Firefighter training in the United States

U.S. firefighters are versatile rescue specialists, numbering approximately 1148850. They not only respond to fires, but also to every 911 call. Firefighters are always ready to provide first aid, and if needed, can bandage or administer pain relief shots, perform CPR, and perform emergency surgery in the field.

Fire departments report to and are funded by local municipal governments. The roles of regional and federal authorities are disparate and limited. Regional fire authorities are involved in firefighter training and certification functions. At the federal level are the U.S. Fire Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The U.S. has a professional “paid” fire department, accounting for 28% of all firefighters, a volunteer fire department, accounting for 72%, and a company fire department, for example, Boeing recruits firefighters with at least three years experience and they work in airports and on plane crashes.

The staffing of a fire department depends on the type of community. In towns with a population of over 10,000 people, fire departments consist of professional “paid” firefighters, rural areas and suburbs, where the population is at least 2500 people serve units of volunteer firefighters. Nationally, there are more volunteer firefighters than professional “paid” firefighters, and this ratio is only increasing as volunteer or other community service is often required, especially when applying to jobs or universities.

Sixty-two percent of U.S. residents believe it is prestigious to be a professional firefighter or volunteer firefighter. Volunteer opportunities are advertised on city websites. There is a system of social benefits to attract them. All volunteer firefighters undergo theoretical and practical training required by the state. According to NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) volunteer firefighters help save the country about $128 billion annually through their work. Modern volunteer fire departments with hired personnel and specialized equipment are an integral part of city government. In some large U.S. cities the fire department is headed by a fire commissioner; other cities have a board of fire commissioners headed by an executive director.

The basic structural unit of the fire department is a crew led by a captain, who must be present on duty each shift, but is often replaced on a schedule by lieutenants and sergeants. The engine and the ladder truck are the two types of vehicles that form the backbone of the U.S. fire department.