Firefighter

Meet Sheri. She's been a Firefighter for 14 years.

Firfighter

Job Summary

Although my job title is Firefighter, public safety better summarizes what I do. Firefighters assist across several aspects of public safety:

  • Health: an example of this could be assisting someone who's had a heart attack.
  • Physical: an example here could be assisting someone who's fallen from a roof or been in a car accident.
  • Fire: fighting residential or commercial property fires.

Mainly due to the advancement of residential and commercial building codes, 90% of what I do is non-fire related.

Career Path

Before becoming a Firefighter, I had a personal training business. I started the business because I loved fitness, and I still do, but eventually, the idea of being a Firefighter was much more appealing than continuing to run my business.

It was a long-time friend who encouraged me to pursue or at least consider firefighting. This went on for a couple of years (thanks, Keith). He was persistent and insistent that I at least take a few steps to learn more about it. After all of this, I decided to attend an open house, and it was there that I knew firefighting was for me.

One key aspect of my decision to become a Firefighter was opportunity. There are several different career paths available to Firefighters: paramedic, pump operator, driver engineer, lieutenant, captain, battalion chief.

Key Skills

Hard Skills

  • Fire science
  • EMT
  • The job demands physical fitness
  • Report writing

Soft Skills

  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Patience
  • Composure

Work/Life Balance

My work schedule is 24 hours on, 24 hours off, 24 hours back on, 24 hours off, 24 hours on, and then four full days off before starting the cycle again.

Just like any other job, there are pros and cons to a Firefighter's schedule. I've always enjoyed the consistency of having big chunks of time off. Now, I did miss some of my kids' games when they were young and some holidays, but my husband was a teacher at the time, so the flexibility really worked well for us.

Pay

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national estimate (US) for Firefighters is $49,080 annually (median). National wage estimates by percentile:

10th percentile 25th percentile 50th percentile 75th percentile 90th percentile
$24,490 $33,400 $49,080 $66,610 $83,570

Career Advice

It would have been difficult to make the transition to firefighting without a friend encouraging and guiding me along the way. I wouldn't have known the details of physical testing. I wouldn't have known which tests were necessary. If you're considering becoming a Firefighter, proactively seek out information and guidance early in the process. Visit your local fire department, join a ride-along, ask questions to those already doing what you want to do.

I would also highly recommend you get your Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certificate. This is a must-have, and many community colleges will offer the program.