What is a Firefighter?
Everyone knows a firefighter puts out fires. But not everyone is aware of how extensively many firefighters are trained to help injured people. In brief, a firefighter (historically fireman) is a rescuer extensively trained in firefighting, primarily to extinguish hazardous fires that threaten property and civilian or natural populations.
But they also rescue people from dangerous situations, like collapsed or burning buildings or crashed vehicles. In some areas, they are also trained in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and operate ambulances in addition to being a firefighter. In other words, if you want to become a firefighter, you will want to have a purpose to help people.
Let’s look at some paths that can give you a head start towards a career as a firefighter.
The Fire Explorer Program is designed for young adults between the ages of 15 – 21 who are interested in learning about a career in the fire service. Fire Explorers participate in community service projects, competitions, fundraisers, and other activities throughout the year. Additionally, the Explorer Program provides young adults with a sense of responsibility to their neighborhood through ongoing community-related activities.
Fire Cadets and Junior Firefighters
The Fire Cadet Program (sometimes called the Junior Firefighter Program), also provides opportunities to learn about being a firefighter, with an emphasis on teaching teamwork, community involvement, pride, leadership and respect for the environment. Through Fire Science classes and practical training, Fire Cadets learn basic firefighting skills as well as how to apply those skills and values into daily activities. They might also go on outings and camping trips organized by the Cadet leaders.
The Cadets are also encouraged to participate in a ride-along program. This helps Cadets gain real-world experience as they observe firefighters and assist the Department in a non-hazardous capacity.
Fire Cadets Program started in 1983 in California, for youth between age 16 to 21, who are interested in learning about a career in Fire Suppression and Emergency Medical Services. This program is not intended to be a direct recruiter of future firefighters, but rather gives young men and women an inside look into the Fire and Emergency Medicine profession.
Fire Explorer and Fire Cadet Differences
Fire Explorer programs fall under Learning for Life, a part of the Boy Scout Association, which provides insurance coverage for the Explorers and provide guidelines for program advisors.
The true basis of an Explorer program is to show teens and young adults about the job and career of a firefighter and if it would be a career choice for them. They are there to observe and not be utilized as a firefighter.
Fire Cadets and Junior Firefighters are based within specific fire departments, which set their own rules and as such are also liable for the cadets. The participants may be able to gain a bit more hands on experience with the equipment.
Please note that activities and age requirements may vary in different parts of the United States and different parts of the world. Check with your local fire department for details.
Fire Explorer and Fire Cadet Similarities
Both the Fire Explore and Fire Cadets programs offer opportunities for teenagers to become acquainted with fire fighting and emergency medical services. Both have a purpose to help youth decide whether they want to pursue a career in fire suppression and Emergency Medical Services. Also, neither offers an advantage in terms of actually gaining employment as a firefighter. In other words, both can help a teenager decide if he/she would like to pursue a firefighting career, but neither can assure that you will get a job in such a role.
The Fire Explorer and Fire Cadet Programs consists of academic and physical training conducted by the Fire Department along with community partners.
Becoming a Firefighter
It should be emphasized that anyone who wants to become firefighter must take fire technology classes, understand all the phases of the firefighter hiring process, gain some life experience and learn as much as possible about fire service. In some fire departments, a college degree is required. Also, modern fire departments require personnel to be well trained in basic first aid.
We’ll visit some additional information about becoming a firefighter in upcoming articles. However, just like it’s mentioned in the “5 Guidelines To Becoming a Firefighter,” you are urged to visit your local fire station and ask for a tour. It’s one of the best things you can do if you wish to become a firefighter. Be sure to ask if your local fire department has a Fire Explorer, Fire Cadet or any other program for you to learn more about firefighting and emergency medical services.