How to become a Firefighter

Firefighters control and extinguish fires and protect life, property and the environment as members of fire brigades.

Personal requirements of a Firefighter

  • Good communication skills
  • Enjoy helping people and contributing to community safety
  • Able to work as part of a team
  • Enjoy practical work
  • Able to cope with the physical demands of the job
  • Able to pass a medical examination
  • Able to work under pressure
  • Able to work at heights and in confined spaces
  • Willing to undertake ongoing training and professional development

Education & Training for a Firefighter

You can work as a firefighter without formal qualifications, but employers usually require Year 10 or your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. You will receive training on the job and through in-house training courses. Applicants who meet the basic criteria must pass a range of clearances and assessments. This may include an interview, character reference check, National Police Check, psychological test, medical examination or fitness assessment. Contact the fire authority in your state or territory for further information. If you are successful, you will attend a training course. Durations vary (up to three years in Queensland and Victoria) and may be followed by an extended period of training, study and assessment.

Duties & Tasks of a Firefighter

Firefighters may perform the following tasks:

  • respond to emergency calls regarding fires, vehicle accidents, rescues and other emergency situations
  • undertake activities designed to prevent fires and help communities prepare for emergency situations
  • drive or crew firefighting appliances or other vehicles to fires or incident scenes
  • provide support in response to natural disasters such as floods and cyclones
  • operate pumps and spray foam or water from hoses, portable extinguishers or other appliances to extinguish fires, or to disperse or neutralise dangerous substances such as chemicals and petroleum
  • rescue people stranded or trapped in dangerous situations or inaccessible places using ladders or elevating platforms, or by cutting openings in buildings or crashed vehicles to free occupants
  • respond to industrial accidents
  • administer first aid and oxygen therapy
  • communicate with other emergency response personnel using radios, computers and other communication technology
  • take part in ongoing training in firefighting techniques and professional development
  • visit buildings to assess entry/exit points and locations of hydrants, identify potential fire hazards and ensure they comply with fire codes
  • inspect and maintain firefighting equipment and hydrants
  • undertake public education tasks, including school visits, demonstrations, first aid, firefighting training and lectures
  • undertake administrative duties
  • train industrial and volunteer firefighters.

Working conditions for a Firefighter

Firefighters wear uniforms, breathing apparatus and other personal protective equipment when dealing with emergency incidents. They are required to work both day and night shifts in order to maintain a 24-hour service. Due to the nature of shiftwork, firefighters work several days on followed by several days off.

Employment Opportunities for a Firefighter

The major employers of firefighters are state and territory fire authorities. Applications are typically accepted through the year. Competition for available positions is very strong. Federal and state public services and some large commercial and industrial organisations employ experienced firefighters as fire prevention officers. Local governments in rural locations employ firefighters as bushfire prevention officers.

Additional Information
Depending on your state or territory, you may need to be an Australian citizen or have permanent residency. You may also be required to obtain a stipulated drivers licence class, undergo a National Police Check and medical examination, and hold a Provide First Aid Certificate.
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