Firefighters work as part of a team responding to fires or other emergencies. Besides fires, they can be called out to deal with emergencies such as road, rail and air accidents. They also rescue people and animals from dangerous situations.
Once a fire has been dealt with, firefighters are responsible for clearing up and checking that the site is safe. They may have to write reports, which are used by accident investigators or insurance companies.
Fire prevention is an important part of the work and may mean inspecting public buildings, advising on fire safety measures and giving talks and demonstrations.
Routine duties at the fire station are also part of the job. These include: practice drills, and cleaning, maintaining and checking vehicles and equipment.
Firefighters work a 42-hour week, on a rotating shift pattern to cover days, nights and weekends. If there is a major fire or emergency they may be required to work overtime.
Part-time or retained firefighters work a fixed number of hours’ training duty at a fire station each week, and are on standby for emergencies.
Firefighters work in all weathers and conditions. They can often be working in cramped spaces and at heights; moreover, sometimes the work can be dangerous.
To be a firefighter, you should:
The Fire Authority for Northern Ireland is responsible for providing fire cover throughout Northern Ireland. There are approximately 900 full-time and 1,100 part-time firefighters.
There are some jobs with the British Airports Authority plc, which operates fire service units at several airports, and the Ministry of Defence employs some civilian firefighters.
There is a lot of competition for jobs. All vacancies are advertised in the press, and application forms are only given out when vacancies have been advertised.Above the rank of station officer, vacancies are advertised throughout the service, and anyone with the appropriate qualifications can apply.
Firefighters qualify after four years’ experience. During this time, you will be encouraged to sit exams for promotion to leading firefighter or sub-officer.
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