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To become a firefighter is generally considered far more difficult than joining either the police force, the ambulance service or the coastguard. The application process is both mentally and physically tough and can prove to be a very drawn out process taking years to become fully certified.
The principle role of a firefighter is to respond to calls where the fire service is required. No two calls will be the same and the requirements can range from chemical spill cleanups to car accidents to putting out fires directly.
Firefighters must always act appropriately towards the situation they are presented with. They will interact with the public most days and usually in situations of extreme stress and panic.
Firefighters must calm those around them and act decisively in order to deal with the problems at hand and ultimately save lives.
Upon application to a local station, which can only be done when the station is recruiting, a firefighter trainee will have to pass many examinations and tests to succeed. They must undergo a full medical and gruelling fitness test, prove they are numerically capable, understand the processes of fires and the education in them and have very high levels of awareness and decision making.
It is very difficult to comment on progression within the fire service. There is quite simply only one way to become involved and that is passing the training. Unlike other careers where specialisms can be trained for from the offset with firefighters this is simply not the case. All members of the fire brigade must serve a number of years as a firefighter before progression to station or watch manager is even considered. As a result, all candidates will have to follow the same route by applying to their local station. Whilst this makes the process simple it also makes it highly competitive as all candidates are applying for exactly the same position.