What kind of training does a firefighter do?

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If you’ve seen any movie anywhere with First Responders, you know that Firefighters show up on scene and take control of the emergency.

From putting out fires, to rescuing kittens, and bandaging wounds- Firefighters are the kinds of people you want showing up on scene when you need some help.

So what kind of training does a Firefighter do to become some sort of halligan swinging hero capable of removing you from the most dangerous of circumstances?

The short answer? The training for firefighters is adaptive and ever-changing.

Career and volunteer firefighters have many training ideas, materials and drills can do, it mostly boils down to just a few types of training. These types are EMS, physical fitness, classroom and hands-on firefighting skills and tools.

These each can be explored in many ways beyond what I’m going to describe but here is the jist.

Midsection of firefighter holding walkie talkie at fire station

Hands-on firefighting skills and tools aka professional badassery training

This category is by far the most fun. That’s right training is fun. It’s where firefighters get to train on hoses, fire suppression tactics, search, forcible entry and a slew of other things.

They will learn controlled demolition and destruction, which is a fancy way of saying we get to break stuff in somewhat of a safe and deliberate way. It’s kind of the bread and butter of the fire service.

Since fires are less and less common compared to medical emergencies it’s something that is trained on often. After all, searching for someone in a dark smokey room with limited to zero visibility can never really be over trained.

Since these situations are dangerous and high risk situations for victims it’s important that firefighters strive to strengthen these skills to give these unfortunate victims the best chance to be rescued.

But it’s not all learning to fight fires and rescue victims. Theirs also vehicle extrication where the victims are trapped in a vehicle due to heavy damage to the vehicle.

Once again this is controlled destruction and chaos. This is in part due to the vehicle being so heavily damaged that it has to be cut and ripped apart to gain access to the patient.

The tools that are known in the fire service show up here. Most of the time the public calls them the jaws of life. But most in the fire service call them the spreaders and cutters. 

EMS- otherwise known as emergency medicine

Firefighting careers have and are currently becoming more and more about emergency medical services. The fact is its mostly medical with a sprinkle of fire every now and again.

Therefore training on EMS related topics is 100% a must. This means in a classroom setting and simulation practical setting. Lectures may pertain to protocol changes, advancements in field medicine, recertifications and recapping on lesser used but higher risk procedures.

Training in these skills is common since they are less common to run across in the field.

 Then there are times working with mannequins and using the equipment. Going over cardiac arrest scenarios with equipment and human-like mannequins is common in order to maintain skill and muscle memory. 

Endurance and strength training- neccesary for stamina and being able to handle 100 pound tools

This is one of the most important categories. Nothing else matters if a firefighter is not physically fit. It’s a firefighters job to be the best he or she can be in order to help those who can’t help themselves.

Thus every shift (should be everyday) has a place for physical fitness training. This can be strength training with weights, cardio in any capacity, stretching and conditioning.

Yes that means workouts in full bunker gear on air. It happens frequently that groups will use a combination of all those things in a circuit type workout while in their bunker gear to condition themselves to that gear.

It is a firefighters responsibility to maintain and themselves to a higher standard for physical fitness. If a firefighter is choosing not to be physical fit, he or she is doing themselves, and the people they protect, a major disservice.

Classroom time where Firefighters cover scenarios and new skills.

This is where all the things that may not be available to train for in a hands setting is explained and covered. Alot of times this can be hazmat situations and signage or near miss recaps from other departments.

Firefighters tend to be the worst critics but will always try to learn from their own and others mistakes. This can also be after action reports from a recent fire that may have occurred.

Here they will cover what did happened, what could have happened, what was done correctly and what can be improved.

Something that is not so commonly known is firefighters participate in alot of leadership classes which of course tend to be more lecture than hands on.

These lectures tend to be taught be individuals who have alot experience with leading specifically in the fire service. This is important especially to company officers since moral starts from the top down.

Firefighters have to trust their officers to lead them through the right path and essentially put their lives in the company officers hands. Leadership and trust are the keys to successful crew, therefore training needs to be taken place frequently on these.

And it never ends

While this isn’t a comprehensive list of all the training that is done it gives an idea of what kind of training a firefighter does on almost every shift basis. When the name of the game is life saving you can never train too much.

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