In 2009, there were approximately 1.3 million fire-related accidents in the United States, in which as many as 3,010 people lost their lives and 17,050 were injured. The number of civilian deaths and injuries would have been a lot higher, had it not been for the timely services of the United States Fire Administration (USFA). Since its inception in 1974, it has saved thousands of lives in the country. In fact, the USFA responds to a fire-related accident every 22 seconds. With such stats at our disposal, nobody would deny the fact that our firefighters deserve respect. If firefighting is considered one of the most dangerous occupations in the world, it is largely because of the tremendous risk involved.
Firefighters - What Do They Do?
Firefighters, also known as firemen, are rescuers who are specifically trained in firefighting and rescue operations. They are also expected to participate in a number of civil and public services in coordination with other federal agencies. Their job profile involves the work of a rescuer as well as that of an emergency medical technician, in the event of fire accidents, building crash, road accidents, natural calamities, etc. Their duties can be broadly grouped into two categories: (i) emergency duties and (ii) non-emergency duties.
These duties begin with a distress call. When the fire department receives a distress call, firefighters are expected to rush to the spot where their services are needed. Irrespective of whether it's a fire breakout or some other accident, they are expected to start the rescue operations immediately. In order to do this, they are equipped with specialized equipment. In case of a fire breakout, they combat fire, extinguish it, and save people's lives and property. In case of accidents, their main task is to carry out rescue operation and save people's lives.
Firefighters also provide emergency medical help as and when required. Armed with special training and specialized equipment, they work in smoke-filled environment, wherein their lives are at risk, only to save other people's lives. In order to carry out all these duties efficiently, firefighters are subjected to excessive training, which includes rescue operations and medical expertise. In order to live up to these expectations, the person should be self motivated and determined to face various challenges.
Their non-emergency duties most often revolve around maintenance of equipment and participation in public relations projects. They are expected to be ready at any given point of time for emergency services and hence, maintenance of equipment plays a crucial role in terms of non-emergency duties. Similarly, these individuals participate in numerous public relations programs where they work to assist people in community services. In such community programs, they spread awareness about fire safety. Senior firefighters are also expected to give on-the-job training to new recruits.
On an average, firefighters earn around $30,000 to $45,000 per year at the beginning of their career. Over the period, it goes up to $50,000 to $80,000 per year, depending on their years of service. Rest assured, more than the salary, it's the joy of saving lives that keeps these firefighters going.