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Fire Fighters picture    Fire Fighters image

Fire Fighters

Fire fighters protect the public and property from the dangers of fire. Typically, fire fighters deal with other types of emergencies more often than fires. Firefighters are often the first emergency workers at the scene of a medical emergency or traffic accident. They treat injuries and perform other vital tasks. The vast majority of fire fighters are employed by local governments.

While on duty, fire fighters need to be prepared to immediately respond to a fire or other types of emergencies. At emergency scenes, fire fighters perform specific tasks assigned to them by a superior officer. A firefighter's duties can change several times while the crew is at a scene. Sometimes they stay at a disaster location for days assisting with medical treatments and rescuing people that are trapped.

When firefighters are not dealing with emergency situations they clean and maintain their equipment and sometimes learn additional job related skills. They also participate in physical fitness activities and conduct practice drills.

Firefighters work in various environments including rural areas, metropolitan areas, chemical plants, industrial sites and airports. Some fire fighters are part of hazard material units that are trained for the cleanup and prevention of hazardous materials.

Those that specialize in forest fires use different equipment and methods than other fire fighters. When a forest fire occurs, these workers attempt to suppress the fire with heavy equipment and water hoses. They construct fire lines which involves cutting down trees and removing combustible types of vegetation that are in the path of a fire in order to deprive the fire of fuel. Smoke Jumpers are elite firefighters that parachute from airplanes in order to get to fire areas that are very hard to reach.

Responsibilities

  • Find and rescue occupants of buildings and homes
  • Provide emergency medical attention
  • Connect hose lines to hydrants and operate a pump to transport water to high-pressure hoses
  • Ventilate smoke filled areas
  • Use systematic and careful procedures in order to extinguish fires
  • Use tools to get through walls, doors and debris
  • Read fire science literature in order to stay current with technological developments and changes in administrative practices and policies
  • Salvage items from buildings
  • Create written reports on fire incidents

Job Characteristics

They spend a lot of time at fire stations which are typically similar to dormitories. Fire fighting has a high risk of injury or death. They may also come into contact with radioactive materials and flammable, poisonous or explosive gases and chemicals which can have immediate or long-term negative effects on their health.

Fire fighters should have courage, mental alertness, strength, endurance and mechanical aptitude. They should also have a desire to serve the public. Since members of fire fighting crews live and work closely together they need to be able to get along well with others.

Many firefighters work about 50 hours per week or more. In some agencies, firefighters are on duty for 24 hours which is followed by being off duty for 48 hours and they get an additional day off at intervals. Other fire fighters have different types of work schedules. Fire captains and lieutenants often work the same hours as the firefighters they oversee.

Employment Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 19 percent employment growth for fire fighters between 2008 and 2018 which is faster than average for all occupations. Keen competition is expected for fire fighting jobs. Those that score the highest on mechanical aptitude and physical-conditioning exams have the best opportunities. Individuals that have also completed some fire fighter education at a community college and have paramedic or EMT certification have an additional advantage.

The median annual earnings for fire fighters in 2008 was $44,260. The highest paid 10 percent earned more than $72,210. Fire fighters typically have pension plans.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

Applicants for fire fighter positions are usually required to have a high school diploma. Completing some secondary education or achieving an associate degree in fire science may improve a candidates chances for getting a job. Numerous colleges and universities offer two-year and four-year degrees in fire engineering or fire science.

Entry-level firefighters in large fire departments are trained for several weeks at the department's academy or training center. Practical training and classroom teaching are provided. After they complete their training they undergo a period of probation at a fire company. Many fire departments provide accredited apprenticeship programs which last up to four years, including programs in fighting forest fires. These programs combine on-the-job training with formal instruction.

Fire fighters in almost all departments need to be certified as emergency medical technicians. Most fire departments require the lowest level of certification which is Emergency Medical Technician-Basic (EMT-Basic). However, large departments in major metropolitan areas are increasingly requiring fire fighters to have paramedic certification. Some fire departments provide this type of training in a fire academy, however some fire departments prefer candidates acquire EMT certification on their own, but they are usually given up to one year to achieve EMT certification.

Candidates for municipal firefighter positions typically are required to pass a written exam and tests of physical stamina, strength, coordination and agility as well as a medical examination that includes drug screening. Candidates that achieve the highest scores in all areas of testing have the best chances for getting a job.

Resources

Major Employers

The top employers are local governments.

Schools for Fire Fighters are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:
Fire Fighters

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Fire Fighters jobs , as of 2016

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hoover 1370 $43,660
Birmingham 1370 $43,660
Montgomery 510 $45,380
Huntsville 440 $43,350
Mobile 360 $34,140
Tuscaloosa 210 $49,080
Dothan 190 $29,900
Gadsden 170 $32,740
Jacksonville 150 $41,670
Oxford 150 $41,670
Anniston 150 $41,670
Decatur 110 $43,540
Florence 100 $30,200
Muscle Shoals 100 $30,200
Foley 100 $40,240
Daphne 100 $40,240
Fairhope 100 $40,240
     
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage 410 $67,880
Fairbanks 150 $48,200
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Mesa 3580 $51,830
Phoenix 3580 $51,830
Scottsdale 3580 $51,830
Tucson 930 $39,130
Prescott 580 $44,700
Lake Havasu City 500 $40,920
Kingman 500 $40,920
Yuma 300 $44,340
Flagstaff 250 $34,100
Sierra Vista 210 $44,550
Douglas 210 $44,550
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 890 $42,890
North Little Rock 890 $42,890
Little Rock 890 $42,890
Pine Bluff 70 $47,070
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anaheim 8680 $77,730
Long Beach 8680 $77,730
Los Angeles 8680 $77,730
Oakland 3810 $91,470
Hayward 3810 $91,470
San Francisco 3810 $91,470
Carlsbad 2990 $60,900
San Diego 2990 $60,900
Ontario 2470 $59,560
San Bernardino 2470 $59,560
Riverside 2470 $59,560
Roseville 1960 $63,770
Sacramento 1960 $63,770
Arden 1960 $63,770
Arcade 1960 $63,770
Santa Clara 1150 $78,340
Sunnyvale 1150 $78,340
San Jose 1150 $78,340
Bakersfield 970 $65,820
Salinas 590 $57,440
Stockton 520 $52,660
Lodi 520 $52,660
Ventura 510 $71,120
Thousand Oaks 510 $71,120
Oxnard 510 $71,120
Santa Barbara 410 $74,610
Santa Maria 410 $74,610
Watsonville 400 $59,560
Santa Cruz 400 $59,560
Fresno 380 $50,760
Visalia 370 $60,520
Porterville 370 $60,520
Santa Rosa 360 $74,390
Modesto 280 $62,320
Chico 270 $51,860
Redding 220 $51,860
Yuba City 210 $24,870
El Centro 190 $41,120
Napa 150 $48,990
Madera 140 N/A
Fairfield 140 $44,240
Vallejo 140 $44,240
Hanford 120 $47,890
Corcoran 120 $47,890
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Aurora 2060 $65,930
Denver 2060 $65,930
Lakewood 2060 $65,930
Colorado Springs 910 $44,690
Greeley 330 $49,850
Boulder 300 $61,150
Pueblo 230 $45,660
Fort Collins 210 $64,400
Grand Junction 200 $44,660
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Norwalk 1030 $68,250
Bridgeport 1030 $68,250
Stamford 1030 $68,250
East Hartford 820 $66,480
West Hartford 820 $66,480
Hartford 820 $66,480
New Haven 660 $70,240
Danbury 80 $71,120
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Palm Beach 7020 $64,690
Fort Lauderdale 7020 $64,690
Miami 7020 $64,690
Clearwater 3310 $45,990
St. Petersburg 3310 $45,990
Tampa 3310 $45,990
Orlando 3210 $40,920
Sanford 3210 $40,920
Kissimmee 3210 $40,920
Jacksonville 1700 $47,070
Cape Coral 1000 $56,610
Fort Myers 1000 $56,610
Bradenton 790 $49,990
Sarasota 790 $49,990
North Port 790 $49,990
Deltona 660 $35,580
Daytona Beach 660 $35,580
Ormond Beach 660 $35,580
Crestview 560 $39,390
Destin 560 $39,390
Fort Walton Beach 560 $39,390
Tallahassee 560 $41,350
Ocala 540 $30,160
Winter Haven 540 $32,090
Lakeland 540 $32,090
Marco Island 510 $59,300
Immokalee 510 $59,300
Naples 510 $59,300
Gainesville 440 $44,310
Ferry Pass 370 $34,850
Pensacola 370 $34,850
Brent 370 $34,850
Panama City 330 $32,040
Punta Gorda 230 $38,840
Sebring 70 $31,290
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sandy Springs 6590 $37,370
Atlanta 6590 $37,370
Roswell 6590 $37,370
Savannah 470 $30,130
Macon 420 $34,500
Gainesville 370 $35,500
Albany 230 $34,460
Warner Robins 220 $28,030
Athens 190 $30,710
Clarke County 190 $30,710
Dalton 150 $27,820
Valdosta 90 $27,280
Hinesville 90 $42,690
     
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Urban Honolulu 1030 $59,460
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 420 $51,120
Idaho Falls 330 $43,100
Coeur d'Alene 220 $47,760
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rockford 470 $47,740
Peoria 460 $27,980
Urbana 350 $51,620
Champaign 350 $51,620
Decatur 140 $40,040
Bloomington 100 $50,480
Marion 80 $45,430
Carbondale 80 $45,430
Kankakee N/A $30,100
Springfield N/A $57,230
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anderson 3070 $51,480
Carmel 3070 $51,480
Indianapolis 3070 $51,480
Fort Wayne 400 N/A
Goshen 190 $50,040
Elkhart 190 $50,040
Bloomington 160 $39,040
Terre Haute 150 $38,730
Muncie 120 $45,140
Lafayette 100 $54,510
West Lafayette 100 $54,510
Columbus 70 $43,870
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Des Moines 510 $36,770
Des Moines 510 $36,770
Iowa City 60 $54,590
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Wichita 660 $34,750
Topeka 240 $30,370
Lawrence 140 $44,790
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fayette 730 $32,350
Lexington 730 $32,350
Fort Knox 130 $33,500
Elizabethtown 130 $33,500
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Metairie 1630 $36,530
New Orleans 1630 $36,530
Baton Rouge 1480 $29,240
Shreveport 850 $40,200
Bossier City 850 $40,200
Lake Charles 400 $26,690
Lafayette 280 $31,030
Monroe 260 $22,790
Alexandria 190 $28,470
Hammond 180 $24,170
Houma 150 $26,520
Thibodaux 150 $26,520
     
Metro Area (Maine) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Portland 820 $29,730
South Portland 820 $29,730
Bangor 190 $42,270
Auburn 70 $40,720
Lewiston 70 $40,720
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 2040 $57,000
Columbia 2040 $57,000
Baltimore 2040 $57,000
     
Metro Area (Massachusetts) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Barnstable Town 530 $61,080
New Bedford 230 $59,550
Gardner 210 $40,750
Leominster 210 $40,750
Pittsfield 130 $44,350
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dearborn 2470 $48,160
Detroit 2470 $48,160
Warren 2470 $48,160
Wyoming 580 $45,830
Grand Rapids 580 $45,830
East Lansing 350 $38,220
Lansing 350 $38,220
Flint 330 $33,890
Muskegon 160 $31,910
Ann Arbor 160 $56,640
Battle Creek 130 $43,940
Benton Harbor 90 $38,580
Niles 90 $38,580
Monroe 70 $55,730
Jackson 40 $45,570
Saginaw N/A $45,830
Bay City N/A $53,470
     
Metro Area (Minnesota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
St. Cloud 250 $24,220
Rochester 100 $44,350
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jackson 620 $27,030
Pascagoula 510 $38,430
Biloxi 510 $38,430
Gulfport 510 $38,430
Hattiesburg 130 $27,730
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 580 $38,420
Joplin 160 $32,100
     
Metro Area (Montana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Great Falls 70 $50,830
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 1140 $68,220
Henderson 1140 $68,220
Las Vegas 1140 $68,220
Reno 250 $52,860
     
Metro Area (New Hampshire) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Manchester 240 $58,230
     
Metro Area (New Jersey) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Atlantic City 340 $86,550
Hammonton 340 $86,550
Trenton 300 $90,800
Ocean City 50 N/A
Bridgeton 50 $51,770
Vineland 50 $51,770
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 810 $35,460
Las Cruces 150 $35,880
Farmington 60 $35,400
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Niagara Falls 770 $67,840
Cheektowaga 770 $67,840
Buffalo 770 $67,840
Rochester 680 $71,700
Rome 160 $55,940
Utica 160 $55,940
Syracuse 120 $48,350
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Raleigh 1770 $34,480
Greensboro 1320 $38,780
High Point 1320 $38,780
Asheville 970 $29,810
Winston 950 $30,020
Salem 950 $30,020
Fayetteville 790 $27,920
Durham 760 $39,570
Chapel Hill 760 $39,570
Morganton 610 $25,180
Lenoir 610 $25,180
Hickory 610 $25,180
Wilmington 400 $29,440
Jacksonville 270 $44,040
Rocky Mount 260 $29,110
Burlington 230 $28,210
New Bern 140 $45,100
Goldsboro 100 $39,380
     
Metro Area (North Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bismarck 90 $47,360
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Elyria 3830 $51,160
Cleveland 3830 $51,160
Columbus 3680 $57,880
Dayton 1420 $36,980
Akron 1380 $46,850
Toledo 920 $51,260
Canton 520 $29,430
Massillon 520 $29,430
Mansfield 290 $34,210
Lima 180 $51,730
Springfield 110 $28,470
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Oklahoma City 1220 $55,960
Tulsa 910 $38,770
Lawton 180 $36,020
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Eugene 300 $59,280
Salem 250 $64,840
Redmond 150 $56,560
Bend 150 $56,560
Medford 140 $70,120
Albany 110 $72,930
Corvallis 40 $75,090
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 780 $58,420
Wilkes 320 $55,200
Hazleton 320 $55,200
Barre 320 $55,200
Scranton 320 $55,200
Harrisburg 240 $48,450
Carlisle 240 $48,450
Hanover 170 $60,560
York 170 $60,560
Erie 90 $70,000
Lebanon 40 $51,210
     
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Caguas 1360 $26,030
Carolina 1360 $26,030
San Juan 1360 $26,030
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charleston 1280 $35,000
North Charleston 1280 $35,000
Greenville 1050 $32,610
Mauldin 1050 $32,610
Anderson 1050 $32,610
Columbia 720 $37,530
Beaufort 400 $45,370
Bluffton 400 $45,370
Hilton Head Island 400 $45,370
Spartanburg 370 $30,170
Florence 190 $24,950
     
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sioux Falls 210 $52,840
Rapid City 170 $34,540
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Franklin 1060 $41,310
Murfreesboro 1060 $41,310
Davidson 1060 $41,310
Nashville 1060 $41,310
Knoxville 730 $39,770
Johnson City 130 $41,300
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dallas 7890 $53,800
Fort Worth 7890 $53,800
Arlington 7890 $53,800
Houston 6570 $48,470
Sugar Land 6570 $48,470
The Woodlands 6570 $48,470
San Antonio 2670 $62,750
New Braunfels 2670 $62,750
Austin 1930 $54,920
Round Rock 1930 $54,920
Corpus Christi 720 $46,590
El Paso 710 $43,850
Temple 610 $44,770
Killeen 610 $44,770
McAllen 450 $31,290
Edinburg 450 $31,290
Mission 450 $31,290
Port Arthur 430 $60,320
Beaumont 430 $60,320
Laredo 420 $47,660
Harlingen 370 $58,600
Brownsville 370 $58,600
Tyler 340 $31,090
Amarillo 340 $60,270
Longview 280 $54,900
Waco 230 $45,320
College Station 230 $48,810
Bryan 230 $48,810
Wichita Falls 220 $43,960
Sherman 80 $44,600
Denison 80 $44,600
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 770 $41,440
Clearfield 640 $30,990
Ogden 640 $30,990
Orem 460 $26,740
Provo 460 $26,740
St. George 110 $30,590
     
Metro Area (Vermont) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Burlington 80 $43,560
Burlington 80 $43,560
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 1780 $53,210
Roanoke 490 $41,910
Lynchburg 230 N/A
Staunton 180 $30,970
Waynesboro 180 $30,970
Charlottesville 150 $30,330
Harrisonburg 140 $40,920
Blacksburg 100 $23,160
Christiansburg 100 $23,160
Radford 100 $23,160
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Tacoma 4090 $80,470
Bellevue 4090 $80,470
Seattle 4090 $80,470
Spokane Valley 690 $67,640
Spokane 690 $67,640
Bremerton 310 $74,330
Silverdale 310 $74,330
Yakima 240 $26,870
Wenatchee 230 $31,250
Richland 230 $71,050
Kennewick 230 $71,050
Olympia 210 $64,620
Tumwater 210 $64,620
Mount Vernon 200 $61,520
Anacortes 200 $61,520
Bellingham 190 $72,180
Walla Walla 90 N/A
Longview 60 $70,090
     
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charleston 230 $36,420
Beckley 100 $29,370
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Allis 1660 $50,150
Waukesha 1660 $50,150
Milwaukee 1660 $50,150
Madison 1240 $25,510
Green Bay 560 $44,170
Eau Claire 340 $29,680
Appleton 330 $24,300
Oshkosh 290 $44,540
Neenah 290 $44,540
Racine 290 $47,250
Wausau 260 $32,320
Beloit 190 $28,920
Janesville 190 $28,920
Fond du Lac 140 $36,450
Sheboygan 100 $53,870
     
Metro Area (Wyoming) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Cheyenne N/A $51,960

Most Popular Industries for :
Fire Fighters

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Government 288,180 99% $44,700
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Fire Fighters.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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