It’s not so hard to see why people know that firefighters are brave in the face of danger from an early age. Being a firefighter isn’t an easy job. The hours are often long, training is intense, and the work can be incredibly dangerous, even life-threatening. In some ways, being a firefighter is more of a calling than simply “another job.” To achieve success in this field, a person requires a mix of natural characteristics and a desire to improve on those things that don’t come naturally. Here’s what it takes to become a firefighter.
1. Mental Toughness
The work of saving lives is emotionally demanding. One of the most important aspects of being a firefighter is mental toughness. Firefighters may witness traumatic events that the rest of us are unlikely to encounter in our everyday lives. Before a person can even get to the stage where they are a firefighter, they must overcome a different type of mental obstacle. Many fire departments require in-class training. This means that recruits have the mental toughness to study day in and day out.
2. Physical Toughness
Packing around heavy loads of firefighting equipment, like hoses, oxygen tanks, axes, and ladders requires a physical endurance. This only comes from continued exercise and conditioning. The physical demands of firefighting are diverse. Some tasks, like carrying heavy firefighting gear through a burning building, require a lot of physical strength. No one wants to have a firefighter show up to save them only to have that same firefighter have to stop because they’re already exhausted. Staying in peak physical condition is paramount to the performance of the job.
3. Technical Skills
Developing physical and mental toughness is pointless if a person doesn’t have the technical skills to inform their decision-making during a crisis. For this reason, most fire departments require at least some community college classes in fire science, if not a bachelor’s degree in the subject. The first step in becoming a firefighter is often becoming an Emergency Medical Technician, or EMT, which is a person trained as a first responder for medical crises. Stabilizing people is often the first step to rescuing them.
4. A Desire to Serve
A firefighter is someone, who puts their desire to serve the community above everything else. Only after a person commits to this standard can they expect to be trusted with the lives of the people in their community. Part of this desire is a willingness to sacrifice one’s own health and well-being should circumstances call for it, but a person can prove their commitment to service in other ways. Firefighters may volunteer at schools, help raise funds for charities, and get involved with sports teams.
5. Be a Role Model
Since firefighters are so active in their communities, it’s important that they exhibit role model behavior. For example, getting in constant legal trouble is no way to build the trust in a community. No one can control everything in their lives. But, living a clean and healthy lifestyle is important to being a successful firefighter. In addition to being a community servant, some firefighters join local institutions like churches, civic societies, or school boards in order to take it a step further and be a leader in their community.
A firefighter is present in a community. And, when they are present, they are a positive force. Others may not adjust to the irregular schedules. But, once a person joins this profession, they become an important members of the community.