Firefighters took home a median salary of $45,250 in 2010, and for this they're willing to put their lives on the line. But if you want to become a firefighter, it's a career that offers more than money. Firefighters play an important role in the community, protecting the public and responding to emergencies. Day by day, they serve the community in several important ways.
Protecting the Public
When you think about a career as a firefighter, you no doubt think of the central work that they do: fighting fires. Firefighters respond to fires and put themselves in harm's way to protect property and to rescue people. This involves putting out fires from outside structures, but also entering burning buildings to search for people.
Responding to Medical Emergencies
While firefighters are mostly associated with putting out fires, but in many communities, you will respond to medical emergencies more often than fires, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This can involve treating victims on the scene of a fire, but firefighters are also first responders who may be called to respond to other medical emergencies, such as vehicle crashes.
Forest firefighters protect America's woodlands and neighboring residents from the disaster caused by forest fires. There, you might use water when pumps or water lines are available, or you might use heavy equipment and hand tools to create fireblocks to stop fires from spreading. Some specialized forest firefighters even parachute into inaccessible areas to fight fires at ground level.
Firefighters play a key role in disaster relief, even when the disaster does not involve fire. You might be dispatched to hazardous materials disasters, cleaning up oil and chemical spills. In the case of natural disasters such as earthquakes, you and fellow firefighters might try to find survivors who are trapped or injured.
If you become a firefighter, you don't just put out fires, you also work to prevent them. Public education is an important part of prevention. So, you might regularly find yourself visiting schools to educate children. Or, you could visit groups in the community to help the general public learn about fire hazards and what to do in case of a fire.