Since firefighting is a paramilitary career, many veterans are already well-suited to become firefighters. Not only do military members complete the same types of tasks as firefighters, but the personality traits required for success in both fields are similar. Understanding how the two careers are similar can help you decide if you’d like to transition into firefighting after your time of service.
How Military Service Is Similar to Firefighting
As a military member, you are committed to protecting the United States and its citizens. You may keep people from bringing in drugs and weapons or thwart a potential act of terrorism. As a firefighter, you would be committed to protecting people from fires and accidents. You’ll teach people how to remain safe when using fire, chemicals and other fire hazards. You’ll also educate people on how to avoid accidents.
Military members face authority daily, and they understand there is a chain of command. They know they must obey commands, and if there are any problems, it should be reported to the person above them. The same thing happens in the firefighting culture. There is a fire chief who runs the station and a captain who manages the firefighters. Firefighters must obey the captain, and if there are any problems, they must report to the captain before approaching the fire chief.
Service members know that they have a job to do, and many times, this job cannot get done without working with others. This means that they must work as a team. When working as a firefighter, you would have to work with others to fight fires and save people. You can’t do it alone, so working as a team is the only way to be successful.
The work you do in the military is often unsupervised. You are trusted with your duties because you have a reputation of doing well. Firefighters find they receive the same type of acclaim. They also work unsupervised because they are reliable. It is understood that when they go into a house to save people inside, they will do whatever it takes to save them. Being able to rescue someone is a reflection of how dedicated you are to doing a good job, just as it is when you complete a mission as part of your military work.
The military has strict weight requirements, and for many jobs, members must be physically fit. This ensures that the job can be completed. As a firefighter, being physically fit is also a requirement. Not only would you have to carry heavy hoses and ladders, but you also must be able to run, climb and demolish structures with heavy tools. Without being physically fit, a firefighter may not have the strength to perform his duties, which could be detrimental to his safety and that of others.
Become a Firefighter
Since the military has, in many ways, prepared you for a career in firefighting, the next step to becoming a firefighter is obtaining a fire science bachelor degree. Many military members can earn their degree free of charge by using a tuition assistance program.
With all these similarities between serving in the military and firefighting, it seems natural for a veteran to transition into a firefighting career. Whether you choose to attend school at a traditional campus or get your degree online, start your research now to find the best degree path for this highly rewarding career.
Image provided by John M. Cropper from Flickr’s Creative Commons
About the Author: Jason Yates spent 10 years with the U.S. Air Force before graduating with his emergency management masters degree. He recently accepted a position as the fire chief of the Attleboro, Massachusetts, fire department.