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Industrial Firefighter


Description

Industrial firefighters are individuals who are generally employed by large companies or factories that produce potentially flammable materials. Depending on the size of the company, they may be employed as a safety inspector, in charge of all aspects of health and safety within the company or organization, or may be part of a firefighting team employed by the company, who monitor the fire code at the company. When employed by a company, industrial firefighters will not provide fire suppression services to the public, however, a municipal firefighting crew will have team members trained in industrial firefighting techniques, should the general public require this type of firefighting done.

The industrial firefighting environment is extremely demanding. Typically, fires occur in oil refineries, chemical plants and other high-hazard industries, and require high water flow for long periods of time. In many cases, an industrial firefighter will have a truck which is required to pump 12 to 36 hours straight without a break.

The life of any firefighter is not easy, and industrial firefighting is no different. Instead of saving families, homes, and businesses, or forests and ecological environments, these firefighters work at saving companies, factories, products, and jobs. These firefighters put their lives at risk in this high-pressure environment, as well as monitor the day-to-day safety of a company, its practices, and its employees. Industrial firefighters will find themselves working within the company to ensure a fire never breaks out, causing possible damage to products and lives.
 
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  Interests and Skills  
Firefighters must be strong, fit, and confident in themselves, as well as their coworkers. They need to be agile, have first aid knowledge, and be able to work and concentrate under high levels of stress. A good firefighter is patient, caring, and gentle, as well as sensitive to others' needs. They should have good communication skills, be able to interact with children and the elderly, as well as have a clear speaking voice and the ability to present information to a large group. Computer skills, as well as mechanical know-how are excellent skills to bring to the position. Firefighters should also be interested in promoting fire safety and disaster prevention.

Industrial firefighters also need to have an interest in large-scale security, as well as the business and manufacturing world. Bravery, stamina, and of course, physical strength are needed skills, as well as an ability to make quick, lifesaving decisions when need be.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Assess company's fire prevention program
  • Train staff regarding safe practices
  • Monitor fire safety and adherence to fire code
  • Using large amounts of water, foam, and chemicals, control and put out fires
  • Write reports
  • Report to supervisor or company administration to suggest possible changes
  • An industrial firefighter working within a company will spend each day ensuring that a chemical, oil, or electrical fire does not start at the company where they work. If they are employed as the general safety observer, they will look for all types of health and safety code violations, but if they work as a firefighter, this twill be the main area of concern. Meeting with staff and administration, suggesting changes and progressive developments, consulting with outside health and safety officers, as well as fighting the occasional fire will be all in a day's work. There will be elements of team work, either with other firefighters or with the rest of the staff, as well as periods of working alone.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • A firefighter who focuses on industrial firefighting may be employed by a firefighting unit in the municipality, but may also be employed by a company. If working for a private company, an industrial firefighter will most likely have an office, and a computer with which to write reports and recommendations. Depending on the company and the size of the firefighting department, they may only work regular days, and come in to work on weekends, holidays, and in the evenings in the case of an emergency. However, if the factory runs over night, then the firefighter will most likely be required to stay close by, working some evenings and overnights.
  • .

  Long Term Career Potential  
An industrial firefighter has a number of career options. With additional training and experience, firefighters may progress to forest firefighting, airport firefighting, or even to municipal firefighting. As well, firefighters can become paramedics or police officers, bringing their expertise to these areas, as well. They could leave the company or organization, and work with municipal government or planning and implementing community outreach initiatives, or move on to bigger companies as the head health and safety inspector, supervising safety procedures and other firefighters. An industrial firefighter can also look towards training new firefighters, as well as writing and publishing material on fire safety for children and adults.
 

  Educational Paths  
Most industrial firefighters will have trained as regular firefighters. The path to becoming a firefighter typically requires completion of secondary school as well as completion of a college program in fire protection technology or a related field. Firefighting and emergency medical care training courses are available and may be required depending on the fire department. It is advantageous for aspiring firefighters to have experience as volunteer firefighters. Physical fitness, agility and strength is required and vision requirements must be met.

Once one has this training, they can take an industrial fire fighting course, offered at private training schools, or community colleges. These courses can have differing levels, from basic industrial firefighting to advanced techniques.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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