Fire fighter Career Information
What a Fire fighter does
Increasing urbanisation and mounting industrial activity has resulted in greater use of electrical devices in houses and offices. Add to that terrorist activities like bombing, and irresponsible deployment of inflammable substances and you have the perfect recipe for fire hazards. Chemical fires in industries are not uncommon.
Out of the many opportunities at a Fire station you could choose to be a fire fighter or a fire engineer.
The fire engineer advises and assists organisations in taking protective measures against fire hazards; he may be called upon to design or recommend materials or equipment, alarm systems, fire extinguishing systems; and provide advice on location, handling and maintenance of such devices and systems.
Fire engineers are also responsible for determining causes of fire and methods of fire prevention. They conduct research and tests on fire retardants and fire safety of materials and devices. They may recommend safe methods for the storage of inflammable and other hazardous materials. Fire engineers have to use mathematical principles to assess fire risk, then apply scientific principles to fire-safety practices.
With experience, a fire engineer moves up the ladder and takes on supervisory, administrative and regulatory responsibilities too. In senior positions, they are placed in charge of training and supervising fire-fighters, administer laws and regulations related to fire department in the organisation, ensure maintenance of fire equipment, prepare departmental budgets and so on.
In the inhibition and prevention of the onset and spread of fire, fire engineering uses management techniques. In active fire fighting and supervisory roles, a fire engineer's work is hazardous, however, administration and research spheres mean more of deskwork.
A fire fighter's main responsibility is reducing the consequences of fire if there is an incident. The other side is to reduce the incidence of fire, by effective fire prevention and fire safety advice.
Fire-fighters have to work in shifts in dangerous conditions and are at risk for burns, smoke inhalation and exposure to chemicals. The successful fire-fighter is an approachable, good communicator with the ability to take decisive action under trying circumstances. Fire-fighters must be able to perform strenuous physical tasks, such as carrying unconscious people down flights of stairs, directing the flow of a hose that carries 2,000 gallons of water per minute, or breaking down doors locked from the inside. The profession is very dangerous--over one in four firefighters have to take time off for work-related injuries, ranging from slipped disks to disfiguring burns--and requires a strong sense of commitment to public service.
P.S. Rahangdale, Station Officer at Fort Fire Brigade and recipient of the President's medal, says, "Without courage, one cannot enter any emergency site. It is vital to be ready in the line of action." Fire-fighters must be able to deal with brief bursts of intense activity, then long periods of boredom. One fireman recalls, ''there were times when we had to attend over 100 calls in just one shift of eight hours.''
Fire-fighters need to be able to relate to a five-year-old one day and a 75-year old the next. It's being aware of how to communicate with different age groups and cultures. They also need to know about relevant fire safety legislation, fire safety precautions and how these relate to buildings and building construction. They need to know about streets and places in their district, the handling of dangerous goods and building construction. They also need to know about fire-fighting, different types of fires and how to deal with them, and about rescue methods and equipment.
Fire-fighters need to enjoy working in the community, and be able to relate well to people from different cultures, lifestyles and age groups. They need to be calm in emergencies and able to make good judgements. They need to be patient and disciplined, quick and efficient, reliable, self-confident and able to work well in teams. They need to be in good health with no breathing problems, and have a consistently good level of fitness.
The government has made it mandatory for all companies in the private and public sector, to appoint a fire officer if their workforce exceeds a specified number. The fire officer who will be in charge of procuring the materials and devices to give direct training to the workforce of company, supervise fire fighters engaged in operation, administer law and regulation regarding the fire department and ensure maintenance of fire equipments.
Fire engineers find job openings in the government fire services, architectural and building design, insurance assessment, project management, aircraft industry, refineries, industrial processing, and any area of safety where the possibility of fire or combustion represents a hazard. All major organisations that own offices or residential premises use the services of a fire engineer to ensure safety of their premises.
The protective role requires a lot of safety checks, updating of equipment, conducting scheduled and surprise fire drills. Fire engineers may also work as surveyors in insurance companies assessing the extent of damage suffered by an insured party, investigating the cause of the fire, the efficacy of the fire safety devices, equipment and alarm systems.
With the ever-increasing risk of fire hazards the need for specially trained fire fighters and engineers has become indispensable. Although technology has improved considerably, unforeseen circumstances and unique developments all require competent and experienced professionals to make snap decisions and take decisive action.
A degree in fire engineering makes one eligible for the management cadre in Fire Service in the government or public sector. Fire stations all over the country employ fire engineers. With increasing urbanisation and industrial activity, the use of electrical devices, appliances, office automation has become a must in most organisations and homes. The situation in turn increases the possibilities of eventualities. Fire engineers play a pivotal role in ensuring protection and taking the necessary precautions. Every state government has a fire department executing preventive and precautionary functions.
An option lies in the insurance sector as surveyors. When there are instances of fire accidents, fire engineers are called upon to assess the extent of the damage, investigate the cause of the fire, the efficiency of equipment installed and so on.
Abilities & Traits Required
Fire engineering is a technical profession that calls for a person with a scientific bent of mind.
Other qualities include physical agility, presence of mind, calmness of mind, self-discipline, the ability to take quick, snappy decisions, a sense of responsibility and leadership qualities. One should also plan for an eventuality in advance, for after all accidents wouldn't be accidents if we knew about them beforehand.
One should also have the desire to learn and update oneself constantly. Being able to handle all types of people is a definite asset. Taking control of panic-stricken crowds and shocked victims is no easy task.
There are some physical qualities that are pre-requisites. Apart form being physically fit, one should be free from any disease that hamper one when discharging duty. The minimum height stipulated is 165 centimetres. Chest measurement: 81 centimetres, with five-centimetre expansion.
Fire-fighters need to have educational and presentation skills, good written and spoken communication skills, organisational ability, and skills in evaluating situations, making decisions and solving problems. They also need to have practical ability, such as first aid skills, fire-fighting skills, and a reasonable level of computer skills.
After 12th With Physics, Chemistry, Maths you can opt for a diploma in Fire engineering. Alternatively after BSc with Chemistry as a major subject you can do a BE Fire engineering.
The biggest fire engineering programme is conducted by National Fire Service College at Nagpurthat . It offers a 3 ½ years programme leading to the Bachelors of Engineering
There are some diploma courses on offer by private institutes, which may not get you a job in a city/state fire service but you may get a job in various companies, which manufacture fire fighting systems. You may also get a job in Middle East or Africa.
You can also begin as a Sub-Officer in a city or state. Fire service after doing a Fire Sub-Office course and later on getting promotions after passing out departmental examinations.
In Government establishments, your starting gross salary could be in the range of Rs 8,000-10,000 a month. Opportunities for getting a job in industry, office complexes, or other private sector establishments generally exist after a few years of experience.
In private sector, salary on joining may gross around Rs 11,000-15,000 per month. If you are lucky, you can land up a job in the Middle East or African countries with a salary of about Rs 25,000 or more per month.