3 Best Firefighter Qualities

There are plenty of qualities you want in a fellow firefighter, but the 3 best firefighter qualities we all look for are:

  1. Dependable
  2. Knowledgeable
  3. Kind

I’m sure some would try and argue these, but they would probably be wrong.  We get into the full explanation of each to support our decision!

3 Best Firefighter Qualities

What do we mean by a dependable firefighter?

Don’t take dependability for granted.  Not all firefighters are created equal, and it shows on a daily basis in the fire service.  Most notably, at the fire station.  For instance, who doesn’t like having their relief show up on a consistent basis as scheduled, and let’s be honest….sometimes a little early?  Your duty day begins and ends at 7 am and you show up early and prepared to work.  As a result, you expect your relief to arrive in time to get you out of work so you can go about your personal business.  I don’t care who you are…no one likes the ‘just on time’ or ‘always 10 minutes late with poor excuses’ guy/gal.

Being dependable means being able to complete tasks that are assigned to them.  Whether on the scene of a call or at the station, things need to get done.  No one wants to continually pick up the slack of someone who isn’t capable of following directions.  If you are asked to hook to a hydrant, we should be confident that you will accomplish that.  If you are asked to place a 12-lead on a patient, we should expect that to be done.  We shouldn’t have to chase you and request you get things done multiple times.

Being dependable means being organized.  If you have station duties, individual training, correspondence, or other assignments that need to be done, we should know you are capable of doing those things throughout the day without the burden of having to chase you to get them done.  Don’t let things pile up to the point everyone around you has to ‘help’ all the time.

And last but not least, being dependable means when you have accomplished your tasks….following up with the officer on duty and asking if there is anything else that you can do to help.  Help with dinner, help with cleaning, help with training…..be that dependable guy/gal please.  

This article written by Assistant Chief Costa in Fire Rescue 1 titled, Why did we stop hiring and promoting the ‘workers’ among us?, nails this concept on the head.

Knowledge is knowing right?

Most people have some comprehension and ability to function with basic life skills through daily life.  Right?  You would think.  We don’t think we need to tell you that is, unfortunately, not true.  When we say knowledge, we mean information and skills acquired  by a firefighter before and after fire school.  Usually this knowledge is gained through education and experience.  We are talking about having a base foundation of knowledge that we can work with.

General life knowledge is a starting point.  Then you need to have work-related knowledge.  Don’t be the person who passes the skills tests and written exams and then forgets everything they learned.  No fire department wants to start from 0 with new hires and/or veterans who have forgotten everything they have learned because they don’t train or study.  We don’t have time to walk people through ‘how to do your job’ while on the emergency scene.  Who wants to ask someone to start stabilization of a vehicle for extrication and have them fumble it up without direct supervision or direction.

Again, we don’t need perfection…just progress.  Seniority in the fire service comes with an anticipation of knowledge sharing.  If you lack knowledge, ask a senior firefighter.  If they don’t know, then get after it in some of our basic fire courses like Building Construction in the Fire Service, Tactics and Strategies I, Tactics and Strategies II, or a class like Fire Chemistry.  

Why Fire Chemistry?  Don’t get me started.  Knowing about fire science, otherwise known as fire dynamics, is paramount to fire companies initiating search, rescue, and fire attack!  Don’t let your lack of knowledge get you or your fellow firefighters killed.

Good news for you though.  Education is our specialty.  So if you are looking to shore up your knowledge through firefighter education, look no further and review our full course catalog here.

Don’t forget to be kind

People associate the word ‘kind’ as a simple adjective, but it’s so much more than being ‘nice’.  Put bluntly, there is no place for unkind people in the fire service.  I am not saying it doesn’t exist, but don’t be it. 

Kindness in the fire service means being helpful.  Help your coworkers, help your community.  Don’t be the selfish ninny that lacks the ability to help others.  It should be in your DNA to help others if you are a firefighter.  If you finish your assignment, help someone else.

Patience is a form of kindness.  Allowing the community to express themselves without drawing an immediate negative reaction from you is important.  They need you, at their worst moment, to be patient with them.  Show them the consideration they deserve.

Show your kindness through a smile and genuine compassion.  This means control your tone, your expression, your attitude, your posture. Take some time to focus on other’s needs.

This isn’t just with the community; this is with the people you work alongside also.  Be aware of your surroundings and be prepared to receive feedback from your crew and officers on how you are doing.  The fire service may be changing, but the needed firefighter qualities stay the same.

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