A Career in Fire Services
People’s lives often depend on the quick reaction and competent care of fire and emergency services professionals. A career in fire and emergency services means helping to protect the public against danger by responding to fires and a variety of other emergencies. Emergency personnel are typically on call 24 hours a day when working, and are usually the first at the scene of traffic accidents, medical emergencies, industrial accidents, and most public incidents and urgent situations.
Additionally, fire protection engineering technology is the application of fire science and engineering principles to protect people and the environment from the destructive effects of fire and smoke. In practice, these professionals typically work to identify fire and safety risks and design safeguards that aid in preventing, controlling and mitigating the effects of fires.
There are many career opportunities in fire protection throughout the public and private sector. Professionals work in conjunction with developers, construction companies, architects and others to design fire and safety protection systems, as well as evaluate an existing building’s safety protocol. They are also employed as fire investigators, working to examine and analyze fire damage in a variety of scenarios, from small business fires to large-scale disasters such as the World Trade Center collapse. Many industrial, manufacturing and government businesses seek professionals with this skill set to provide engineering and safety solutions and to ensure compliance with fire regulations.
Other typical responsibilities include designing fire sprinkler systems, creating security measures for the storage and transportation of combustible materials, performing risk assessments, interpreting building codes, planning safety procedures, as well as performing research into fire dynamics and other fire-related phenomena.
Fighting fires and responding to emergencies is complex and at times dangerous. For this reason, it’s an occupation that requires organization and teamwork as an essential component for success. At every emergency scene there are specific duties that are assigned by a superior officer. Leaders and managers must make knowledgeable decisions quickly, while using their acquired experience and understanding of procedure to guide them. Emergency workers must follow orders under pressure while utilizing their knowledge to best fulfill their role in the team.
A trend toward more people living in and around cities has increased the demand for fire and emergency service personnel. When areas develop and become more densely populated, emergencies and fires affect more buildings and more people and, therefore, require more resources. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in this field is expected to grow faster than average and continue through 2018. Opportunities will be best for those who have earned advanced degrees and education.
Here is a sample of careers available with these fire degrees:
Fire Service Personnel (Firefighter, Fire Chief, Assistant Chief, etc.) – Provide public fire prevention, life safety education, emergency medical services and fire suppression services to a state, county, province, municipality or organized fire district.
First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Firefighting and Prevention Workers – Supervise and coordinate activities of workers engaged in firefighting and fire prevention and control.
Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics – Assess injuries, administer emergency medical care and extricate trapped individuals. Transport injured or sick people to medical facilities.
Fire Inspectors – Fire investigators determine the causes of fires. They collect evidence, interview witnesses and prepare reports on fires in cases in which the cause may be arson or criminal negligence.
Industrial Fire Protection – Any employee of an industrial, institutional or commercial entity who on a full-time or part-time basis is actively engaged in the formulation, administration or implementation of policies and procedures designed to provide fire protection for his or her employer’s facilities.
Arson Investigation – Arson investigators investigate possible criminal activities as they relate to fire involving explosions, fireworks and other fire/arson-related incidents. Arson investigators respond to fire scenes and sort through the aftermath to determine the cause and origin of the fire. Investigators are authorized to collect evidence and are sworn law enforcement officers with full powers of arrest to charge people suspected of being involved in arson-related activities.