Just like any other company or business, fire stations and departments rely on qualified managers to keep everything running smoothly. Some stations call these management-level firefighters, who receive certification as fire officers, fire suppression officers. Women make up only 3 percent of all firefighters and just 0.5 percent of firefighters in supervisory roles such as fire suppression officer, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Whether male or female, a fire suppression officer must meet stringent qualifications to earn the role and fulfill her job duties.
Earn the Credentials
A career as a fire suppression officer starts in the classroom, earning fire officer certification and getting the know-how and skills to perform the job duties safely and effectively. Fire officer certification programs come from a variety of sources, including colleges and universities, state-level fire organizations and government entities. Along with certification as a fire officer, you can also try for the Incident Safety Officer Fire Suppression Certification from the Fire Department Safety Officers Association. The FDSOA fire suppression designation requires you to have at least five years of experience as a suppression officer, as well as pass a certification exam.
Meet the Qualifications
Along with the appropriate credentials, you’ll also have to fulfill certain eligibility qualifications. Most fire departments require you to have a four-year bachelor’s degree in any field, with preference given to those with fire science degrees. You’ll also need a certain number of years of experience in firefighting, including management experience at a fire department. Other qualifications may include holding a commercial driver’s license, proving you’re in good physical condition by passing a physical examination and having first aid training and certification.
Use Your Skills
As a fire suppression officer, you’ll have to use certain skills on the job, including leadership and management skills to lead your team of firefighters. You should be able to motivate your firefighters, as well as discipline them if needed. As a leader, you should be willing to work with a wide variety of personality types, and set a good example in your professional life. Other skills include strong communication skills, both on paper and orally, organizational skills and problem-solving skills, especially in high-stress situations.
Do the Work
Most fire suppression officers take on duties similar to that of a safety officer, ensuring that everyone returns from every emergency, every time. The best way to ensure your firefighters stay safe is through effective training, so you'll develop training plans and oversee the training process. You'll make sure that the firefighters display the skills and know-how needed for the job, evaluating personnel regularly. On the scene, you’ll assess the situation and assign jobs, keeping safety a priority. Other duties include station maintenance and upkeep, managing safety programs and providing educational resources to the public.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: 2012 Household Data Annual Averages
- Massachusetts Fire Association: Fire Officer Training Programs
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- Fire Department Safety Officers Association: Incident Safety Officer Fire Suppression
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- City of Meridian: Fire Suppression Officer
- Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images
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