When not putting out fires, firefighters do physical training, attend emergency medical calls, do plenty of paperwork, complete maintenance work around the station, and test their standard equipment and gear.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, a comparison of the data from the 1980s to 2018 shows:
- Even though the population has increased steadily, fire breakout services have almost halved. It was around 2,988,000 in 1980 and the number is 1,318,500, in 2018.
Even though the number of fire calls has decreased, firefighters are often very busy. Many fire stations have been closed and consolidated, meaning many call-outs. And firefighters always need to be on their toes because there is no surety when a big fire will break out.
But, when not fighting fires, what else do firefighters do? Let’s find out!
What do Firefighters do when not Attending Fire Calls?
Here are 11 of the most common things firefighters do on their shift when not attending fire calls:
1. Report Preparation and loads of paperwork
Any profession that deals with public service involve loads of paperwork and report-making!
Firefighters spend many hours of their shift on documentation.
- They record every specific detail of all the events during each call.
- These documents help the fire department record all kinds of data for future review and analysis, whether small or big.
- All firefighters must do equipment checks at the start of their shifts and then record the status of the gears.
So depending upon how busy a fire station is, firefighters can spend between 30 minutes to many hours just on documentation alone in their shifts.
2. Testing the Equipment and Gear
Equipment and gear testing are some of the most crucial parts of the firefighter shift. It is usually mandatory to check the protective gear at the change to ensure everything is appropriate.
They also have to check the additional pieces of their equipment like the masks, hoods, oxygen cylinders, and the wide variety of equipment kept within the fire trucks to ensure everything is in the right place and is working fine.
Firefighters often go out for inspections around the locality to check on the present condition of the fire hydrants. This verification is necessary because fire hydrants are an essential water source in a sudden big fire breakout.
3. Truck Maintenance
There is no guarantee when the firefighters will call for an emergency. So they need to be prepared to hit the road at a moment’s notice. They need to ensure that the vehicle and other accessory items are in the proper working condition for this to happen.
These procedures ensure that the firefighters don’t have issues that delay or affect their availability. Any delays, even a few minutes during an emergency, can be very costly.
So regular maintenance of the truck engine, tires, and other parts is crucial in ensuring that the firefighters can swiftly attend to a call.
4. Intense Physical Training
Being fit and athletic is the first criteria to tick off to be a firefighter. Furthermore, it’s something the firefighters need to maintain throughout their career as it’s an absolute necessity in their line of work.
Firefighters have fixed physical training sessions dedicated to their shifts. In addition, they are subjected to tough fitness exams to ensure that their body remains in top-notch condition.
5. Responding to Medical calls or Rescue Missions
These days, firefighters get way more calls related to medical emergencies than fire breakouts. As a result, most (if not all) firefighters receive medical training before joining the team. Usually, a firefighter will need EMT training before being accepted into the training program.
The call for the number of medical aid-related services was 5,045,000 in 1980, and it increased to 23,551,500 in 2018. That’s an increase of about 4.66 times!
So, firefighters who are not busy fighting fires are very busy dealing with medical emergencies and accidental support.
Firefighters take part in regular maintenance work on the fire station. After all, the fire station has a kitchen, beds, and other amenities you regularly find in a home.
They work long shifts in the station and spend a lot of time rubbing their shoulders with their coworkers under the same roof. This way of living makes the fire station their second home.
Firefighters see the fire stations as public properties dedicated to fellow citizens, so they must keep them tidy and clean.
Their work ranges from:
- Cleaning rooms, corridors, windows, etc.
- Mopping the floors
- Getting rid of the regular trash
- Mowing the lawn
- Taking care of the fire trucks
- Lending a hand in basic plumbing and painting.
Go Deeper: Do Firefighters Live at the Fire Station?
Fire stations perform fundraising activities, especially when facing budgeting issues.
Times have changed, and firefighters these days, along with responding to fire calls, rush to emergencies ranging from small to significant accidents and medical crises, and not just for fire-related activities.
But their pay is frequently low, and the fire departments can face funding problems owing to sudden budget issues. As a result, many firefighters participate in fundraising activities to lend to their department.
8. Education Campaigns
Firefighters take part in regular fire prevention programs all across the local region. This program includes schools, colleges, universities, and other learning institutes.
They organize drills and give practical presentations to the students to educate them on various fire safety guidelines. These campaigns also help recruit aspiring youths who want to take up this vital profession.
9. Studying for Exams
There are always young firefighters in the fire stations who actively climb up the promotional ladder. However, the path to the top is not easy because the exams are rigorous, and the selection process is challenging.
There are also many kinds of training courses that further enhance their resume. So they must use their free time to prepare for their exams and classes.
Another great thing about prepping during their free time while in the fire station is the help they can get from their colleagues. Experienced firefighters can chime in and provide valuable input from time to time.
10. Spreading Awareness of Fire Safety
Firefighters also help organize public demonstrations of fire safety and prevention to spread awareness among the general public.
Even though fire breakouts have declined in the last few decades, fire safety education is still essential.
11. Acting as Station Tour Guides
This activity is another excellent way to spread awareness and maintain a positive rapport. In addition, community members who get a tour of the station will get a clearer image of:
- What happens during a daily life of a firefighter.
- The kind of rigorous training firefighters goes through during training.
- The types of equipment and gear the firefighters wear and work with regularly.
- The quick and strategic steps the crew takes to deal with emergencies.
Firefighters take great pride in their job and often host such station tours for the general public to give them a slight taste of the profession.
So, do firefighters have a lot of free time?
No, not at all! Firefighting is a profession revolving around strict discipline. So even if the firefighters don’t get any fire breakout-related calls in their shifts, attending to medical emergencies and doing their routine chores take up hours of their time.
Some of the 11 things mentioned here in this post, like doing physical training, engaging in maintenance work of the fire station and fire truck, inspecting the equipment, and filling out paperwork, all fall under the everyday routine duties of firefighters.
Furthermore, even if fire calls have decreased every decade, medical or accident-related calls have only skyrocketed. So their workload, instead of decreasing, has only increased. So next time you see a firefighter, don’t hesitate to show them your love and appreciation for their hard work!