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Occupational Profile

Firefighter

Firefighters protect the public from the dangers of fire and other hazards by controlling and putting out fires. They also provide pre-hospital care after rescuing people, respond to dangerous goods incidents, maintain equipment, practice fire prevention and provide emergency paramedical services.

  • Avg. Salary $70,880.00
  • Avg. Wage $33.14
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook Down
NOC & Interest Codes
The Firefighter is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Firefighters
NOC code: 6262
OBJECTIVE

Interest in ensuring proper operation and maintenance of firefighting equipment

METHODICAL

Interest in compiling information to administer first aid and other assistance and to use various firefighting chemicals; and in training to maintain a high level of physical fitness; may provide para-medical aid to accident victims or ill persons

DIRECTIVE

Interest in persuading to inform and educate the public on fire prevention; may supervise and co-ordinate the work of other firefighters

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation. 

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Mar 30, 2017

Firefighters are trained to promote safety and respond quickly and efficiently to situations that may endanger citizens or their property. For example, they may respond to fires, motor vehicle accidents or hazardous goods spills. They provide medical aid, rescue services, and property and environmental loss control services.

When there is a fire, firefighters:

  • rescue and evacuate people from the involved structures
  • establish a water supply
  • lay out and connect hoses and nozzles, and direct water onto fires
  • use different methods to suppress different types of fires
  • enter burning buildings
  • manage and control ladders to gain access to fires and help people to safety
  • provide pre-hospital care for fire victims who may be injured or overcome by smoke or toxic atmosphere
  • try to protect property during or after fire-fighting operations
  • inspect the site to ensure it is safe once a fire has been put out
  • deal with hazardous chemicals that may catch fire or spill.

When there are other types of emergencies, firefighters:

  • provide rescue services and medical attention for all involved in incidents including wildland fires, water or technical rescues (such as rope rescues, confined-space rescues or building-collapse rescues)
  • provide support and direction during disasters
  • minimize property loss and environmental impact
  • contribute to or write cause and determination reports for the proper authorities.

Between emergencies, firefighters:

  • take part in activities to educate the public about fire prevention
  • conduct fire inspection and preplanning activities
  • maintain and develop skills through continuing education
  • maintain their equipment.
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 30, 2017

Firefighters in large centres work shifts with rotating days off. In smaller centres, they may work part time or be on call.

The work is physically demanding, sometimes dangerous and often involves short periods of intense physical labour. Firefighters often have to work at heights, in confined places and in very dark areas. They must wear heavy gear while working in environments that include smoke and extreme high or low temperatures. Like most jobs that involve emergency situations, the work also is emotionally demanding and stressful.

Lifting, pulling and carrying over 20 kilograms frequently is required during emergency situations.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 30, 2017

Firefighters must be able to:

  • maintain top physical condition such as aerobic endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance and agility
  • make quick decisions based on knowledge and experience
  • give and take orders and function well in a close team environment
  • learn about related technologies.

They should enjoy working with tools, equipment and machinery, having clear rules and organized methods and talking to people about fire prevention.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 30, 2017

Requirements for employment as a firefighter vary from one fire department to another. For example, minimum education requirements range from Grade 10 to a high school diploma with specific courses in physics, math and chemistry. The candidate also may be required to be at least 18 years of age and have:

  • Canadian citizenship or equivalent status
  • security clearance
  • 20/30 vision without glasses and no abnormalities in colour vision
  • no hearing impairments
  • a valid Class 5 Alberta driver's licence without restrictions (some employers require an Alberta Class 3 and air brake licence)
  • training or experience in related technologies or trades, first aid or rescue work
  • a better-than-average ability to get along with people
  • an ability to climb great heights and withstand extreme cold and intense heat
  • an ability to perform under great stress
  • completed accredited fire-protection courses
  • taken medical emergency training.

Depending on the fire department, firefighters may take a training course varying in length from 6 to 12 weeks after they are employed. The minimum mark required to pass the examination at the end of the course is 70%. Afterward, there is a probationary period (6 months to 1 year) of working in a fire station.

Competition for firefighter positions is keen, especially in large urban centres. The selection process includes aptitude tests, fitness tests, medical examinations, security and reference checks and personal interviews. Related experience or training is an asset.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 30, 2017

Below-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Firefighters may be employed full time by city or industrial fire departments or part time in smaller centres.

Firefighters who have the necessary experience, seniority and abilities may specialize in areas such as hazardous materials or technical rescues. They also may become apparatus operators, fire officers, training officers, public safety educators, fire inspectors, investigators or chief officers.

In Alberta, 89% of people employed as firefighters work in the Public Administration (PDF) industry.

The employment outlook (PDF) in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Public Administraton industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 5,500 Albertans are employed in the Firefighters occupational group. This group is not expected to grow from 2016 to 2020.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 30, 2017

Firefighters are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 4312: Firefighters.

According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Firefighters occupational group earned on average from $29.98 to $38.95 an hour. The overall average wage was $33.14 an hour. For more information, see the Firefighters wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • Science
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Health Care Services
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Driver Training
  • Social, Community and Protective Services
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 30, 2017

Alberta Firefighters Association website: www.albertafirefighters.com

Alberta Colunteer Firefighters website: www.albertavolunteerfirefighters.ca

International Association of Firefighters website: www.iaff.org

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) website: www.nfpa.org

University of Alberta, firefighter fitness testing website: www.ualberta.ca/physical-education-recreation

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 30, 2017. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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