Firefighter Duties



Below is a brief description of the duties of a volunteer firefighter. It by no means describes everything that is required of a firefighter, but it should give you some idea of the demands of the position.

As a volunteer firefighter, you will be required to perform a large variety of tasks. Some for these tasks may include rescue of victims, fire prevention, and hazardous material incidents.

The following is a preview of the types of tasks which are required of a firefighter. They are intended to give you a better understanding of the role so you can decide whether you are really willing and able to perform the duties when called upon. The preview by no means describes every task required of a firefighter but will give you some idea of what volunteering consists of:

Emergency calls can come in at any time, day or night and must be responded to immediately. Many times sleep is interrupted. Regardless of the time or what you may be doing, firefighters must be able to get themselves to the fire hall, dress in their protective equipment and get into emergency vehicles without incident when responding to an emergency call.  Emergency calls can include anything: structure fires, auto accidents, brush fires, and false alarms. All calls regardless of what they are must be responded to quickly and professionally.

Once on the scene you must determine what type of incident that you have. You must recognize the potential of the incident, consider exposures that may be in danger, how the weather will affect the incident, extinguishments methods if there is fire involved, the needs of victims, and many other things. It is imperative that the firefighter be able to think quickly and initiate the correct procedures to deal with each unique incident.

Firefighting is one of the most physically demanding tasks there is. Firefighters must enter burning structures, search for victims, find the source of the fire, and determine ways to extinguish the fire. While doing, firefighters carry anywhere from 40 to 100 lbs of equipment such as axes, ladders saws, hoses and extinguishers. They use hose tools to rescue victims and to put out the fire.

Firefighters are often required to cut locks, break windows, or break down doors to make entry into structures. Doing this may involve the use of various tools such as Halligan tools, axes, pry bars and power tools.

Ladders are a very important piece of equipment to the fire service. Firefighters use ladders at various heights of fight fires, rescue victims, and ventilate structures, as well as other things. They must be able to raise, lower, and rotate these ladders quickly and correctly to provide entry to and from the structure.

Locating and connecting to sources of water is another function of the firefighter. This often requires the use of various tools as well as considerable strength. Firefighters must drag, carry, or hoist hoselines into position for operation. Once lines are in place, a firefighter must then operate the hoseline.

Firefighters are also responsible for the salvage and overhaul of fire scenes. They must shovel, sweep and sometimes remove debris caused by the fire, in an effort to reduce damage.

As a firefighter many times you will be given orders which must be carried out promptly and without question.

Fire departments must respond to emergencies 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Fire departments do not shut down for holidays. During a major fire or emergency a firefighter may be away from home for several hours.