14 Pros and Cons of Being a Firefighter

Firefighters

Firefighters are the first to arrive at the location of an emergency like an accident or fire.

They regularly enter buildings that are on fire and are subject to various other dangerous situations, conduct rescue acts, and aim to protect the local community from a variety of injuries.

Being a firefighter requires a deep desire to help others and a strong commitment to the job.

Becoming a firefighter takes demanding training but is a highly rewarding job and well-received in the community.

If you are interested in becoming a firefighter, it is important to understand the pros and cons of this career choice.

Keep reading to learn more!

Pros of Being a Firefighter

There are many advantages to becoming a firefighter, with the most important being:

1. Advancement Opportunities

After several years of service, firefighters can develop within their position to become battalion chief, captain, lieutenant, or engineer, depending on their background training and experience.

To become an assistant chief, deputy chief, or chief, many towns require at least a bachelor’s degree in public administration, fire science, or another related field.

2. Benefit from Discipline and Fellowship

Firefighters often form bonds with colleagues since they are all working together with the same goals in mind: protect the community and protect each other.

Firefighters must always be in communication with one another and protect each other when responding to emergencies in dangerous environments.

Firefighting requires procedure, protocol, and structure, so firefighters must work together to perform a rescue or extinguish a fire.

Additionally, they depend upon each other to perform individuals actions that protect or benefit the whole team.

3. Build Skills That Can Apply to Other Careers

While working as a firefighter, you are building transferable skills that apply to a variety of other careers.

In addition to learning injury prevention skills and how to save lives in highly-stressful situations, firefighters also naturally develop soft skills like communication and teamwork.

Additional soft skills that are developed on the job include critical thinking, decision making, empathy, and time management, which are important in every career path.

These skills are required to be mastered in this role to save lives.

4. Enjoy Job Security

While building codes are constantly changing to include fire-safety precautions and features, firefighters will always be needed to respond to a variety of emergencies.

Fires do not occur only in fireproofed buildings; they also happen during accidents and in cities or rural areas around the world.

Firefighters are also called when injuries, chemical accidents, and other situations occur that require trained emergency first responders to the scene.

If emergencies occur, firefighters will be required.

Also, many government roles have excellent job security since they are civil servants of the people.

5. Help Save Lives

Most of a firefighter’s shift is spent preventing death or injury while saving buildings, homes, and other structures from destruction because of various emergencies.

That means they are playing a considerable role in saving the lives of their neighbors and servicing members of the entire community.

Firefighters also teach fire safety education and a variety of other measures as a means of preventing accidents and fires or avoiding injuries.

6. Learn and Operate Powerful Equipment

As part of your extensive training, firefighters manage and care for large and powerful equipment.

They frequently drive large trucks and operate water pumps and other extinguishing equipment.

Also, firefighters must operate mechanical ladders with buckets to pull people from windows when they cannot get inside.

When not on call, firefighters monitor all related equipment for integrity, and quality, and must perform regular maintenance to ensure these tools are ready to use in an instant.

7. Maintain a High Physical Fitness Level

The fighter role is physically demanding due to the heavy equipment that must be worn and the tools required to conduct rescue operations.

Also, their environmental conditions are new daily, so they must be physically prepared to endure those challenges.

This means firefighters must be in excellent physical shape.

Many firehouses have on-site gyms, so firefighters can maintain their regular fitness routines, even during their shift.

Also, when saving people from accidents or burning buildings, firefighters must be able to lift and carry humans and pets of varying sizes and weights quickly but carefully.

Cons of Being a Firefighter 

Like with any career, there are also several disadvantages you should be aware of before jumping into the role.

These include:

1. Continuous Training

To be prepared for almost every situation imaginable, firefighters are under constant and extensive training.

This includes advanced first aid, maintaining and operating equipment, and various firefighting techniques.

Training always occurs when new regulations or standards are required, so firefighters can utilize the most updated protocols.

For those with learning difficulties, this regular training can add to the mental distress that comes with the job.

2. Dangerous Career

The most obvious disadvantage of being a firefighter is that it is a dangerous job.

Structures regularly collapse and the heavy and large equipment can cause injury.

Also, firefighters are expected to climb high ladders or be suspended in unsafe places while rescuing humans, pets, or buildings.

There is a high injury risk level associated with this career.

Some firefighters are specially trained to respond to chemical accidents or spills which could present the risk of harmful exposure to caustic substances.

Firefighters work in dark and confined spaces and during all weather types, including inclement environments.

3. Long Shifts

Most firefighters work long shifts with some time off in between, but overtime is common since emergencies do not punch a clock.

Therefore, firefighters could work 24 hours straight with 48-72 hours off.

Some work for 10-14 hours in a single day, which, in such a physically and mentally demanding job, can be exhausting.

It is common for those who combat wildfires to work for days or even weeks at a time to contain a fire.

They usually remain on location working in shifts with other professionals, so the fire is prevented from spreading around the clock.

4. Mediocre Pay

Many comparable public service professionals have a higher average income than firefighters.

Although they are risking their lives to save the public, firefighters do not earn a healthy wage.

In comparison, a firefighter makes less than a teacher, police officer, or nurse.

However, as you climb the ranks in the department, your pay will increase.

The pay is not terrible, but you must be willing to accept that you will be in a working-class job during your career, so if you have plans to become rich, this is not the best option for reaching that goal.

5. Mentally Demanding

Firefighters are regularly witnesses to devasting and traumatic situations where the loss of life is a regular situation.

This can be mentally demanding on anyone who plays witness to such events.

Many firefighters have post-traumatic stress disorder due to the horrible situations they have observed or been part of.

Also, firefighters are the first to deliver sad news to families or enter scenarios where they cannot save a human life, pet, or building, which can be mentally and emotionally devasting.

6. Physically Demanding

While the physically demanding aspect of being a firefighter is a positive because it can help you stay in shade, it takes a toll on your body over an extended period.

Often during rescues, firefighters must break through walls, windows, and debris, or knock down doors to rescue individuals in dangerous scenarios.

Although physically prepared to do these activities, as you age, it can become more difficult and tiresome for your body to do so.

7. Your Family Will Worry

Since you are in such a dangerous role, your family will always be worried about your well-being since the next call could be your last.

Firefighters have family members that rely on them and the job often gets in the way.

Their children and partners could be at home worrying sick about you while you are running through a blaze rescuing others.

This regular mental stress can be incredibly difficult on partners, children, and parents.

Pros and Cons of Being a Firefighter – Summary Table

Pros of Being a FirefighterCons of Being a Firefighter 
Advancement OpportunitiesContinuous Training
Benefit from Discipline and FellowshipDangerous Career
Build Skills That Can Apply to Other CareersLong Shifts
Enjoy Job SecurityMediocre Pay
Help Save LivesMentally Demanding
Learn and Operate Powerful EquipmentPhysically Demanding
Maintain a High Physical Fitness LevelYour Family Will Worry

Should You Become a Firefighter?

Being a firefighter is more than just sitting in a rec room playing PlayStation and sliding down the pole when the bell whistles to save the day.

It is an incredibly dangerous, exhausting, and heartbreaking career choice.

However, at the end of the day, you are servicing the community and holding a higher purpose than just sitting in front of a desk all day.

Therefore, if you are interested in becoming a firefighter, then the best next step is to talk to a seasoned professional before you make the decision.

There are countless positive and negative factors that you must consider, so speaking with a veteran firefighter can provide the best insight of all.

Jamie Willis