T Nation

Firefighting

I just went to an orientation to my school’s Firefighting Academy. It’s something that I’ve always been interested in and seems like a really great/fullfilling/well-paid career choice.

Any firefighters here who want to speak their mind about the profesion? Tips, advice, suggestions, warnings, ect?

Just a quick bump.

I’m a volunteer FF/EMT in a rural fire district.We pretty much have to have the same amount of training and meet the same standards as a paid service.If you’re thinking about persuing firefighting to become a hero or make the news forget it.People with that mentality get others or themselves hurt,or worse.

If you want to genuinely want to help people in times of crisis and possibly make a difference in they’re life go for it.There is alot of training involved,and personal safety is paramount.There’s also the reality of seeing things up close and personal that you would otherwise just read about in the paper.Cutting people out of cars or recovering bodies from a structure fire can be a gruesome task.

Just a few things to consider.

[quote]Soldierslim wrote:
I just went to an orientation to my school’s Firefighting Academy. It’s something that I’ve always been interested in and seems like a really great/fullfilling/well-paid career choice.

Any firefighters here who want to speak their mind about the profesion? Tips, advice, suggestions, warnings, ect?[/quote]

I have been a professional firefighter for 15 years. I can truly say it has to be one of the most rewarding, fun, exciting…best jobs in the world. Yes, you will have some times where the job tests your mental and physical limits. You will see, smell and touch some pretty gruesome stuff that Hollywood will never be able to re-create, but you also have a great support network to deal with the aftermath…the ‘Brotherhood’.

Speaking of the ‘Brothers’ what kind of job allows you to hang out with a whole bunch of like minded, awesome guys…it’s like a locker room atmosphere all the time…icluding ball- busting, practical jokes and non stop laughter.

A newspaper article came out here in the spring about the most trusted professionals…Firefighter’s were at the top of the list…ahead of dr’s and clergy. It is an awesome feeling when someone asks what you do for a living and their response is always a gush of respect and enthusiasm…How many accountants receive that?

The shift work is fantastic if you can get used to it…I get so much time off I sometimes run out of things to do. So, lots of time to train, play hockey 4-5 x a week (excellent Firefighter’s League)…hang out with your FF buddies…etc.

And of course the number one perk…Chic’s love you…God knows why, but they do!!!

Good luck and if you have any more questions just drop me a line.

[quote]Soldierslim wrote:
I just went to an orientation to my school’s Firefighting Academy. It’s something that I’ve always been interested in and seems like a really great/fullfilling/well-paid career choice.

Any firefighters here who want to speak their mind about the profesion? Tips, advice, suggestions, warnings, ect?[/quote]
I’m a smoke jumper in Missoula Montana that deals with wild land fires in remote areas. When ever you are dealing with any type of fire you must try and be in the best pysical shape you can be and maintain it.

The best of luck in what ever type of fire fighting you decide too do

Awsome replies guys, thanks!

A little background: I did 4 years as an artileryman in the Army right out of high school (honorably discharged). I got out 4 years ago and have been going to junior college full-time ever since. I’ve completed a few AA degrees and have alot of my major-prep work done (kinesiology/ dietetics / history majors, yes all three! haha).

I’m ready to transfer to university but it’s very expensive, and will take me another 3 years to complete the degrees. I’ve maintained honors position throughout school but my interest in continuing has wained as of late.

Recently I’ve been seriously considering becomming a firefighter. I miss the comradeire(sp?) of the military. The feeling of knowing that other like-minded guys have my back no matter what.

I miss the structure and discipline, as well as the assurance of full health-coverage and working towards a pension. I’m in excellent health and have been training for years now.

-Do I sound like a good firefighting prospect? Seriously.

-Is Paramedic school necessary, or just kinda a “plus” to have as a firefighter?

-How much did you guys start off with (pay) as a newbie firefighter?

Thanks so much for your time!

Just a quick question to any of the firefighters who read this thread. I also have considered the profession but I don’t have a sense of smell, like I honestly cannot smell anything. I was wondering how much of a hindrance this would be in the firefighting profession. Could it be to the point where I would not be able to enter the profession? Thanks guys.

I too am trying to get into the fire service and i can tell you one thing for sure scotty, i have never met a firefighter who didnt love his job. You cant beat the teamwork and camaraderie that come with it.

I did it as a volunteer for 5 years and I loved it. you cannot beat the friendships you’ll make or the peoples lives you will change.

Don’t think the whole job is glorious, it’s not what you see on TV, your not rescuing little old ladies cats from trees.

I personally have fell throught the floor of an abandon house that was on fire, I have ridden a roof as it collapsed while trying to ventilate it, and I had a really good friend get injured while doing salvage and overhaul, a safe fell through the attic and landed on his head.

One thing is for sure, this job will tax you both physically, mentally, and will strain some marriages. But the personal satisfaction you get will keep you amped till your next day on tower.

Bullpup

I didn’t mean to sound so grim in my above post.Firefighting is a very rewarding experience.The satisfaction of making a difference in someone’s life,or preserving property is an awesome feeling.The friendships are among the trueist.Knowing you’re headed into a nasty situation and having brothers right alongside you inthe thick of it forms lifelong bonds.

[quote]bullpup wrote:

I have ridden a roof as it collapsed while trying to ventilate it,

Bullpup[/quote]
Okay, I gotta ask: The house is on fire, the roof is mainly made from wood and you were ON it??? The mind boggles…What is the purpose of the roof venting anyway? Never done it in the UK.

Anyway, to answer the original post: If you’re the right man for the job I doubt you’ll find anything more rewarding or sometimes testing than being a fireman. I’ve only ever met one guy who left the service to pursue a different career-and he obviously needed his head examined :wink:

Ventilation is used to get rid of smoke and heat.Both smoke and heat rise making the roof a good place to get rid of them.A better scene size up might have kept bullpup off that given roof.Can’t tell,wasn’t there.

Ventilation is used to get rid of smoke and heat.Both smoke and heat rise making the roof a good place to get rid of them.A better scene size up might have kept bullpup off that given roof.Can’t tell,wasn’t there.

[quote]BigCelt wrote:
Ventilation is used to get rid of smoke and heat.Both smoke and heat rise making the roof a good place to get rid of them.A better scene size up might have kept bullpup off that given roof.Can’t tell,wasn’t there.[/quote]

I will agree on the scene size up. Too many scenes go without a safety officer. And I’m not picking on voly departments here, but they tend to be a little too “yahoo get-r-done!”.

A trussed roof only has so much time before it will give way. Gotta get on that roof fast if that’s the way you’re gonna go with ventilation.

[quote]robbiminator wrote:
bullpup wrote:

I have ridden a roof as it collapsed while trying to ventilate it,

Bullpup
Okay, I gotta ask: The house is on fire, the roof is mainly made from wood and you were ON it??? The mind boggles…What is the purpose of the roof venting anyway? Never done it in the UK.

Anyway, to answer the original post: If you’re the right man for the job I doubt you’ll find anything more rewarding or sometimes testing than being a fireman. I’ve only ever met one guy who left the service to pursue a different career-and he obviously needed his head examined :wink:
[/quote]

Robb,

would you not vertically ventilate a structure that was presenting with backdraft conditions?

I will admit to not having had to cut too many holes in roofs for ventilation though. Usually the fire is still at a stage where we can ventilate with positive pressure fans, then we can go in and make an interior attack and/or rescue.

Or we’re a little too late and the fire has self vented through the roof :]

Surround and drown, you know the drill.

It’s nice to have a firefighting thread here on T-Nation. It’s especially cool to be talking to firefighters from other countries.

I agree with not having to vent a roof often.The last one we did was on a house where the fire started on the kitchen stove and got up in the vent and spread into the attic space.It was rafter construction,so it bought us some time to get after it.I also agree with staying away from truss roofs.Without a ridgepole,like rafters,the liklihood of a catastrophic collapse can happen fast.If one truss goes the rest could fall like dominoes.

[quote]BigCelt wrote:
I agree with not having to vent a roof often.The last one we did was on a house where the fire started on the kitchen stove and got up in the vent and spread into the attic space.It was rafter construction,so it bought us some time to get after it.I also agree with staying away from truss roofs.Without a ridgepole,like rafters,the liklihood of a catastrophic collapse can happen fast.If one truss goes the rest could fall like dominoes.[/quote]

One thing about roof venting I’ve learned is that if it has a ridgevent, it can make it easier to vent. All I do is hook the pick end of the axe in the end and give it a good pull. If it goes well, It’ll come off like a zipper. It’s not much surface area, but it’s a good start.

If more venting is needed, pulling the ridge vent will also give the guy on the roof a good idea of where the trusses are located.

We had a fire not too unlike the one you described a little while ago. Spread much the same way. We managed to get there in time to pull the gable vents and send a crew in the house. The house was small enough to attack the fire in the attic by attacking the fire from the opposing gable vent.

Good times.

We had a medical run a little while ago and the old guy in the bed started to rub the back of the medics leg when she wasn’t looking. The wiley old fuck probably would’ve made it to her ass if she hadn’t stopped him :]

Funny as hell. I hope I’m that cool when I’m that old.

[quote]bigflamer wrote:
We had a medical run a little while ago and the old guy in the bed started to rub the back of the medics leg when she wasn’t looking. The wiley old fuck probably would’ve made it to her ass if she hadn’t stopped him :]

Funny as hell. I hope I’m that cool when I’m that old.[/quote]

Great story, any more?

[quote]robbiminator wrote:
bullpup wrote:

I have ridden a roof as it collapsed while trying to ventilate it,

Bullpup
Okay, I gotta ask: The house is on fire, the roof is mainly made from wood and you were ON it??? The mind boggles…What is the purpose of the roof venting anyway? Never done it in the UK.

Anyway, to answer the original post: If you’re the right man for the job I doubt you’ll find anything more rewarding or sometimes testing than being a fireman. I’ve only ever met one guy who left the service to pursue a different career-and he obviously needed his head examined :wink:
[/quote]

This particular fire was a multiple family dwelling,( apartment), it did not have any firewalls between units. Upon initial arrival it was engulfed fairly heavy.

The reasoning behind ventilating was to try and keep the fire contained in one section, and not have it spread to other units searching for more oxygen.

I didn’t make the call, I was just doing as I was told.

I made the first cut with the chop saw and the heat coming through the gap was enought to melt the blade guard.

when I was making the last cut the panel fell through, and the fire broke out from there.

The man on the hose nozzle on the roof with me was using the water stream to keep some of the heat off of me and during the process melted the nose cone of the nozzle.

when the roof gave it didn’t fall out from under me, it just sagged at an alarming rate. We were still able to get down with out much harm, but it was scary as hell riding a roof

Bullpup