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Being a firefighter

Firefighters respond to 999 emergency calls to put out fires but that is not all. The firefighter’s role involves a huge range of activities other than firefighting.

Other incidents can range from road traffic collisions to chemical spillages, water rescue operations, flooding incidents, rail incidents and other disaster situations.

Whilst it is essential that you have excellent all-round physical fitness, firefighters need sensitivity to deal with the public when they are distressed and need to be able to solve problems using relevant information.

Dealing with such emergency incidents is vital, but the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has an equally important role within the area of community safety, in which firefighters are extensively involved. We recognise that the best way to fight fires is to prevent them ever starting. This aim is achieved in a variety of ways, but is primarily focused on educating and informing.

As a firefighter, you could find yourself supporting education initiatives in schools, youth and community groups and voluntary organisations. Another element of this community safety work is the provision of Home Fire Safety Visits to the community in which you work, advising people on potential hazards within the home, how to minimise risks and fitting smoke alarms when necessary.

The focus we have on prevention means that firefighters now spend a large proportion of their time educating the public so that fires and other incidents can be prevented. This involves anything from:

  • Fitting smoke alarms
  • School and community group visits providing education on fire prevention and the dangers of fire
  • Working with local councils to ensure the protection of vulnerable people
  • Carrying out inspections of commercial and industrial premises and providing safety advice to community groups and families
  • Provision of fire safety advice; visiting people's homes and assessing the risk of fire and advising on how best to protect themselves
  • Working with other emergency services such as the police, ambulance and coastguard services providing specialist skills when required

There is also a lot of training, both theoretical and practical, to maintain operational competence and time spent on the maintenance of vital equipment.

The professional firefighter’s job is both challenging and demanding, however, it is also extremely rewarding. It requires fitness, professionalism, respect, integrity, dedication and a commitment to excellence. 

As with all emergency services, we provide our service every minute of each day on every day of the year - fires and disasters do not stop because of holidays or bad weather and nor do we.

There are stressful and hazardous situations that must be faced and firefighters deal with these and provide comfort and reassurance to people who may be deeply affected by them.  All of which means that to be an effective firefighter a very high degree of personal commitment is essential.