Fire Services

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If you work in the fire services your goals are to save lives, property and the environment. A fire can rapidly spread and endanger lives. However, thanks to modern firefighting techniques and preventative measures, firefighters can help avoid fatalities.

Firefighters are often the first responders to people in critical conditions. They provide basic life support as emergency medical technicians or advanced life support as licensed paramedics. They may also be assist in dealing with floods, chemical spills and other emergencies.

Fire fighting can be a full-time career, or it can be part-time and on-call.


Local Authorities recruit firefighters. To be eligible, you have to meet strict requirements regarding physical fitness, hearing, eyesight, height and physique. You will need referees to vouch for you, and be at least 18 years-old. In addition, you need at least a Grade D (or pass) in five subjects, including Maths and English on the Junior Certificate Exam or an equivalent qualification.

The recruitment process consists of aptitude and fitness tests, and an interview. The aptitude test examines your mechanical reasoning and spatial and numerical ability. Speed and accuracy are important here. The interview tests your ability to work in a team, communicate clearly and make decisions. Physical tests make sure you have the capacity to undertake all fire service duties.

Those who pass go on to train as firefighters. You will learn fire station and brigade procedures, how to operate appliances and equipment, and rescue techniques. You also receive training in the use of breathing apparatus, road traffic extrication, dealing with hazardous chemicals and coping with stressful environments and situations.

The Work

The clue is in the name: firefighters fight fires. That is their primary duty . But it is not the only one. They assist at a range of other emergency situations. These include floods, explosions and car crashes, chemical spills, water rescue, general rescue, flooding and a host of other incidents. Many fire crew members are also first responders, such as EMTs or paramedics.

After dealing with an incident, firefighters also check the site for safety. They also write reports on what happened. Insurance companies or accident investigators often use these reports.

While they are waiting for call-outs, firefighters perform maintenance checks on equipment, review procedures and go on fire safety visits in the community. They also practise drills and training.

District officers with the Fire Service are firefighters who transfer from operational fire duties to fire prevention. Their work includes checking pubs and clubs to make sure they meet safety regulations.

Junior officers are recruited from the general fire-fighter grades. They undergo training in command and control and in station management. Initially, junior officers start as crew commanders. Later on, they can act as station commanders.

Full-time fire prevention officers are usually graduates, and already qualified engineers, architects or surveyors. They survey both existing buildings and buildings under construction to ensure they adhere to fire safety regulations. They can also be called to a major fire to oversee operations.

Firefighters must be brave. You will need both mental and physical strength, and an ability to work well in a team. The work can be dangerous, and needless to say, working hours are not nine-to-five.

Did you know?

The primary risk to people in a fire is smoke inhalation.

Further Resources

Irish Fire Services

Cork City Fire Brigade is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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