Myth busting - Five things you might not know about being a wholetime firefighter
Over the last decade, the role of a firefighter has changed considerably. The job offers a satisfying, exciting and varied role, with no two days being the same.
But along with the role, there are a lot of misconceptions. Being a firefighter is a rounded and holistic job that is challenging on a variety of different levels.
Every day, new demands are put on Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) but firefighters always strive to deliver the best possible service for anyone within the area.
Firefighting is just about fires
In a modern fire and rescue service, fighting fires is only a small part of the role. If we are responding to a fire, it means that our prevention work has failed.
More and more emphasis is now placed on community awareness, home fire safety checks and community welfare. The AF&RS mission – Improving public safety through Preventing, Protecting, Responding and resilience - means that we are committed to making our communities safer by reducing the risks that exist within the area we serve.
Modern firefighting also means responding to a range of incidents including animal rescues, road traffic collisions, rescues from rivers, floods and storms, and even terrorism. All of these factors mean that firefighters are trained to an extremely high level and often go above and beyond to help the community no matter what the incident.
Firefighters all look like models
Unlike the stereotypical firefighter calendar you may see around, most firefighters do not look like that. The image of a chiselled firefighter is far from the truth.
No single firefighter within AF&RS looks the same and the service employees a diverse range of staff with a diverse skill set.
Of course, all firefighters retain a very high level of fitness, but other than that, it doesn’t matter what you look like. What matters is your ability to tackle high-pressure situations in a calm and controlled manner.
Firefighters know everything about life-saving
Despite the amount of training, firefighters have to constantly adapt to life-threatening situations. A fire can rapidly change direction and velocity, while a road traffic collision can have a multitude of different outcomes.
AF&RS’ firefighters keep learning throughout their carer and will constantly retrain with old skills while learning new ones.
This feeds into advancements of equipment and procedures to make the role more efficient and safe. Being able to constantly learn and adapt is crucial.
Firefighters never actually work
Firefighting can be a demanding and draining role, not just physically. While incidents can see firefighters pushed to their physical limit as they tackle jobs that often last for several hours, there are also the mental strains that come after.
And then when not attending incidents, firefighters are constantly undergoing practical and technical training, completing standard tests to ensure their equipment is fit for purpose and ready, working in the community and in partnership with other organisation so.
Prevention work, such as Home Fire Safety Visits, takes up a large amount of time, but one that firefighters strive to do their best in as this activity is vitally important to reach out to some of those who are most vulnerable in our community
It’s a varied and interesting role, but certainly not one where sitting around is an option.
One thing that is true though; most firefighters love their job, and if you love your job, are you ever really working?
Being quick is the answer
When a firefighter is responding to a life-threatening incident, speed is of the essence. But when you are in a rush it can be hard to pay attention to the little details that make all the difference.
Before rushing into a burning building, firefighters will assess the situation and act accordingly. What are the dangers when going in? Where’s the best access point? Has a person been reported in the fire and if so, where? What factors are at play?
This preparation is essential in ensuring not only the public, but also firefighters, are safe whenever responding to an incident.
And this goes back to the start of every shift where extensive kit checks are carried out and up to date training means firefighters are fully prepared.