To an outsider, the life of a firefighter can seem as simple as sitting in the station waiting around for something to catch ablaze. There’s way more to the job than that!
Huntsville Fire & Rescue (HFR) Captain and Recruiter Cory Green broke down some misconceptions about firefighting and offered a few “under the helmet” details about daily life in a fire station.
You can’t walk into a fire station and expect to pick up a hose and start working. Before you even get assigned to a truck, you must attend the Fire Academy.
According to HFR Chief of Training Norman McKelvey, the Academy is six months long with three months of emergency medical training, followed by training to handle fires, rescues, hazardous materials incidents and many other emergency situations.
Training continues throughout a firefighter’s career.
“After basic training and being assigned to a station, you will still participate in over 196 hours of updated fire training every year,” McKelvey said.
“That includes a minimum of 18 hours of performing tasks and scenarios on the drill field.”
The quick change
A good firefighter must be fast and efficient in everything they do, according to Green.
Getting ready for a fire call requires a firefighter to put on all of their gear, including pants, coat, hood, helmet, gloves and an air pack.
“When I was going through [training], you had to have all of this on and be ‘on air’ and ready to go in two minutes,” Green said. “It’s a lot to do at any given moment, day or night.”
It’s not just men
Firefighting isn’t a just a man’s job. It’s for anyone looking to serve their community.
Though a vast majority of firefighters are men, Green says it is important for women to sign up, go through training and join their local firefighting team.
In emergency situations, he said it may be easier for a female victim to speak with another woman, rather than relay her potentially life-threatening issues to a male firefighter.
Every day is a Friday
A firefighter’s schedule is anything other than your typical 9 to 5.
“It’s one day on, two days off,” Green said. “Most people look forward to Friday, but every day is a Friday for us!”
Shifts at HFR last 24 hours; however, it’s worth it to get a double weekend every single week.
It’s more than fighting fires
Firefighters spend the least amount of time on the ground battling blazes, according to Green.
The majority of time at HFR is spent completing training hours, checking hydrants, pre-planning for fires and addressing medical calls or vehicle crashes.
The life of a professional firefighter isn’t what most folks expect. It’s so much more than gearing up to fight fires or staying a full day at the fire station. It’s serving the community and helping residents in need.
Huntsville Fire & Rescue is accepting applications for new recruits through June 2. Learn more and fill out an application at JoinHFR.com.