The primary duty of a firefighter is to save lives, protect property, and serve the community. As you gain more experience there will be other job opportunities within the fire department. Other roles and additional responsibilities can include the following:
Driver/operator – drive the fire truck (apparatus) to onsite emergency , operation of fire pumps and aerial ladders. This can be a full time role in some fire departments or rotated among firefighters.
Company officer – normally a captain or lieutenant responsible for the apparatus, and leads the on shift team both at the fire department and onsite emergency. The officer is normally tasked with initial fire planning, safety, and general activities of firefighters on the apparatus.
Incident commander – responsible for management of all incident operations and onsite emergencies. After overall strategy is determined this role is normally assumed by the battalion or district chief
Fire marshal/fire inspector – surveys local businesses and residences and enforces public safety and fire codes.
Safety officer – monitors overall operations to ensure safe practices. The safety officer may halt firefighting operations, until unsafe practices are corrected. Senior ranking officer may also take this role or until another officer is assigned these duties.
Training officer – responsible for training new and updating existing firefighters when required.
Dispatcher – takes calls from public, dispatches emergency response units, provides callers with medical information until emergency response units arrives.
Fire apparatus maintenance – responsible for maintaining and repairing fire apparatus and EMS vehicles. Equipment manufacturers normally provide training to firefighter of equipment including engines, aerial ladders, and fire pumps.
Fire protection engineer – reviews building and sprinkler plans to ensure they are constructed and installed to code. This type of function normally requires an engineering degree.
Hazardous material (HAZMAT) response – specialist trained to identify hazardous materials, control spills, extinguish fires, decontamination, and clean-up.
Scuba dive rescue – fire departments near large bodies of water may have scuba dive and rescue companies. Firefighters are trained to use SCUBA apparatus for search and rescue operations in lakes and any other waterways including under ice.
If you’re ambitious, take advantage of learning and training as much as possible within your organization. The fire service offers many opportunities during your career as a firefighter. You should always look for ways to improve your skills.