The role of a firefighter has drastically changed over the last 10 years. While fighting fires and attending road traffic collisions are still important aspects of the role, more time is now spent on fire prevention and educating the public. The role of a firefighter is now more geared towards a proactive role, rather than reactive.
Things that you can expect to do on a day to day basis are:
The first thing a firefighter will do at the start of their shift is Parade. This involves lining up, making sure everyone who should be there, is there, and being assigned your role for the day. BA, casualty carer, driver etc.
After drills, the next job is to check all of their equipment. This involves everything from checking it’s actually there, to carrying out checks to sure the equipment functions as it should do. You do not want to turn up to a job, only to find a vital piece of equipment missing or broken.
If you’re allocated as a BA wearer for the day, you would run standard checks on the BA equipment. If you’re allocated as a driver, you would ensure all the lights are working, the horns/sirens functioning as needed and all the oil and fuel levels are correct.
Once parade and equipment checks are done, the day can then vary between some or all of the following.
Firefighters are constantly learning and training. It’s something you’ll learn to love and sometimes maybe hate. You’ll do a lot of hose running, putting up ladders and simulating property fires. Sometimes it will be physical training and other times it may be more ‘classroom’ orientated.
Firefighters need a lot more knowledge than just putting out fires. You’ll learn about the risks/dangers of all sorts of things, including radiation, flooding and electricity etc. All these things could be part of incidents you attend and you need to know what you’re up against.
The training a firefighter gains in their careers, changes on a regular basis as new technology and our understanding of things improve. Technology is likely going to have the biggest impact on how firefighters operate on incidents in the coming years.
Home Fire Safety Checks/Safe and Well Visits
Fire services have learned over the years that fire prevention is vital to keeping a community safe. Due to the this, fire services provide some sort of home fire safety check or safe and well visit. The naming can vary from service to service.
This involves going into peoples home and providing fire safety advice and fitting smoke alarms where required. These visits can also be used as an interagency effort to help lower and prevent things like hoarding, domestic abuse and child abuse victims by informing other agencies of concerns during these visits.
You need to maintain a decently high fitness level so exercising during shift is a great way to keep on top of this. Entering a property, in full fire kit and carrying a BA (breathing apparatus) on your back, takes a lot of mental and physical effort.
Even the most basic of tasks can have you sweating while wearing fire kit, so you need to know your physically capable of the job.
Shouts / Calls
Responding to 999 calls, or shouts as we often call them, are what most people join the fire service for. This can be to a property fire, flooding or myriad of other things. I’ve purposefully put shouts/calls at the bottom of the list, because it’s important that people understand that responding to calls, is only a small part of the overall role you play as a firefighter.
Many people join the fire service thinking they will be responding to fire calls on a near-daily basis. This may have been true in the past, but is no longer the case. You have to join the role knowing that things like home fire safety checks and community engagement and coming a vital part of the role.
Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service have created a ‘day in the life of a firefighter’ video which gives you a general idea of what you can expect to do on a day-to-day basis.