firefighter report to?

There are a few different people Firefighters may report to. Lieutenants are usually responsible for overseeing the daily tasks and operations of the Firefighter team. They may analyze the Firefighter’s performance and provide valuable feedback for improvements to make in their role. Lieutenants may also train new Firefighters, and offer updated training sessions throughout their time at the station. 

The Captain is typically the highest-ranking officer at a fire station. They’re in charge of all employees, including Lieutenants, and provide directions for all Firefighters to follow during emergencies. 

What are the different types of Firefighters?

Firefighters may pursue different careers within their field. Some Firefighters work in a general role, where their jobs primarily center on entering burning buildings and extinguishing fires. Others specialize in cleaning up and controlling hazardous chemicals, like oil spills. Wildland Firefighters, who spend their time in preventing and extinguishing forest or wildfires, use heavy-duty equipment and larger water hoses to extinguish and control large wildfires. A Firefighter may also develop their skills and become a Fire Officer, Structural Firefighter, Airport Firefighter or other related professionals.

What's the difference between a Firefighter and a Fire Investigator?

Firefighters and Fire Investigators respond to fire emergencies. However, there are some key differences between both professionals. A Firefighter arrives at the scene of a fire and works to control or completely extinguish it. They also save people and prevent damages due to fires. Once the fire is out, a Firefighter leaves the scene. Fire Investigators typically appear after a fire occurs to assess the scene, determine how the fire occurred and decide whether to investigate further.

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