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Fire Fighter
This is a very dangerous profession and a special type of person is needed to fill this position. Not everyone is prepared to rush into a burning building or attempt to pull someone from a car which has caught alight.

Fire fighters protect lives and property from fire and attempt to prevent the outbreak of fires. They also provide assistance in the event of disasters such as earthquakes, train derailments, vehicle accidents, floods and so forth.

Procedures for extinguishing fires or for handling disasters such as vehicle accidents are mostly planned and practised beforehand. However, upon arrival at the scene it remains necessary to decide upon the most suitable technique to be employed, for instance, whether to use water hoses or chemicals to extinguish a fire.

Fire fighters also carry out routine tasks such as cleaning fire engines, polishing equipment and working in the radio room. They may give lectures, demonstrations and practical training sessions.

Other aspects of a fire fighter's duties include making recommendations on fixed fire-fighting installations on building plans, such as smoke and heat detectors, sprinklers and emergency exits. They are also responsible for building inspections, the handout of trade licences and approving fire-prevention devices.

Fire fighters employed at airports provide effective fire protection for aeroplanes and buildings and also perform specialized emergency and rescue services.

During call-outs the fire fighter always works in highly stressful situations and under dangerous, uncomfortable conditions, where lives are usually at stake. Fire fighters are trained paramedics and rescuers and are also involved in other kinds of rescue work such as road, aircraft, water and fire accidents.

Much time is spent attending lectures, demonstrations and practical training courses as well as carrying out routine tasks such as working in the radio room, the fire prevention section and maintaining equipment, etc.

Satisfying Aspects
- knowing that your work may save lives or property
- working closely with others
- good advancement opportunities
- being able to work without requiring advanced education

Demanding aspects
- working long hours, evenings, weekends and holidays
- being away from home sometimes for days on end    
- having to remain alert all the time when you are on duty
- working in highly tense and life-threatening situations

A fireman should:
- be alert and dependable;
- have good judgement and initiative;
- be able to get along well with others and work as part of a team;
- adventurous and brave;
- stay calm during emergencies;
- be in good physical condition;
- not suffer from claustrophobia;
- not be afraid of heights;
- have physical stamina and agility;
- be emotional stable and mature.

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate for a diploma course

Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Physical Sciences, Mathematics and Life Sciences

Diploma: The 3-year N.Dip. Fire Service Technology is offered by CUT, and courses in Emergency Medical Care - CUT, CPUT, DUT, UJ, UCT.

In-service training Trainee fire-fighters receive both practical and theoretical in-service training in various aspects of fire-fighting and paramedical work before qualifying as fire-fighters. After this training, fire-fighters can qualify further by passing the exams of the South African Emergency Services Institute.

The South African Fire Service Institute provides various certificate courses, which may be taken to increase a fire fighter's competency and improve prospects for promotion. The training is theoretical as well as practical.

- City councils
- Industrial fire services
- Insurance companies that assess fire damage
- Airports
- Engineering firms that manufacture and install fire-fighting equipment
- Forestry departments

South African Emergency Services Institute
P O Box 613
Krugersdorp, 1740
Tel: (011) 660-5672 Fax: (011) 660-1887