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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 2015

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hoover 1630 $39,730
Birmingham 1630 $39,730
Montgomery 550 $43,660
Huntsville 450 $41,890
Mobile 410 $35,690
Oxford 200 $39,020
Anniston 200 $39,020
Jacksonville 200 $39,020
Gadsden 170 $31,740
Muscle Shoals 160 $32,820
Florence 160 $32,820
Dothan 140 $34,490
Decatur 130 $62,470
Daphne 100 $39,180
Fairhope 100 $39,180
Foley 100 $39,180
     
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage 420 $65,090
Fairbanks 100 $53,900
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Mesa 3380 $51,510
Scottsdale 3380 $51,510
Phoenix 3380 $51,510
Tucson 660 $40,790
Prescott 600 $42,750
Sierra Vista 350 $35,880
Douglas 350 $35,880
Yuma 320 $44,160
Lake Havasu City 310 $40,670
Kingman 310 $40,670
Flagstaff 260 $31,630
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 790 $40,410
North Little Rock 790 $40,410
Little Rock 790 $40,410
Pine Bluff 90 $41,770
Jonesboro 80 $19,910
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anaheim 9780 $75,430
Los Angeles 9780 $75,430
Long Beach 9780 $75,430
Carlsbad 3990 $61,480
San Diego 3990 $61,480
Hayward 3920 $88,060
San Francisco 3920 $88,060
Oakland 3920 $88,060
Ontario 2950 $52,700
San Bernardino 2950 $52,700
Riverside 2950 $52,700
Sacramento 2340 $61,900
Roseville 2340 $61,900
Arcade 2340 $61,900
Arden 2340 $61,900
Sunnyvale 1170 $73,440
Santa Clara 1170 $73,440
San Jose 1170 $73,440
Bakersfield 980 $64,510
Salinas 600 $56,210
Thousand Oaks 530 $69,710
Ventura 530 $69,710
Oxnard 530 $69,710
Santa Rosa 520 $48,020
Santa Maria 480 $75,280
Santa Barbara 480 $75,280
Lodi 470 $50,050
Stockton 470 $50,050
Fresno 420 $46,540
Watsonville 400 $55,160
Santa Cruz 400 $55,160
Porterville 350 $53,630
Visalia 350 $53,630
Chico 340 $44,090
Redding 310 $42,870
Merced 270 $66,680
El Centro 250 $43,520
Yuba City 230 $25,730
Napa 190 $44,330
Modesto 190 $49,390
Vallejo 140 $44,360
Fairfield 140 $44,360
Hanford 110 $47,080
Corcoran 110 $47,080
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Aurora 2010 $63,580
Lakewood 2010 $63,580
Denver 2010 $63,580
Colorado Springs 950 $44,730
Boulder 300 $59,090
Greeley 250 $41,580
Pueblo 250 $48,410
Fort Collins 210 $64,490
Grand Junction 170 $41,910
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Norwalk 1030 $66,750
Stamford 1030 $66,750
Bridgeport 1030 $66,750
East Hartford 820 $64,920
West Hartford 820 $64,920
Hartford 820 $64,920
New Haven 590 $67,070
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fort Lauderdale 6950 $72,440
West Palm Beach 6950 $72,440
Miami 6950 $72,440
Clearwater 3140 $45,020
St. Petersburg 3140 $45,020
Tampa 3140 $45,020
Kissimmee 3100 $39,480
Sanford 3100 $39,480
Orlando 3100 $39,480
Jacksonville 1530 $42,240
Cape Coral 1050 $52,550
Fort Myers 1050 $52,550
Melbourne 850 $42,110
Titusville 850 $42,110
Palm Bay 850 $42,110
Sarasota 830 $48,440
North Port 830 $48,440
Bradenton 830 $48,440
Deltona 810 $36,530
Daytona Beach 810 $36,530
Ormond Beach 810 $36,530
Winter Haven 600 $33,220
Lakeland 600 $33,220
Ocala 530 $30,360
Crestview 500 $41,280
Fort Walton Beach 500 $41,280
Destin 500 $41,280
Port St. Lucie 490 $66,600
Naples 400 $55,770
Marco Island 400 $55,770
Immokalee 400 $55,770
Gainesville 380 $40,020
Ferry Pass 370 $34,040
Pensacola 370 $34,040
Brent 370 $34,040
Tallahassee 340 $39,620
Panama City 330 $33,790
Sebring 70 $28,180
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Roswell 6580 $36,010
Sandy Springs 6580 $36,010
Atlanta 6580 $36,010
Clarke County 430 $34,490
Athens 430 $34,490
Gainesville 370 $34,160
Macon 320 $28,840
Albany 230 $33,990
Warner Robins 210 $28,300
Dalton 150 $27,740
Valdosta 140 $29,320
Brunswick 130 $28,070
Hinesville 100 $42,220
     
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Urban Honolulu 1090 $58,320
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 450 $44,210
Idaho Falls 250 N/A
Coeur d'Alene 190 $50,550
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rockford 520 $46,690
Champaign 490 $45,040
Urbana 490 $45,040
Peoria 380 $19,430
Marion 190 $41,260
Carbondale 190 $41,260
Bloomington 150 $19,610
Kankakee 100 $48,580
Springfield N/A $54,990
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Carmel 2940 $50,190
Indianapolis 2940 $50,190
Anderson 2940 $50,190
Fort Wayne 380 $50,650
Goshen 200 $46,800
Elkhart 200 $46,800
Bloomington 170 $41,770
Terre Haute 110 $39,850
West Lafayette 90 $52,670
Lafayette 90 $52,670
Columbus 70 $42,690
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Des Moines 530 $32,720
Des Moines 530 $32,720
Cedar Rapids 220 N/A
Iowa City 90 $43,310
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Wichita 730 $35,210
Topeka 260 $30,490
Lawrence 110 $41,250
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lexington 640 $31,100
Fayette 640 $31,100
Bowling Green 140 $20,680
Fort Knox 110 $39,570
Elizabethtown 110 $39,570
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
New Orleans 1700 $34,650
Metairie 1700 $34,650
Baton Rouge 1180 $28,820
Shreveport 730 $41,300
Bossier City 730 $41,300
Lake Charles 390 $28,780
Hammond 370 $27,020
Monroe 360 $23,390
Lafayette 220 $28,110
Alexandria 160 $27,150
Houma 110 $27,220
Thibodaux 110 $27,220
     
Metro Area (Maine) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Portland 730 $29,460
Portland 730 $29,460
Bangor 200 $37,280
Auburn 70 $38,510
Lewiston 70 $38,510
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 1890 $56,410
Columbia 1890 $56,410
Baltimore 1890 $56,410
     
Metro Area (Massachusetts) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Barnstable Town 540 $63,270
New Bedford 270 $57,070
Leominster 170 $45,320
Gardner 170 $45,320
Pittsfield 160 $41,160
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dearborn 2400 $49,140
Detroit 2400 $49,140
Warren 2400 $49,140
Grand Rapids 400 $49,410
Wyoming 400 $49,410
Lansing 360 $30,980
East Lansing 360 $30,980
Flint 280 $31,360
Battle Creek 240 $43,600
Ann Arbor 180 $50,220
Muskegon 140 $31,060
Niles 140 $36,690
Benton Harbor 140 $36,690
Jackson 70 $50,620
Monroe 60 $53,880
Saginaw N/A $42,000
     
Metro Area (Minnesota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
St. Cloud 90 $32,940
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jackson 520 $25,940
Gulfport 500 $37,830
Pascagoula 500 $37,830
Biloxi 500 $37,830
Hattiesburg 130 $26,530
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 550 $36,720
Columbia 140 $36,470
Joplin 130 $29,650
Jefferson City 100 $30,580
     
Metro Area (Montana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Great Falls 70 $49,150
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 1110 $65,780
Henderson 1110 $65,780
Las Vegas 1110 $65,780
Reno 320 $46,770
     
Metro Area (New Hampshire) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Manchester 190 $53,970
     
Metro Area (New Jersey) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Trenton 480 $83,490
Atlantic City 340 $85,930
Hammonton 340 $85,930
Ocean City 70 $77,440
Bridgeton 40 $50,280
Vineland 40 $50,280
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 740 N/A
Santa Fe 140 $29,730
Las Cruces 120 $35,420
Farmington 70 $34,380
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Niagara Falls 780 $65,980
Buffalo 780 $65,980
Cheektowaga 780 $65,980
Rochester 640 $70,440
Syracuse 330 $53,310
Albany 250 $52,600
Troy 250 $52,600
Schenectady 250 $52,600
Rome 150 $53,150
Utica 150 $53,150
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Raleigh 1460 $34,680
Greensboro 1450 $37,880
High Point 1450 $37,880
Salem 990 $26,760
Winston 990 $26,760
Fayetteville 770 $27,560
Asheville 760 $28,390
Durham 660 $37,750
Chapel Hill 660 $37,750
Hickory 630 $24,270
Lenoir 630 $24,270
Morganton 630 $24,270
Wilmington 450 $33,010
Burlington 260 $27,230
Jacksonville 250 $34,670
Rocky Mount 210 $27,740
New Bern 150 $43,520
Greenville 130 $37,440
Goldsboro 90 $38,990
     
Metro Area (North Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bismarck 80 $45,800
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbus 3590 $58,600
Elyria 3570 $50,070
Cleveland 3570 $50,070
Dayton 1500 $33,420
Akron 1460 $46,220
Toledo 840 $51,280
Canton 430 $28,210
Massillon 430 $28,210
Mansfield 300 $33,260
Lima 190 $49,540
Springfield 170 $26,990
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Oklahoma City 1290 $54,890
Tulsa 980 $38,490
Lawton 110 $32,250
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Eugene 350 $59,100
Salem 270 $66,370
Medford 170 $74,640
Redmond 160 $53,930
Bend 160 $53,930
Albany 110 $70,620
Corvallis 40 $72,930
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 780 $56,730
Barre 350 $54,500
Hazleton 350 $54,500
Wilkes 350 $54,500
Scranton 350 $54,500
Harrisburg 300 $45,820
Carlisle 300 $45,820
Hanover 140 $54,700
York 140 $54,700
Lebanon 30 $50,120
     
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Caguas 1500 $25,780
Carolina 1500 $25,780
San Juan 1500 $25,780
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
North Charleston 1110 $34,820
Charleston 1110 $34,820
Mauldin 1090 $32,010
Greenville 1090 $32,010
Anderson 1090 $32,010
Columbia 720 $30,780
Spartanburg 520 $26,420
Bluffton 480 $44,910
Beaufort 480 $44,910
Hilton Head Island 480 $44,910
Florence 150 $24,430
     
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rapid City 190 $34,360
Sioux Falls 190 $51,600
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Murfreesboro 1230 $41,010
Franklin 1230 $41,010
Davidson 1230 $41,010
Nashville 1230 $41,010
Knoxville 900 $33,470
Jackson 180 $31,270
Johnson City 130 $40,130
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Arlington 8110 $52,910
Dallas 8110 $52,910
Fort Worth 8110 $52,910
Houston 6480 $46,190
Sugar Land 6480 $46,190
The Woodlands 6480 $46,190
New Braunfels 2770 $59,460
San Antonio 2770 $59,460
Austin 2070 $51,120
Round Rock 2070 $51,120
Corpus Christi 650 $46,000
Killeen 640 $42,460
Temple 640 $42,460
Mission 490 $31,720
Edinburg 490 $31,720
McAllen 490 $31,720
Port Arthur 440 N/A
Beaumont 440 N/A
Brownsville 370 $56,910
Harlingen 370 $56,910
Tyler 310 $33,840
Longview 280 $51,950
Bryan 230 $47,410
College Station 230 $47,410
Waco 180 $43,800
Sherman 80 $43,310
Denison 80 $43,310
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 860 $40,850
Clearfield 770 $30,310
Ogden 770 $30,310
Provo 440 $25,850
Orem 440 $25,850
St. George 110 $28,560
     
Metro Area (Vermont) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Burlington 60 $44,280
Burlington 60 $44,280
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 1730 $52,530
Roanoke 400 $42,760
Staunton 180 $30,280
Waynesboro 180 $30,280
Lynchburg 170 $45,230
Charlottesville 120 $32,260
Blacksburg 70 $24,320
Radford 70 $24,320
Christiansburg 70 $24,320
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Seattle 4030 $79,640
Tacoma 4030 $79,640
Bellevue 4030 $79,640
Spokane Valley 700 $67,310
Spokane 700 $67,310
Richland 290 $69,380
Kennewick 290 $69,380
Silverdale 270 $78,640
Bremerton 270 $78,640
Bellingham 230 $68,680
Yakima 180 $43,020
Mount Vernon 160 N/A
Anacortes 160 N/A
Walla Walla 160 $26,920
Olympia 160 $55,090
Tumwater 160 $55,090
Wenatchee 150 N/A
Longview 60 $61,330
     
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charleston 230 $36,260
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Waukesha 1590 N/A
West Allis 1590 N/A
Milwaukee 1590 N/A
Madison 1150 $28,010
Green Bay 640 $40,230
Oshkosh 360 $31,630
Neenah 360 $31,630
Appleton 320 $21,020
Racine 320 $59,360
Eau Claire 180 $30,540
Janesville 150 $29,310
Beloit 150 $29,310
Fond du Lac 110 $34,090
Sheboygan 90 $49,490
Wausau N/A $29,000
     
Metro Area (Wyoming) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Cheyenne 170 $44,730

Most Popular Industries for :
Fire Fighters

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

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Government 288,180 99% $44,700
These schools offer particularly quick info upon request, and we have written detailed profiles for each (click school names to see the profiles). Request info from multiple schools, by clicking the Request Info links.
 
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CityTownInfo Career and College Resources

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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