Berwick, Brandon - Firefighter

From What can you do with a degree in psychology?

Jump to: navigation, search


[edit] Firefighter (Brandon Berwick)

[edit] General Overview

While many may think that firefighters are just people who put out fires and save kittens from trees, they do a lot more at hand then just that, such as promoting fire safety precautions, responding to car accidents and sometimes responding to flood incidences. Firefighters are men and women who risk their lives everyday to keep the community safe. While other people are running away from the danger, they are the ones running towards it.

[edit] Job Duties and Responsibilities

As stated above, firefighters have to do more then put out fires and save kittens. They have an array of responsibilities while on the job. Aside from building fires they are required to respond to: fire alarm activations, automobile accidents, industrial accidents and even bomb threat calls[1]. They are required to inform and educate the community on how to maintain safe fire prevention such as: maintaining a functional fire alarm, having the proper fire extinguishers in the appropriate areas/ locations. They are also required to know how to properly operate multiple fire prevention equipment/ other equipment to aid them in doing their jobs and also stay in top physical form to carry out all of the duties required of a firefighter. The equipment used include: water hoses, axes, aerial ladders/ regular ladders, hydraulic equipment (e.g., jaws of life), and firefighting chemicals[1]. At the station, firefighters are required to maintain and inspect all of their equipment that will assist them in their job (including the fire engine)[2]. On top of that, they must familiarize themselves with the local streets, road, buildings, and areas so that they can respond to a call through a safe and speedy route[2].

[edit] Typical Workday

Being a firefighter is not a typical 9-5 job. After much debate, in Ontario firefighters now work a 24 hour shift. These shifts are staggered throughout the month, so typically a firefighter will work around 8 days per month but they will have to remain at the station for their full 24 hour shift[3]. Some firefighters use this much free time to obtain a second job to pay for all of their expenses.

Unfortunately people do not decide to stay out of danger, have accidents or prevent fires on weekends, so firefighters do not get weekends or holidays off. They work around 8 days out of the month and 24 hour shifts is for overtime opportunities unlikely. With that in mind, there are shift changes, sick days, and potential (though very rare) shifts to be picked up in time of an emergency.

The work setting is constantly changing. On some nights, they may be inside the station for most of the night, but on other nights they may be going from call to call. It is a very stressful and difficult environment to become accustomed to.

Firefighters are required to work with a group of males and females that they must trust and at times their life can literally be in the others hands. Firefighters are also required to work/ deal with the community and everyone who is in it.

As stated above, firefighters are required to use multiple tools on a day-to-day basis. For starters there is their clothing while going to a call. This is known as their ‘bunker gear’. Bunker gear consists of: Protective trousers, boots, protective coat, hood, helmet, work gloves, personal alert safety system, and personal breathing apparatus[4]. Some of the external tools they may have to use are tools such as: fire axe, fire-hose, hydrant, ladders, sledgehammer, jaws of life, pike pole, the ‘Halligan’, water rescue tools (used for floods), and many others[4]. When firefighters are not on a call, they have a schedule of vehicle/ equipment checks, they inspect all equipment, and have to do community education. Firefighters also are in charge of ordering supplies. Each firefighter will have responsibilities divided amongst them that they are to expected to complete. Also they are required to maintain a physical standard while at work with the gym that is usually in place inside the station[5].

[edit] Educational Requirements and Other Qualifications

Becoming a firefighter (in Ontario) requires; being legal to work in Canada, having a 20/30 in each eye without corrective lenses and complete a colour vision test, have a minimum of a grade 12 education (or equivalent), complete their aptitude test/ interview, have a Ontario driver’s licence (with a good record), possess (or get while in service) a Class D licence with a Z air brake endorsement, understand and speak fluent English, pass their health, medical and fitness assessment, and be certified in CPR/ first aid[6]. To become a firefighter, it is not mandatory, but it is suggested that you have volunteer experience with anything involving fire safety/ prevention and also to have completed the ‘Pre-Service Firefighter Education & Training Program[6]'.

Every firefighter is re-tested on their physical and mental abilities every 6 months in order to assure that they are maintaining their requirements[3].

There is no huge differences for education or qualifications when it comes to firefighting because it is a government run job and they maintain a federal standard across Canada[6].

[edit] Related Skills, Interests, and Abilities

Firefighters are expected to be some of the upmost influential people in most communities. Skills and abilities that are often sought after in firefighters are abilities such as: Integrity (to be trustworthy and reliable), physically able, great communication skills, extreme flexibility and adaptability (not only to the work schedule but also to the situations you will be put into), dedicated, a team player, to be able to problem solve (not only mentally and physically, but by also using the tools provided), they must be aware of how much of a public image that they do/ must uphold, they must be tolerant (understanding and compassionate), and they must be willing to make self sacrifices[7].

[edit] Relevance of Psychology Undergraduate Degree

An undergraduate degree of any kind will put a person ahead of another that is applying without one. Psychology can be found in this profession in a lot of ways.

Firefighters live through a stressful environment. A course taken on stress in psychology can help further your knowledge of what may be affecting you, your coworkers, and most importantly, the people you are helping. This can help you understand what stressors they may be experiencing and how you can help in any way without being their psychologist.

Courses on positive psychology can be helpful being around aspects like: death, pain, hate, hurt, and depression, it can be a huge asset to know how to attempt to help them by talking to them to boost their outlook. It can also be helpful for you and your fellow coworkers to know how to keep a positive mindset. Health Psychology courses are also a huge attribute to you in this field because firefighters are required to maintain a certain physical stature. Knowing not just what to eat/ do, but how your mind may affect your health can assist you in not only a physical sense, but also in keeping you mentally stable during the trials you may go through.

Social psychology can benefit you in maintaining an excellent public appearance through knowing how people may react through certain situations of authority and other situations such as a dispute after a motor vehicle collision or the panic in a townhouse complex fire.

[edit] Salary Potential

Salaries for firefighters are basically the same throughout Canada. A probationary firefighter (new recruit) is paid roughly $4,800-$5,000 per month, but after their fifth year on the job, they make roughly $7,000-$7,500 per month[8]. This will rise if they become a chief or captain.

[edit] Job Outlook

There will always be a need/ demand for firefighters, because there will always be danger that needs tending to. There is a projected amount of around 40,500 job openings for firefighting over the next 10 years[9]. This being said, this is just an estimate. As the population grows larger and cities expand, there will be and even greater demand for firefighters.

[edit] To Know More

For more information on becoming a firefighter CLICK HERE[1].

[edit] Notes and References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 6262 Firefighters. (n.d.). Retrieved December 16, 2013, from 1=6262
  2. 2.0 2.1 Firefighter. 2014, July 1. Retrieved from
  3. 3.0 3.1 Toronto Fire Service. (2013, January 1). Retrieved January 1, 2015, from
  4. 4.0 4.1 Equipment. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  5. Frequently asked questions. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Education & training. (2011, November 10). Retrieved from ification/EducationTraining/BecomingFirefighterOntario/OFM_become_a_ff. html
  7. Vitalie, T. (2014, March 28). Fire Recruit. Retrieved from firefighters-have
  8. Salary and benefits of a firefighter. (2014, January 1). Retrieved from benefits.aspx
  9. Canadian occupational projection system. (2015, February 13). Retrieved from
Personal tools
Bookmark and Share