Firefighters are trained professionals who specialise in fighting and controlling fires, search and rescue operations and other related activities where significant loss or damage to life and property is imminent.
Firefighters don’t just brandish hoses, spray water around and rescue people from towering infernos; they also educate the general public about fires and other hazards, and explain how to avoid causing fires.
Furthermore, these guys help commercial organisations to understand health and safety regulations relating to fire drills and other procedures.
The UK’s brave firefighters don’t just respond to incidents involving fire; they also provide essential emergency assistance during floods, bomb threats and accidents involving cars, trains and aeroplanes.
In order to be as effective as possible, firefighters have to undergo continuous training exercises, execute emergency drills and maintain peak levels of health and physical fitness.
Furthermore, they have to maintain and repair the fire engines and specialist equipment that they use, such as hoses, fire hydrants and protective clothing.
Senior firefighters will also be in charge of allocating specific tasks in hazardous situations in order to deal with things in the most efficient way possible.
Training tends to focus on mock rescue and firefighting exercises, development of driving skills and route planning.
Salary & benefits
Salary levels are determined by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU). Trainee firefighters receive £21,369 per annum or £9.76 an hour. Once they are regarded as competent, their salaries increase to £28,481 or £13 an hour.
Crew managers receive £30,271 per annum or £13.82 an hour whilst they are developing. Once they are regarded as competent, their salaries increase to £31,576 or £14.42 an hour.
Watch managers receive £32,259 per annum or £14.73 an hour whilst they are developing. Once they are regarded as competent, their salaries increase to £35,311 or £16.12 an hour.
Station managers receive £36,729 per annum or £16.77 an hour whilst they are developing. Once they are regarded as competent, their salaries increase to £40,510 or £18.50 an hour.
Group managers receive £42,300 per annum or £19.32 an hour whilst they are developing. Once they are regarded as competent, their salaries increase to £46,892 or £21.41 an hour.
Area managers receive £49,659 per annum or £22.68 an hour whilst they are developing. Once they are regarded as competent, their salaries increase to £54,473 or £24.87 an hour.
All salary ranges listed above do not include overtime rates, which are higher than the rates paid for regular hours.
Firefighters are employed as full-time or retained personnel; the former are deployed in urban areas and are typical salaried employees, while the latter are based in rural areas and are employed on fixed-term contracts.
Firefighters spend an average of 40-45 hours a week working in planned shifts, since this is a 24/7 profession and crews are on duty at all times.
Understandably, this isn’t your average office job and you will be working in hazardous environments on a regular basis.
While graduates and diploma holders can apply for firefighting jobs, there are no minimum academic requirements required. Standard entry requirements are excellent health and physical fitness, basic GCSE-level education, including English, mathematics and scientific subjects.
Candidates should be over 18 years of age and must successfully complete various National Firefighter Ability (NFA) tests and the National Firefighter Questionnaire (NFQ).
You’ll need to do written tests, which include verbal and written exams and problem resolution assignments.
You’ll also have to do physical assessments, which are carried out in full uniform and firefighting gear. These assessments will test how well you can cope within confined, enclosed spaces and your ability to lift and carry heavy equipment, assemble firefighter equipment in emergency situations and evacuate survivors.
Training & progression
Your initial training is conducted over a period of around 15 weeks. This extensive development programme covers theoretical and practical learning.
Successful completion of initial training leads to a probationary period of around two years, which involves regular assessment of your skills and capabilities.
Upon completion, firefighters work on a full-time basis and are required to meet continual professional development and training requirements as regulated by the Fire Brigades Union.
As you progress in your career, you may choose to specialise in emergency and disaster recovery management, training new recruits, specialist rescue work or independent consulting on hazardous materials and environments.