Why Would Anyone Want To Be A Firefighter? Why would a person decide to become a firefighter is not an easy question to answer. Until you have been a firefighter and experienced it first hand, you can not really grasp the reality of all the feelings that come with the job. Have you ever done something nice for someone and got that feeling inside? The one that makes you feel like you are flying? You feel all warm and fuzzy inside and can't really explain why? Well, that's why those dedicated to the fire service stay. Try to imagine the way you would feel if you just saved a life or rescued someone you did not even know for any other reason than they needed help. Can you imagine how great you would feel for doing it? This is what the firefighter feels each time a life is saved or a home is stopped from burning. Being a firefighter is a very stressful and dangerous job to say the least but it is in this that many thrives. Not everyone can take on such a job and see it through making it a lifelong career. Many have tried it just to see if they would like it bunt the real dedicated heroes of the fire service know from the first moment they choose this way of life that they will never be the same again. There lives will forever be entwined in the fire service and even if they choose to leave the service, they will always be a part of it in their hearts and minds. If you are thinking about being a professional firefighter, you need to realize that if you are looking for a good paying job, this is not it. You will do alright with the salary offered but by no means will you become wealthy from it. Knowing this only reinforces the dedication that is needed to the job. If you are looking for a job that offers a low stress rate, firefighting is not what you want. To be in the fire services, you need to be able to handle high stress, low sleep, and situations that are going to press some nerves. It is especially nice when it is 3:00 Am and it is snowing outside and you get a call for someone who upon arriving on the scene was only lonely and not really sick. You feel for them but the stress and warm cozy bed back at the station can really get you aggravated about it all. If you are already high strung, maybe a nice desk job is what you want. The risks of injury and death are high for those choosing the fire services as their career. Many deaths occur as a result of the job they perform each and every day. Heath related risks are also a real possibility from the exposure to all types of chemicals. With this in mind, again I ask, "Why would anyone want to be a firefighter?" I guess my answer to you would be that along with the all these negative traits of the fire services, the faithful men and women who have made the choice to do what they do each and every day are there because they love what they do. They love being able to help when no one else can. What other job can you do that is total service tot someone else each time you go to work. This is a big part of the love of the firefighter to their profession. Now, I guess the only thing that remains to ask is, "Why do you want to be a firefighter?" A Firefighter's Character When we think of firefighters we think of regular people who are doing a great service for our community but did you ever stop to think about what kind of traits and characteristic that person has to have to do a great job? Not everyone can do the job or has what it takes to even try. What is it that makes a firefighter great? The five main traits are: being able to be resourceful, honesty, being resilient, being able to be flexible, and to be motivated tot do the job. Being a true firefighter comes from the inside out not the other way around. A firefighter must be honest with others and also with their inner self. It seems implied that the general thought of a firefighter does not include those stealing items from the home of the fire nor from the firehouse. Inner honesty comes when an individual can be honest with themselves about who they really are. They are able to face their shortcomings as well as their strengths and use both to the best of their ability. Being honest about not being superheroes could very well stop a disaster from happening. When you think you are invincible, there is always one situation that will show you your not. You also need to realize that you are not going to be able to save all those people you try to help. At some point you will loose one of them and it is better to face that fact now then when it comes face to face with you. Trust and honesty is also a bonding agent with those whom you work with every day. You need to be able to trust your fellow firefighters with your life. Resourcefulness, resiliency, having flexibility, and motivation all fall under the heading of how to do your job better. No fireman ever said they had to miss a fire because they had other plans. I am sure many wives will attest to the fact that the dedication can sometimes go far beyond working hours. Bing resourceful comes in handy when you are faced with a situation and the conventional tools and methods are just not working or unavailable. There are some times when improvisation may be necessary and this requires a fast way of thinking. Let's say you ran out of splints because of the number of patients at an accident scene. You need to think of something quickly and resourcefulness will provide the sticks and fabric you need to create a homemade version. Motivation is the best trait to get you going each and every time you have a call. Without it, there would be nothing left to go to work each day. All five traits are important tot ht firefighter and a successful career. The top of the list has to be honesty. The rest of the four traits are superficial to this one. Honesty is not a luxury in this field but a requirement and a very necessary one. To be honest, you need to be able to trust yourself and to gain trust from the patient as well as fellow firefighters. If you think you have the traits you need to be a successful firefighter, maybe a firefighting career is for you to consider. What Is It Like To Be A Firefighter? Fire statistics are given to us through television, newspapers, radio, and other media sources. It is apparent the damage that fire can cause when left to its own devices. This is why firefighters are so important to the community. Fire fighters are usually the first face to respond to any time of emergency. They not only help to remove people who are trapped in burning structures, they also help with medical emergencies, car accidents, and many other situations. When they are not treating a patient or putting out a fire, they are cleaning the equipment and making sure all the items they need are in proper working order. Constant training is needed to make sure their skills are up to date with new equipment and techniques. They work together as a team and go where many others do not even dare to tread. Each team member has a different responsibility. You have regular firefighters, fire marshals, those who inspect buildings for fire safety, those who teach and train other firefighters, and those that are trained in search and rescue techniques. Smokejumpers are sent to fire situations by helicopter or plane and jump to the fire. The firefighter is one that needs to stay in shape for the work they must do. The need to be physically fit to withstand the elements of the fire and also the stress associated with the emergency situations that arise. While on duty, they stay in the fire station. For those with a specialty in the fire service, they may not be assigned to a regular station but stay for duty at an airport facility or a factory facility. Hours of duty usually mean they pull shifts of three days on and four days off. Then it switches to four days on and three days off. This provides at least 40 to 50 hours each week of work. Each shift runs about ten or twelve hours each time. While at the fire station, they live like anyone would at their own homes being able to eat, sleep, shower, and watch television when they are not working on the trucks and equipment or responding to calls. Fire marshals and fire investigators usually do not respond to regular calls and will work from an office. Fire inspectors ensure the buildings in the area are up to code and are being run by the laws set to ensure fire safety. Firefighters wear different types of gear to provide protection to them while they are in a fire or dangerous situations. The biggest piece of gear essential tot the firefighter is the turn out gear. This provides fire and glass protection from head to toe when combined with a pair of gloves, boots and a helmet. Turn out gear is very heavy and very hot. In the summer time it can be a hundred degrees inside the turn out gear. This is why it is so important for the firefighter to be in top condition physically. A firefighter's salary runs about $35,000 to $60,000 a year. Some specialty firefighters use make as much as $75,000 a year but have undergone extensive training and are put into extremely dangerous situations. The amount of jobs for firefighting is expected to rise in the future and there will be more positions opening up for anyone who wants to make this their full time career. Requirements To Become A Firefighter If you are interested in becoming a firefighter, you need to be aware of the requirements for the job. These will, of course, differ from state to state, sometimes from town to town as well. Although there are differences, these general guidelines listed below will give you an idea of what you can expect. The most general age is usually at least 18 years of age, but there are some fire departments that allow 17 year olds to apply. The age listed on some applications as maximum age for applying is 29 years old. Your local fire department will have their age limits listed on their application forms. Most fire departments require each applicant to at least possess a high school diploma, or a GED. This is accepted as general practice in most states, and most usually is understood. This is a basis to work from when applying for continuing education specialized in your chosen field. There are some fire departments that require the applicant to have already attended different courses and to have acquired special education in fire fighting. Some fire departments require the applicant to have acquired EMT-Basic, EMT-1 or equivalent skills for the position you are applying to fill. If you have successfully completed your EMT-1 or higher, you should be registered with the NREMT (National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians). For those that require additional training, prior to hiring, you will need to show proof of having obtained certification from the Approved Fire Fighter Training program. Some fire departments name a clear driving record as mandatory, and require the applicant to possess a valid and current driver's license with a clear driving record. Some states go back 3 - 5 years on the driving record concerning points and the reason you received them. It stands to reason that there must be no convictions for criminal offenses, especially for anything in relation to the job of an emergency worker. The applicant must show excellent physical fitness, and a physical assessment is mandatory during the recruitment process. You will also undergo a medical exam under the respective fire departments physician. Your vision is a necessity, and in most cases, they prefer you to have above average vision, unaided/uncorrected. Color vision as well as peripheral vision is also tested, along with your hearing, which must also be unaided. You as the applicant are generally preferred to reside in the county in which you are applying. You must definitely reside in the state. The following are some qualifications you may want to attempt to obtain; these will escalate the worth of your application, and show you are already immersed in the world of firefighting. This is done by either volunteering or working during or after high school in career related fields. For instance, first aid work and/or training, driving large trucks or even emergency vehicles, any form of medical training or work. Completing any academic or trade program in your intended field is a benefit toward applying for a job as a firefighter, and be prepared to have a copy of your transcripts on hand. Most fire departments are particular in the applicants they choose for recruitment, and hiring. This is because there is a lot of stress and trust put on these men and women that make it to the final selection round. It takes someone physically strong and able, as well as emotionally and mentally strong. The stress alone is enough to bring a strong man to his knees, add to that, the fact that each call could be the last, or the fact that you could be facing long term health issues just from breathing the air around you at the scene of a fire. This and more are reasons that most people have no desire to be firefighters, however, there are a select few that make it all the way and become every little boys dream -- a firefighter. What You Need To Become A Firefighter If you are truly interested in the fire service, there are a few things you need to pass in order to do so. There is training, the application process, background check, physicals, and the health exam to name a few. Each department and county may have its own special requirements for those wanting to apply for a position as a full time firefighter. Most of the guidelines fall within about the same range as the other departments does. Once you have completed all the formalities of being able to join, you must complete the fire academy for your training. Being certified to fight fire is necessary or you could be putting not only your life at risk but also the lives of others. Let's take a look at some of the things you will need to become a successful firefighter. The first thing is the application process itself. You can expect to undergo some of the same things as if you were trying to apply for any other type of job. A background check and criminal history will be done to ensure you have a clean history with the law and to make sure you have never been convicted of arson or other fire related crimes. Many arsonists start out as firefighters. Also, a clean background check and criminal history will provide the public with a safe environment. Most of the time you are also required to pass a physical exam to ensure good health and also a psychological exam to make sure you are up to the task of facing the stresses of the job. Once you have passed the application process, you are now ready to learn the essentials of being a good firefighter at the fire academy. The fire academy is the place where all the new recruits or applicants will learn about fire and the different techniques in fighting the fire. You can learn how to use the equipment properly and to carry out complicated rescue procedures. The most essential training you will receive is on the behavior and science of fire. You can not fight something you do not know about. Once you begin to understand the makeup and actions a fire will take, putting it out will be made much simpler. When you have completed the training at the fire academy, you may be placed in a fire department to get the hands on experience you need. This may be without pay until you can show you are ready to be hired on full time or until a position opens for you. Most of the time, there is a waiting list of those who have finished the academy and are waiting to be hired professionally. Now that you have finished the application process and finished the fire academy, you are a firefighter of sorts. You now have the certification you need to recognize as having the training as a firefighter. What are most important are the inner qualities that you will never learn in school. These are the positive traits needed to be a firefighter like honesty, patience, dedication, love of the job and now you has everything you need to say with confidence that you are a firefighter and just maybe a pretty good one at that. Firefighting: The Tools of the Trade. There are many different tools and pieces of equipment used by firefighters today. Some of these pieces of equipment rarely see the light of day, and others rarely see any rest. We will discuss the tools of the trade in the next part of the article. The helmet, face mask, and /or visor are specially designed to protect the firefighters' head from any hard objects that might fall on them, and the visor helps to protect the eyes from any flying debris. Turn-Out gear, also included is a turnout jacket and pants - the term 'turn-out' comes from the fact that the jacket and pants were most usually kept by the fireman's bunk to be ready at a moment's notice. They are sometimes still referred to as such, or merely the jacket and pants. Certified NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), fire retardant gloves specially designed for the sole job of firefighting are also a necessary part of the whole outfit. Fire resistant, water-resistant chemical and pathogen retardant boots, sporting complete steel sole and steel toe complete the gear and provide the necessary protection on the outside of the body. Underneath the above mentioned pieces are a few others that will ensure not being burned by either the steam or fire? Special Carbon and Nomex hoods are capable of resistance to heat and flame, and are made out of a special material called meta aramid which is a form of para aramid kevlar. It was first produced by Dupont. Items that are needed but do not protect the firefighter from burns are used to provide the firefighter what is necessary to do his or her job correctly. The first of these items is the SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) is used for filtering the air that the firefighter breathes when working around a lot of smoke or noxious gasses. The PASS (Personal Alert Safety System) is worn by firefighters and is a tracking device that allows those not inside of the structure to track the movements of those wearing it. If a person becomes inactive for a specified amount of time or if they manually trigger the device, help will respond. A flashlight, hand held radio for communication purposes between firefighters, and a pager or receiver commonly used for sending alerts to firefighters not on site at the fire department are all as important as any other piece. The pagers receive a page if they are needed to respond to the emergency call. A Pike pole is a piece of equipment that is usually 6 - 10 feet in length and was originally used to pull down walls and ceilings to prevent the spread of fires. It is used for poking holes in walls to find hidden fires in walls or ceilings, as well as being used to break windows or pull things out of fires. A Halligan bar or multi purpose tool generally used for punching, twisting, prying, or striking is also an essential tool. This tool is made up of several different heads, such as a wedge, a claw end, and a crow bar type end. An authentic halligan bar is one solid tool, not made up of several heads welded on. In some of the larger departments a thermographic camera or a special camera that shows thermal imaging (infrared imaging) that is used inside structures to find victims not able to be seen, and for finding missing bodies in car wrecks if there are woods nearby. These are only just a few of the many tools and pieces of equipment that firefighters use when fighting fires. Just looking at the tools listed above, you get the feeling they carry a lot of extra weight, in gear and equipment alone, added to that, any air tanks they have to carry or additional ropes or hoses, as well as their own weight. It is no wonder they sometimes drop from sheer exhaustion. Each piece of equipment is vital, and nothing can be left behind. Although we might not understand all the uses nor needs they have, the firefighters are trained with all of the equipment they use, and their training is ongoing. Each fire department is constantly running drills as well as continuing courses on new equipment as well as teaching the best ways to use current accessories. As long as there is fire, there will be crises and the need for trained firefighters. Fire Investigation Once the fire department has put out the fire, the next team to go in is the fire investigation team. Their task to determine what happened to start the fire and from what direction the fire came from. They use a technique known as fire science to help in their investigation. In the United States, you need to hold a certification through the International Association of Arson investigators to be able to complete fire investigations. For those that choose to carry it to the next level. There is a national certification through the National Association of Fire Investigators. This group is made up of individuals who are professionals in the field of fire and explosives. Fire investigators can also become specialized by obtaining certain credentials in specific areas of vehicle investigations, explosives investigations, and also instructor certifications. Investigators will also find it useful to learn about many of the common appliances in the home, home construction basics, how humans behave, etc. Whatever form of fire investigation is chosen, the intricate details of the scene must be studied for an accurate ruling on the fires origin. It is very hard to investigate a fire. Fire investigation is considered to be one of the more difficult forms of crime scene investigation or forensic science. The difficult question to ask in fire situations is whether or not it is an actual crime scene. In most of the other types of crime scenes, the wrong doing is usually obvious providing a body, blood, or evidence of foul play. With a fire scene most of those indicators have been destroyed and the fire investigator is only able to use what is left. In a fire scene the main argument is about arson. The fire investigator must decide if the fire was started by an arsonist or by accident. To do this, the investigator must take all the evidence he has left and also look at the events leading up to the fire if they are available. A system is used by the investigator to determine the fires cause. It could almost be considered a specific scientific method. A highly skilled fire investigator should have other resources available for those scenes that require an expert on a certain subject. This means that an appliance may need to be looked into deeper and by someone qualified to make a judgment call on the working order of that appliance. In vehicle fires, it is also important to know if any part of the care was malfunctioning at the time of the fire. These things are all a part of the fire investigation and should be used when necessary. Five things need to be in place to conduct a proper investigation. The first is the assignment being given to the investigator and them knowing what they are needed to do. Next, planning comes in and the investigator must get together all the things they need such as tools, help needed, and equipment for fire determination. Third, the scene needs to be looked over and examined and any evidence needs to be collected. Fourth, the evidence collected is examined carefully, findings are written down, retested, and reevaluated for correct findings. Finally, the scientific method is used to determine the cause by whatever the findings are from the evidence. All this is the correct procedure of the fire investigator when using fire science.
Health Risks In Firefighting Standing a good chance of being burned, crushed, or killed are only a few of the risks that firefighters face at each call they respond to, but aside from these obvious risks, are some not so obvious ones that have long term, damaging effects in their lives concerning their health and length of life. To understand these risks we need to be aware of them and how they will ultimately affect our futures as well. Self preservation is perhaps the most critical skill these firefighters can learn. They are taught during their schooling and drills the importance of knowing where they are and the hazards surrounding them at all times. There are a few pieces of mandatory equipment to aid specifically in lessening their chances of developing long term problems. The first of these is their SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) which is used to filter the air around them in cases of high levels of carbon monoxide or gaseous air, as well as aiding in preventing smoke inhalation. The problem with these -- they are not, as with anything man made, 100% foolproof, meaning there is still going to be noxious gasses or smoke inhaled by the firefighter. The PASS (Personal Alert Safety System) is used primarily as a means of locating firefighters inside a burning structure if they have to cease movement for at certain period of time, or if manually deployed. It enables those outside to keep track of the movement of the workers inside, and to enter in and aid them if anyone needs it. Along with these are the personal self rescue ropes. These have proved invaluable of late, sadly too late for some. Two firefighters in New York lost their lives after jumping from a fourth story window to get out of the fire. Out of the four who jumped and somehow managed to survive the fall, just one of them had a self rescue rope. Following the incident, the city of New York has cleared the issue of mandatory self rescue ropes for all of their firefighters. Of all of the hazards they face in a day, you would think it hard to suffer from any vehicular related incidents, however, the opposite is true. At least a quarter of all of the deaths that occur to firefighters, in the United States, are accidents involving vehicles as they are either returning from a crisis or responding to one. There have also been far too many killed or injured during their work at an incident, by other vehicles. Following this is the most fatal hazard to most firefighters everywhere, heart disease. For some, this may come as a surprise, but for others it is only logical. Heart problems have long been associated with firefighting, and cardiac death is, shockingly, the primary cause of death for firefighters in relation to on-duty deaths statistics. There are other occupational hazards, such as carbon monoxide, and substances containing nitrogen and carbon, and hydrogen cyanide. Carbon monoxide is most usually found in most fires that occur, but hydrogen cyanide is a deadly gas created when plastics, cotton, paper, and other things that contain nitrogen and carbon in them, are on fire. These deadly gasses are supposedly filtered through the SCBA, but the inhalation of them retards the flow of oxygen in the body, possibly resulting in Hypoxia which ultimately can result in heart trouble. Smoke inhalation is another largely damaging hazard. Not only are the lungs effected, but also your heart and your body in a myriad of ways suffers from the smoke, and can result in atherosclerosis. Hypertension has also been attributed to firefighting, due to the noise and stress involved in any crisis. These situations call for speedy actions and quick decisions to be made. This can be draining emotionally as well as mentally and physically. Over-exertion can also result in problems with the heart, as some firefighters have a tendency to push themselves physically much farther than is wise. Are Emergency Workers Only Firefighters? Emergency worker is a term that covers such a multitude of job titles and descriptions. The United States government has a listing that defines the different classes of emergency workers and the general duties expected of them. This not, by any means, something for you to act off of, it is merely an article that attempts to educate people on the different labels for emergency workers, and how they relate in their jobs during disasters. Even before the onset of any disaster, you have to have Administration workers. These people manage the coordination of support activities as well as the recruiting and directing. Their job includes clerical, technical, and administrative duties among others. Pilots are another class of emergency workers that are a necessity. Without these brave men and women and their assistance by air, whether for search or rescue, there would be many more lives lost. The aviation workers are required to be licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration, and their aircraft must be approved by the FAA also. Communications workers involve those that set up communication posts in an emergency, and enable contact where there would normally be none. These people are knowledgeable in the laws governing state and local emergency communications directives. Those workers that carry the title of Engineering workers have a busy job that covers many branches of activity, such as, mechanical, structural, and mainly electrical engineering activities. They are the ones that are looked to for re-building both temporary shelters and permanent posts. Their job is to build where nothing is, as well as maintain roads, bridges, highways and streets. Fire Fighters are also emergency workers. They not only cover the fires that break out during disasters, but also handle some of the medical aspects as well as rescue missions. They are expected to educate the general public concerning fire safety and hazards, and heighten the awareness of the dangers of different types of fires. Although they are encouraged, volunteer fire fighters are not listed as emergency workers. General Emergency workers are perhaps the most chameleons like of the bunch. They are used where ever they are needed, but rarely specialize in any one type of emergency. If there is a flood, these workers are called to help bag sand for a temporary sand wall. They are required by law to register as temporary emergency workers each time they assist in a disaster. They are the ones that join in search parties, help handle casualties during a disaster, and work where ever they are needed most. Emergency workers that work with hazardous materials respond to incidents that require their help. These emergencies must follow the formerly coordinated and planned actions that have been approved by the local or state government concerning the handling of hazardous materials. Police and other law enforcement workers are responsible for upholding the laws that comply with state, local, and federal rulings. They are sworn to serve and protect the people in their communities to the best of their ability. Emergency workers that handle Mass care are the ones that help hand out food, clothes, and other simple necessities in the event of a disaster. They handle the planning of controlled evacuations, manage mass care centers, and provide as much help is possible for those that have survived through a disaster. As you can see, these are not all of the categories; however this number of them is certainly necessary. Emergency workers are, in essence, the very glue that holds our society together. With out them, we would lack order and discipline, health and safety. Supporting them and the difficult jobs they carry out is small in comparison to what they do for everyone else. Everyone, at some point in time in their lives, will need the aid or assistance of another person, and regardless of the disaster or circumstances, it is the emergency workers that provide us with exactly that. Fire Academies: Which Ones Pass the Test? As with any occupation, even firefighting has schooling and specialized training available for those interested in pursuing a career in firefighting. The difficult thing is finding the right academy, or the best academy to suit your goals. Depending on your location, here in the United States, you may want to consider an academy close to you, however, there are some that stand out and grab attention everywhere for their results as well as their excellent instruction. One such fire academy is located in San Diego county in California, proudly offering a highly acclaimed boot camp/instructional course, specializing in basic fire management/suppression, using portable pumps, water usage, an introduction into wildland fire behavior, basic training in fire details, and many more. This particular academy offers this specialized instruction in a boot camp atmosphere, using former Marine DI's (drill instructors) as the teachers. The course lasts a period of 21 days, and if successfully completed, assists the applicant in procuring an entry level job in firefighting. There daily training routines begin at 05:00 AM and usually end at 08:00 PM, except on days the are running night training exercises. This is not an academy for those that would like to drift through their schooling. To find an academy in your area, visit firejobs.com. They have user friendly menus that make finding any information concerning this topic and many others, a breeze. If you are simply researching these academies, you can get an address of one closest to you, by typing in the city you are looking for. If there is more than one academy in a state, it gives you a choice of which city. As informational websites go, this one is at the top of the list for contact information, and up-to-date information. They also offer a section of employment opportunities across the United States. This could prove invaluable for those of you who have already obtained certification in your course work, and are now searching for a job. Any of the fire academies you research, all require the applicants to be at least 17 to 18 years of age. This specific number differs from state to state, and is sometimes dependant on the type of job the applicant is interested in. You must have a valid high school diploma, or GED equivalent, as well as having in your possession a valid driver's license registered in the state in which you are currently residing. To get a better idea of what you can expect at a fire academy, and to even get advice on the best one to attend, try getting some information from your local fire department. Most of them allow you to apply as a firefighter without the higher education, but you are expected to follow through and your job duration is often dependant on whether or not you successfully pass the academy. If you have friends that are currently firefighters, this could prove invaluable toward gleaning good advice and information toward the best academy to attend. Do not be afraid to ask questions and get information. Your diligence can only add to your learning experience, and try not to underestimate people based on their age, sex, or rank. Everyone has something to teach you. Upon successfully completing the fire academy of your choice, you will need to keep a copy of your transcripts for this and, of course, any other specialized training, on hand to attach to your application when the time comes. All fire departments require proof of courses, certifications, and schooling completed prior to recruitment. By engaging in as much volunteer work as possible before you actually join the fire department, you will be increasing the level of your hands on experience, and the wealth of knowledge available. The internet puts a veritable wealth of information at your fingertips. Use it wisely, and find the information you need. As long as your age falls in the correct parameters, and you are physically fit, you could be well on your way to joining the fire department, and becoming a member of the brotherhood of firefighters. Women Firefighters: The Unsung Heroes Just passing the six year mark of the 9-11 terrorist attack in NYC, brings back to mind some of the devastation and heart ache we, as Americans suffered not so very long ago. Although it has been six years, in our hearts, the pain is sometimes as fresh as just the other day. There were so many innocent lives lost, and not all of them directly from the attack. Many lives were lost, during the rescue and excavation attempts as well. The many firefighters that responded as quickly as they were able to respond, saved numerous more lives that could have raised the death toll, that sad day. It is these firefighters that we turn our attention to now since many of them were women. Not once during the interviews and picture taking have I seen a female firefighter being addressed. Perhaps I have watched all the wrong channels, or read all the wrong newspapers. Just once I would like to make sure credit is given where credit is due. The women at Ground Zero, as well as women everywhere that have embraced firefighting, regardless of it being mostly a "man's world" have still to be recognized for their exemplary bravery as well as their untold sacrifices. Unknown to most people, women have been involved in firefighting for the past 200 years. That alone calls for attention, added to the fact that during World War II, the firefighting world was predominantly women, due to the fact that it was actually a necessity. Suffice it to say, when needed, women stand to take up the slack, and with the men off fighting the war, the women stood and took their places as bravely as the men. The first recorded female firefighter was Molly Williams, a slave in New York and from there on, women found their way into the fire departments and stood hand in hand with the men there, and working side by side to help save lives in whatever capacity arose. Too many fallen and wounded women have gone unnoticed. Most people are not even aware there are women firefighters, let alone ones that make a difference. These women are not just ordinary firefighters; some of them hold positions in command and carry their titles proudly. Where does this leave us today? Strong, brave, and true. Women everywhere are picking up the banner to support women firefighters, and keep them from fading into complete obscurity. The number of women firefighters continues to soar. Here in the United States, they claim 30 - 40, 000 in numbers. That number is far too large to not attract attention, but apparently there is no one interested in bringing it to light. That leaves it up to us to educate the younger generations, as well as the world today, about the women in firefighting. If we don't do it, who will? For women, it is merely an act of coming full circle, they give life to their children, and save lives as well. In some cases, the women that have bravely entered into firefighting, their jobs are a daily battle for them. Some of them suffer sexual harassment almost daily, as well as not being recognized as a competent firefighter. For some it has been an uphill battle, but they have fought long and hard to pave the way for those that might come behind, and perhaps make the road a bit easier to follow. They have fought against work place discrimination, improper gear and uniforms, as well as equal rights and opportunities. It is highly doubtful we will ever hear all of the stories that they have suffered through, but the ones we have heard make enough of an impact to give the desire to spread the word. No longer are the women in firefighting unseen and unheard, and we will no longer allow them to operate as unsung heroes. Aviation Firefighters An airport is a busy place, with the planes and people coming and going, traffic in and out, what happens when there is an incident that involves chemicals, fire, or danger? They call the fire department, just as we do, but it makes you wonder just how quickly they could respond to a call for help with all of the hustle and bustle of an average day. The airport has their seperate mini fire department. These firefighters are called aviation firefighters. Their training is the same on the first aid level, but there are some major differences that show themselves if you have ever gotten a first hand look at some of these aviation firefighters in action. Even some of the first aid/medical training is different, as far as working under certain conditions, and treating different kinds of wounds. By taking an up close and personal look at these firefighters, we will understand a little more of what their jobs entail and how different they are. First we will take a look at what tasks are sometimes required of them. A large number of plane crises occur over water, which results in a crash, and when the aviation firefighters are called, they must have the ability to aid in the situation, quickly and responsibly. By use of mobile vehicles as well as watercraft, they aid in the evacuation of people under life threatening conditions. They must have the ability to remain calm, while making immediate decisions in the best interest of each situation. Their knowledge and skills of first aid are far above basic, and they are required to maintain proper certification and current knowledge during the length of their jobs. Most of the equipment they use is concurrent with standard firefighting equipment, as well as using some tools and chemicals that are for more advanced fires and situations. An understanding of and an ability to use a wide variety of equipment is mandatory. Along with the usual hoses are foam sprayers, and complex monitors and machines. As well as having the skills to use the equipment, they must be knowledgeable on the maintenance and care needed to keep all fire vehicles, working equipment, including hoses, in top form. Along with saving people and putting out fires, these special firefighters must keep in mind the necessity of protecting the environment as well. They are educated on how to do so, and what course of action would best suit the current conditions at the site of the emergency. Suffice it to say, not only do they save lives, but also the earth. During the rush and routine of the airports activity, these firefighters are manning the Fire Control Center at each respective airport. They are the ones that maintain safety rules and regulations are being adhered to, while keeping flight take offs and landings as safe as possible. They observe the arrivals and departures of all incoming and outgoing aircraft, to make sure safety is being kept in mind. Another duty for them is the conduction of inspections concerning fire safety and inspections of all fire alarms within the airport. At any time, most airports are teeming with activity, and these firefighters have their hands full. They are responsible for educating the airport employees on any changes that are made to fire safety routines or practices, and must conduct fire drills periodically to ensure everyone is capable of acting in the event of an emergency. Some of their physical requirements are, of course, being physically fit, able to dive with underwater breathing apparatus, as well as swim. The physical requirements are quite intense, due to the nature of the job and the type of crises that are expected to occur. To find out more about your local aviation firefighters, contact your local fire department, or your local airport. To know them is to appreciate them since they bring more meaning to the phrase, "flying friendly skies". Firefighter Museums For those of you that enjoy a wonderful walk down memory lane, firefighter museums are especially for you. The number of museums built with the sole purpose of educating people and memorializing fallen firefighters, has grown drastically in the United States alone, but other countries are also building their own firefighter museums. These are special places to visit and immerse yourself in a different world for a small amount of time. Since most of them are run solely on the goodwill of donors, many of them are quite small, but others have grown and hold important pieces of history in them, telling stories of long forgotten traditions and keeping memories of fallen heroes alive today. Almost all fifty states in the United States have a firefighter's museum within their home state. These are experiences from our past that beg for attention and remembrance. Preserving the history of such a valiant job with deep roots in each community is only expected, and educating people about it is a necessity. How many of you are able to say you know even a small portion of the history of firefighting? Not many do -- not enough care. Our history, of our nation, is what defines us as the people united together today, and being aware of our past, even in the firefighting industry, could be a piece of us that has been missing. Intertwined together is every small part making up the bigger pieces. It is up to us to remember the brave men and women that selflessly sacrificed their lives to save others, and their families as well. These family members are not recognized often enough for having been the strength for their firefighters. It takes a strong person, mentally emotionally and physically to be a firefighter and it takes the same kind of person to be their mate. The countless lives lost while responding to calls is more than tripled when your figure into account, the number of family members that lost pieces of their lives and hearts when their firefighter fell. These museums help, even if in a small way, to keep their memories alive, and to proudly proclaim their actions and bravery until the world's end. Heroes are special and should be treated as special people in the eyes of others. The history of firefighting is a fascinating subject as well, how it evolved over time and grew to be a major occupation today. The tools, equipment and gear has changed quite dramatically just from the 1970's. Where there used to be plain rubber jackets and boots, they now use special hoods of flame resistant material, helmets with specialized face visors, and most importantly, SCBA gear (Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus) for aiding in less smoke inhalation and the breathing in of noxious gasses. As we have seen the improvements made in the firefighting industry from the past to the present, who knows what the future holds? What exciting changes are coming that were not even thought possible all those years ago. Can you imagine what the future will think about our primitive items? That is such a funny thought to think on our fire apparatus as primitive for the future generations. Locate the nearest firefighter museum to you, visit it and immerse yourself in their world for a short while. You will come away with a new knowledge and understanding of what they encounter in the normal course of their days, as well as a stronger appreciation for the jobs they perform. As we see from the "Fireman's Prayer", at WorldFireDepartment.com, these brave people give so much of themselves, and ask for little in return. Shouldn't we be giving them our support? If you can, make it a day to remember. Maybe you can take a group with you and share the experience. Better yet, take a child with you and show them something that will forever be a wonderful memory to them.
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