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Dictionary gives very short definition of the word ‘firefighter’ – a person who fights destructive fires. From the one hand, they do their jobs like million other people. From the other, their job is closely connected with the risk. Each day firefighters put their lives on the line. As usual, they are among the first who respond on the scene of an accident. Firefighters fight with fire, saving the countless number of lives. That is why a very short definition of the word ‘firefighter’ can be made wider.
What do firefighters do? Do they only use all available materials and skills possessed to extinguish a fire, while being able to preserve as much property as possible in the shortest amount of time? However, for me, the firefighter is a protector of the community. I am sure that it is not just a job, it is a vocation. Not everybody has all the necessary skills to become a firefighter. I am not talking only about physical skills. Nevertheless, strength, coordination, speed, balance are all very important for this job. Without them one can hardly become a firefighter. The list of necessary skills of the firefighter must include spiritual and moral skills, as well.
A friend of mine took the firefighting combat test with the Longmont Fire Department. He had to run through an obstacle course fit with ordinary skills and movements that a firefighter would have to do during any call. He had to carry a ladder backwards across a marked line and back forward to the wall where he began. In addition to that there were bags, and a simulated tool, in which he was required to carry around cones and back. In sequence also came carrying fire extinguishers and a rolled up hose up and down three flights of stairs. He also had to drag a dummy and a hose a certain distance before he could return them to the original position. The last thing in the obstacle course was standing on a platform about shoulder length apart hitting a block in between his legs on the sled half way down the channel. Can you imagine this physical loading of the human body? How many trainings a person needs to become a good firefighter.
Except being a sportsman, a firefighter has to be a physicist. Fire is an impulsive and a dangerous element that can smoulder and suddenly burst. A firefighter must know how to put out fire. For example, one should not use water when the electrical cables are on fire. There is one more dangerous phenomenon – backdraft. Knowing physics help firefighters prevent destructions and death.
A firefighter has to be a psychiatrist. The behavior of a fire victim is very unpredictable. Nevertheless, the duty of the firefighter is to save the victim, to carry from the burning house. Firefighter has to stay calm no matter what. There is one more very big difficulty which can be faced. Firefighter is not God but sometimes he makes the choice – who will live and who will die. It happens when a firefighter has time to save only one person from the burning house. In the end, a firefighter will have to live with his choice.
Firefighters must be very confident in what they do, because not only their lives depend on the decisions they make. The job of firefighter is very complicated and is not for everybody. You have to be a sportsman, a psychiatrist, a physicist and a real man to become a firefighter.
"You have to do something in your life that is honorable and not cowardly if you are to live in peace with yourself, and for the firefighter it is fire," - Larry Brown (2012).