Being a firefighter isn’t just holding a hose and putting out a fire. There is so much more involved and one’s personality plays a big part. As a firefighter, you will be called upon to tackle various emergency situations where your problem-solving skills and initiative will be vital to resolve issues quickly and calmly. Incidents vary from tackling fires and rescuing people from burning buildings to dealing with chemical spillages and Road Traffic Collisions (RTCs). There will be times when you will be the ‘life-line’ for people in distress.

A sensitive approach is required when dealing with members of the public, who may be distressed and confused. People who have been involved in a fire or a traffic accident need special care and a soft touch. You may find them in shock due to what they have experienced. As a firefighter, you may be used to fires and accidents, but you must remember that the people involved in the incident may have never experienced anything like this before.

Today’s firefighter also works closely with the community to increase their level of awareness and to help prevent incidents from occurring in the first place. Fire prevention is an issue that is best taught by you, the professional firefighter. These additional roles of a firefighter are integral to the profession.

These additional roles include educating the community in preventing fire and accidents from occurring in the first place. This is done by visiting schools, community centres, businesses and people in their own homes. It also includes advising people about planning escape routes within their own homes and businesses in case of a fire.

Actively seeking to understand and to value diverse individuals and groups in your community helps firefighters better communicate and cater to them. Good communication skills are important to being able to communicate effectively to schools, community groups, volunteer organisations and others, as is treating people with dignity and respect regardless of their background or culture.

Certain personal attributes are needed in the role of firefighter. These include confidence, resilience, adaptability, ability to communicate effectively, integrity, as well as having a commitment to diversity. The role of the firefighter is continually changing as new techniques and equipment are introduced. As well as responding to emergencies, firefighters are expected to work closely with the community.

As a firefighter you will be expected to undertake a continuous training program by attending lectures, exercises, practical training sessions and other forms of training to maintain competence levels. You will be expected to take responsibility for developing your own skills and ensuring that your fitness levels are maintained as the work can be demanding, both physically and mentally.

Becoming a firefighter in the fire and rescue service does not come easily. In fact, many serving firefighters have spent months and years applying and preparing themselves prior to application. You too must be prepared to work hard and also be patient if you are to pursue a career within the fire and rescue service. To be successful in the process, you need to be one step ahead of the next candidate, and be better prepared than they are. The fire and rescue service only take on the best, so those who have put the work in, will be more likely to be rewarded by the offer of places on recruitment courses.