One of the most important public service jobs in the United States is the firefighting profession. From extinguishing grass fires, to providing first aid and rescue services in the aftermath of natural disasters, firefighters are continuously active in responding to and mitigating emergencies.
However, the firefighting profession has grown more complex in the modern world, with hazardous waste incidents, automotive accidents, and even terrorist actions, all being examples of potential situations that a firefighter must be prepared to face. This requires in depth and effective firefighter training for those who wish to become professional firefighters.
In the United States, this training most often starts with obtaining a firefighting certificate from a community college or specialized school. This certifies that the student has received firefighter training and is now prepared to take the civil service exam to qualify as a firefighter, or continue on to a higher education in firefighting techniques. It is this firefighter training that serves as the gateway to a long-term career as a firefighter.
The Responsibilities of the Firefighter
Modern firefighters have far more in the way of job responsibilities than those that previous firefighters faced. In addition to extinguishing fires, a firefighter must be prepared to render first aid to injured parties, rescue trapped individuals, and work to calm panicked bystanders. In addition, they must be trained to effectively document and record any emergencies they respond to as well as communicate the information to other firefighters, police and city or state officials.
Furthermore, the modern education of a firefighter must prepare the student for the wide variety of emergencies that can occur today. From being able to evaluate the nature of a fire and the proper method for containing and extinguishing it, to effectively treating on site injuries while communicating the precise nature of the emergency to the firefighter’s supervisors. Furthermore, the nature of many fires also requires a firefighter to have received extensive training in safely handling hazardous waste spills and fires, protecting both their fellow professionals and civilian bystanders. These responsibilities all require extensive and wide-ranging firefighter training at a qualified institution.
Finding the Right Firefighting Training School
When looking for a school that can provide effective firefighting training there are several factors to consider. The student should first make certain that the school is accredited to ensure that its training will be recognized by the various firefighting organizations in the United States. This is important, as many fire departments require such an accredited certificate in order to permit the student to take their entry exam.
Equally, the prospective student should examine the school’s training facilities. A school should have access to the same types of training systems used by regular fire departments, including the ability to simulate the various types of fires a student would encounter in the field.
Secondly, the prospective student should consider what level of training he is looking for. The initial firefighting certificate is only the first step in firefighter training. For those wishing to increase their knowledge or to qualify for management or specialty positions, there are higher degrees in the various aspects of firefighting training ranging from two-year programs to post-graduate degree programs, which provide an extensive backing in the theory and practice of firefighting science.
In other cases, these programs may prepare a candidate for other specialties, such as arson investigation, hazardous waste emergency response techniques, or training in dispatching and directing firefighting units. In all cases, it’s not a bad idea to check in with the National Fire Protection Agency as they are the premier fire training standards organization in the U.S.
Coursework, Certification and Firefighter Training
Firefighter training involves a variety of course work, ranging from classroom tests to physical drills in the field. This will focus on both the mental and physical skills needed to operate as a firefighter, including the ability to quickly act under stress.
The coursework for a basic firefighting certificate will usually involve all of the following subjects:
- How to effectively carry out search and rescue procedures, especially in the context of rescuing trapped individuals during a fire.
- The design and use of firefighting tools, and what types of fires they are most appropriate for.
- Evaluating structures for compliance with local fire and building codes.
These subjects will include both class work and tests involving the student displaying his knowledge in the field. As an example, firefighter training will involve extinguishing simulated house fires while carrying out searches to ensure that no victims are left in the building. In some cases, the student may also have to obtain certification in other fields, such as first aid or CPR as a part of his or her training.
For students wishing to obtain a bachelor’s degree in firefighting science, their in house firefighter training ideas will include coursework on long-range risk management strategies, how best to direct other firefighters during a fire or other emergency, and personnel management. These advanced courses will often also include simulated emergencies and other field tests of the student’s knowledge.
Upon obtaining a certificate from an accredited firefighter training program, a graduate can apply to a variety of federal, state, and local, fire departments. In many cases, this will allow the candidate to take the department’s entry exam. In some cases, a department may hire the successful graduate simply on the strength of his or her certificate.
Successful graduates of a firefighter training course not only can expect an exciting and financially successful career as firefighters; they will also find themselves working in a career that makes a real difference in society. As part of the firefighting profession, successful students will be acting to protect lives and property for their entire career, even as they continue to improve their professional skills to better serve the community.