Firefighters (NOC 4312)

About this job

Firefighters carry out firefighting and fire prevention activities and help with other emergencies, such as hazardous goods spills and motor vehicle accidents.

See what a day in the life of this job is like—watch WorkBC’s Career Trek video about this occupation.

Source: WorkBC’s Career Trek

People in this occupation:

  • work for municipal, provincial and federal governments, and for large industrial establishments that have internal firefighting services
  • need to be physically fit, well coordinated and comfortable with heights and confined spaces
  • must be able to work cooperatively as part of a team and function well during an emergency
  • must be highly motivated and dedicated to helping people
  • must be committed to continuous learning to keep their skills up to date
Common job titles
  • crash firefighter
  • fire prevention officer
  • firefighter, airport / shipboard
  • firefighter, inspector / lieutenant
  • inspector, fire safety
  • training firefighter
  • crash firefighter
  • fire prevention officer
  • firefighter, airport / shipboard
  • firefighter, fire captain / platoon chief
  • firefighter, inspector / lieutenant
  • inspector, fire safety

Earnings

Annual provincial median salary

$75,082

Source: 2016 Job Bank Wage data

Note:Estimated median employment income based on 2016 Job Bank median hourly wage rate (median annual salary = hourly wage rate x 40 (hours per week) x 52.14 (weeks per year))

Provincial hourly rate

  • High
  • Median
  • Low

Source: 2016 Job Bank Wage Report

Duties

Firefighters perform some or all of the following duties:

  • respond to fire alarms and other calls for assistance, such as automobile and industrial accidents, bomb threats and other emergencies
  • rescue victims from burning buildings and accident sites
  • control and extinguish fires using manual and power equipment, such as axes, water hoses, aerial ladders and hydraulic equipment and various firefighting chemicals
  • give first aid and other assistance
  • work in a trauma or emergency response team and provide paramedical aid to accident victims or ill persons
  • do emergency dispatch
  • make sure firefighting equipment operates properly and well maintained
  • educate the public on fire prevention
  • train to maintain a high level of physical fitness
  • help the public, the police and emergency organizations during times of major disasters
  • may supervise and coordinate the work of other firefighters
  • may conduct building inspections to ensure compliance with fire code.
  • prepare written reports on fire incidents
     

Work environment

In large urban centres, firefighters typically work shifts with rotating days off. In smaller communities, they may work on a part-time or on-call basis. Firefighters spend much of their time in fire halls or training facilities, preparing to handle a variety of emergency situations.

When emergencies arise, firefighters must respond immediately. At the scene of an emergency, these workers must remain calm and level headed and be able to help to calm other people.

Firefighters need a high degree of physical fitness and mental alertness, since firefighting is both physically and mentally demanding. Firefighters wear heavy gear when responding to emergencies and must often lift or carry more than 20 kilograms. They must also be able to cope with the emotional stress of the job.

The work environment is often dangerous, and can include extreme temperatures (both high and low) and smoke.

Firefighters follow strict safety procedures to reduce the risk of injury.

Job requirements

Education, training & qualifications

Employment requirements for firefighters may vary from one fire department to another.  Completion of Grade 12 is usually required. Other requirements usually include:

  • completion of one or two years of additional post-secondary education, apprenticeship or equivalent
  • successful completion of an approved firefighter training program and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1001 Level 1 and 2 Certification.
  • Volunteer fire departments generally provide training, which can eventually lead to basic professional qualifications.

Depending on the department, firefighter candidates must have:

  • a Class 3, 4 and/or 5 British Columbia driver’s licence with airbrake endorsement
  • a driving record that shows responsible and safe driving behaviour
  • must be medically and physically fit and meet vision and hearing standards
  • must pass a criminal record check
  • CPR Level "C" and Occupational First Aid Level 3 or First Responder Level 3
  • Other qualifications that may be beneficial include:
  • volunteer firefighter experience
  • other work experience related to firefighting (such as building construction, mechanical experience, driving large or emergency vehicles, forest firefighting, diving, first aid and paramedical experience)
  • fluency in a language other than English
  • an ability to swim and related life-saving certificates
  • volunteer work in the community

Skills

  • Spatial Perception
  • Directive
  • General Learning Ability
  • Social
  • Motor Coordination
View skills definitions

Education programs in B.C.

The following program areas are related to this occupation:
  • Fire Fighting Related

For more information about programs offered specifically for this career, visit EducationPlannerBC.

Select a region to view regional outlook
Vancouver Island / Coast Mainland / Southwest Thompson-Okanagan Kootenay Cariboo Northeast North Coast & Nechako
Cariboo
Employment in 2016:
150
Average annual employment growth:
-0.5%
Expected number of job openings:
20
Kootenay
Employment in 2016:
90
Average annual employment growth:
N/A
Expected number of job openings:
N/A
Mainland / Southwest
Employment in 2016:
2,690
Average annual employment growth:
1.8%
Expected number of job openings:
1,200
North Coast & Nechako
Employment in 2016:
50
Average annual employment growth:
N/A
Expected number of job openings:
N/A
Northeast
Employment in 2016:
20
Average annual employment growth:
N/A
Expected number of job openings:
N/A
Thompson-Okanagan
Employment in 2016:
250
Average annual employment growth:
3.9%
Expected number of job openings:
150
Vancouver Island / Coast
Employment in 2016:
380
Average annual employment growth:
1.1%
Expected number of job openings:
170

N/A - Data not available

Source: B.C. Labour Market Outlook

Insights from industry

Most of the job opportunities in the coming years are expected to come from replacing retiring workers. There will also likely be some opportunities due to new job creation as population densities increase.

Career positions are more available in areas of higher population density. This includes Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, the Okanagan, Kamloops, Prince George and the Kootenay. In some of these regions and in most other areas of the province volunteer firefighters are and will continue to be required to provide fire and rescue services.

In some suburban areas, rapid population and infrastructure growth, with increasing emergency call volumes, could result in the decision to convert volunteer departments to professional status. This would result in the creation of new full-time positions. On the other hand, amalgamation of municipalities or their services could result in job reductions due to increased efficiencies.

According to industry sources, there tends to be a steady supply of qualified candidates looking for work. There is currently a great deal of competition for available openings. However, increasing numbers of retirements, along with competition from other industries for workers, may limit the future supply of qualified firefighter candidates.

Most fire departments are trying to increase the diversity of the force, including the number of visible minority and female candidates.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Workers usually begin their career in this field as an entry level firefighter.

Progression to senior positions, such as investigator, training officer, captain, lieutenant, fire battalion chief, deputy fire chief or fire chief, is possible with additional training and several years of experience.

Firefighters with the appropriate experience and abilities may specialize in hazardous materials, technical rescue or other areas.

Firefighters may also advance to positions, such as training officers, public safety educators, fire safety inspectors or fire investigators.

Additional resources