So¡ you want to be a fireman. You like kittens and the color red. You've always run towards danger, not away from it. You think it would be fun to slide down a pole to get to work. And you don't mind the idea of striding away gratuitously while explosions go off behind you.
You've been dreaming about this since you were about 5 years old. How do you train and become a firefighter? Here are some tips that might help you on your way.
Tip #1 Study emergency first aid and CPR. Many of the emergency situations you will encounter as a firefighter will require these skills.
Tip #2 Learn a foreign language. In the US, knowing a second language like Spanish or Chinese is an advantage and may come in handy for situations where you have to guide people to safety.
Tip #3 Know the different types of firefighters and which type you are interested in. There are urban firefighters, wildland firefighters and industrial firefighters.
Urban firefighters specialize in fighting structural fires in cities. Wildland firefighters fight wildfires in areas like forests. Industrial firefighters fight fires which are caused by industrial accidents, such as chemical explosions. There are different techniques and concerns for the different types of firefighting.
Tip #4 Wait till your 18th birthday and make sure you finish high school.
Tip #5 Actually, while some fire departments accept high school graduates, many prefer that you have at least an Associate's Degree in Fire Science. Some places ask that you go to a firefighting school first and then apply for a job in the fire department. Other places require that you get the job first, then train later. So find out what the requirements are at your local fire department, and then create a plan accordingly.
Tip #7 Be a health and gym freak. Firefighters have to pass tough physical stamina and strength exams, medical exams and drug tests.
Tip #8 You may have to take psychological exams and aptitude exams as well.
Tip #9 Not all of the duties of a firefighter necessarily involve putting out a fire. Amongst the non-fire situations you can be called to attend are:
Tip #10 Know what you're getting into. Firefighters can be on call 24 hours a day, and shifts can be between 10-24 hours and occasionally up to 48 hours in a row. Do you have the dedication it takes? You may have to skip birthdays, family get-togethers, graduations and other holidays.
Finally, remember that if you would like to be a firefighter, you are not alone. There is fierce competition for the role, and it is understandable. The job is not for the faint-hearted, but will never be boring. If you have gone through the list and you think you have what it takes, then kudos to you and blaze on. Being a firefighter is a special calling. Not everyone, after all, has the chance to be a hero, day after day.