A career in the fire service is both challenging and rewarding. Fire suppression is only one of a variety of duties performed by Firefighters. In fact, approximately 85 percent of all fire department responses are to emergency medical calls. Other typical assignments may include fire prevention education, commercial and residential fire inspections, community outreach and services, post-fire salvage and cleanup, and equipment maintenance.
Basic protective gear for a structural firefighter battling building and similar blazes is about 45 pounds. Structural firefighters also typically carry an ax, a radio and a flashlight, and possibly a thermal imaging camera for a total gear weight ranging from 66 pounds to 77 pounds. A significant amount of time is spent inspecting, cleaning, and maintaining this equipment and training in its use. A Firefighter is usually a member of a 3-member team that lives and works together in close quarters throughout the shift. Living at the fire station entails rigorous housekeeping, apparatus and equipment maintenance, cooking, cleaning and yard maintenance. Teams are composed of individuals from diverse genders and backgrounds and each member is heavily dependent on fellow members to successfully perform the duties of the position.
Firefighting is 24-hour work done in shifts that vary by jurisdiction. Calls for assistance can and do come at any hour. Many Firefighters contend that the best way to ensure that a call comes in is to prepare a meal or begin a good night's sleep! A typical Firefighter with Montclair works a 48-hour shift with time off-duty in between shifts. On occasion there may be mandatory overtime. A typical Firefighter may earn between $4,050 and $5,000 per month. Other benefits include excellent medical, dental, and retirement plans.
- Minimum age of 18
- Valid driver's license
- Clean driving record
- Education equivalent to a high school graduation
- Visual acuity of 20/70 un-corrected in each eye (correctable to 20/25 in both eyes) with normal range depth perception and the ability to identify primary colors
- Hearing within normal range
- Weight if proportion to height
A Firefighter must have good judgment, good communication skills, demonstrated mechanical aptitude, basic math skills, and the ability to understand and learn firefighting material. In addition, a Firefighter must be able to face hazardous, life-threatening incidents and have coping skills for managing unpleasant and difficult situations. Firefighters must have excellent interpersonal skills and be able to work well under stressful situations. At the same time, they must be team players able to get along with a variety of people in close quarters. The ability to follow orders and work in a paramilitary organization is also important. Firefighting is physically demanding and personnel in the fire service must be in excellent physical condition.