Inside Firefighter Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Intense Physical Excitement...
How intense going on a fire call is. Waking up from a dead sleep and going into an intense situation is amazing." (Fire Fighter; 2014)

Career: 9 years of experience, currently based in North Carolina, male
School: Studied Fire Fighting at Edgecombe Community College in North Carolina; completed Certificate degree in 2008

"EMS Abuse...
What has surprised me most about the Firefighting/EMS profession is how the general public takes advantage of the system. I expected that there would be some, but I would say approximately 80% of the calls I run are for non emergent situations." (Fire Fighter; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Florida, male
School: Studied Fire Science at St. Petersburg College in Florida; completed Associate degree in 2012

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Firefighter: "The best part of the job is helping people and saving lives. But the most exciting part is fighting fires. You get an amazing adrenaline rush that helps you to do it. The worst part of the job is being awakened out of a dead sleep and being forced to make urgent decisions, especially in the dead of winter. It is very tough on the body and the mind." (2010)

Deputy Fire Chief: "The best part of being a firefighter is being able to serve the community. Firefighters are highly regarded by the public and enjoy an enormous amount of respect and trust. We are allowed access into peoples homes in the event of an emergency and are given complete trust with their lives and valuables. The worst part of the job is seeing the suffering that comes with house fires, vehicle accidents and medical emergencies. The devastation or total loss caused by a house fire is tremendously painful for its inhabitants who often lose everything. Sometimes we are unable to save the lives that we work so hard to protect, and the loss of life can be very painful to see." (2010)

Career Background


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  How to Prepare for the Job
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Career Video

Career Tips

"Stay In Shape...
Stay in very good physical condition. Almost everything you do is very strenuous, and hard on your heart." (Fire Fighter; 2014)

"Always Stay Diligent...
If you want to be a successful firefighter, one must have complete dedication on the job. Not only including your probationary year, one must always be in a state of learning, never relax and assume you know everything, because you never will." (Fire Fighter; 2013)

"Become A Paramedic First...
1. Become a paramedic before applying. A lot of towns will only hire paramedics these days (unless they have a private ambulance company) 2. Stay in great physical shape. Firefighting is a very physical job and being out of shape will make it that much tougher. 3.Take fire science classes. What you learn will be invaluable and may allow for a higher rate of pay or a yearly stipend." (Firefighter; 2010)

"Military Training Can Be A Stepping Stone...
The fire department is a great career with many rewards both personally and professionally. Civil service jobs are very competitive and have many stipulations. Most civil service jobs allow some form of "veteran's preference," so serving in the country's military is an ideal stepping stone to becoming a firefighter. There are college courses in fire science that can help provide you with a foundation for the exam. Becoming an EMT or paramedic is also an excellent way to make yourself more marketable" (Deputy Fire Chief; 2010)