10 important traits you need to succeed at fire fighting training and beyond
Fire fighting demands self-sacrifice, dedication and above all the desire to do some good in the world. It is a tough business, and in many senses, fire fighters need to possess a plethora of skills and characteristics if they wish to succeed in this highly demanding career path. But how do you know if you are suited to the occupation or a good candidate for fire fighting training? To help out, in just a few minutes of reading, find out the top 10 traits you should have to become a great fire fighter and take part in a rigorous fire fighting training course to kickstart your career.
Patience in order to succeed as a fire fighter and optimise fire fighting training
The trait and practice of patience is probably not what one would expect to find at the top of the list. Many may consider uncommon bravery to be the most important trait to possess as a fire fighter or fire fighting training candidate. However, this is misguided. Fire fighting is about much more than rushing into homes extinguishers blazing, and most days are spent hanging around the firehouse amidst co-workers – all of whom have their own distinct and unique personalities.
These co-workers are the people alongside whom you will be risking your life, and high stress occupations such as fire fighting certainly invoke tensions and emotional outbursts. Despite this, feuds and negative relationships are not an option – and being a patient mediator is an important skill in this instance. Having patience with oneself is equally as important, considering the trials and tribulations (and no doubt failures) a candidate may face during their fire fighting training and career. Having the patience to get up and try again is of the utmost importance.
Integrity required for effective fire fighting training and the industry
This should come as no surprise, as integrity is arguably the one trait that will determine the success of your career in the long term. As a public safety professional, there is no room for doubt as to your intentions and honour. Think about any time a public safety officer has been in the news alongside a bad headline for reproachable behaviour.
Their names are usually forgotten, but their occupations and department live on in the minds of the public, and more often than not, the negative connotations linger and hurt the reputation of your industry and place of employment. The trait of integrity is made up of 5 or more aspects or practices that a fire fighter or fire fighting training candidate must consistently keep in mind. To achieve integrity, you should model your behaviour according to the following:
Honesty is about more than telling the truth. Being an honest person requires openness and never taking advantage of others. Oftentimes the truth is inconvenient, and harsh – but this does not take away from the fact that honest communication requires timeliness and bravery. Refraining from “beating around the bush” or playing with words is to be avoided. Sometimes honesty requires opening your eyes to what is going on around you, whether the public is being misled, your place of employment is misusing funds or simply if you feel as if your performance in the field is not up to standards – and fixing the situation to the best of your ability.
At some point or another we have all been witness to reckless and insensitive behaviour in a variety of different situations that indicates a lack of respect. Being single-minded and inconsiderate is simply not an option should you choose to take part in fire fighting training and become a fire fighter. Respect is about exercising your common sense and stepping into someone else’s shoes before you act in a certain way. This may be difficult in fast-paced situations that come with this career, but applying the following in simple instances to the best of your ability is a step in the right direction:
- Look for information
- Ask questions politely
- Give the other person a chance to explain
- Respond accordingly with compassion
- Always be willing to change your opinion with the intake of new information
The age-old saying, “trust is earned,” is certainly apt in the fire fighting profession. It is generated through actions and open, honest discourse. When you show your teammates, employers, the public and even your fire fighting training teachers you are demonstrating that you are reliable and committed and can essentially be trusted. Unfortunately, trust can very easily be broken through actions, which is why someone in this profession ought to do their utmost to avoid negative interactions and always keep their word.
There are two types of pride; one, the undesirable one that comes with entitlement, and two; the pride that blossoms from caring about the expectations given to you by yourself, the public, your teammates and employers. When you are actively demonstrating commitment and enthusiasm as you go about your workday and assignments, you are taking pride in what you do – and it shows!
With great power comes great responsibility, and when the public and your team have placed their trust in you, you become responsible in maintaining it. You will be entrusted with the lives of civilians on what may be the worst day of their lives, and you must showcase your responsibility by doing your utmost best to help lessen their anguish and get them to safety. In the same light, you also become responsible for having the backs of your teammates when the going gets rough.
Exhibiting responsibility also has to do with taking accountability for your actions and promises. If you tell a friend you will cover their shift, you must do so; if you have exercises you must perform at home to keep fit; do them. At the end of the day, actions speak louder than words and undoubtedly will be plain to see in the fire fighting profession.
Physical fitness during fire fighting training and beyond
A good fire fighter and fire fighter training candidate must exhibit above-average agility and strength. This makes sense when considering the most crucial activities the profession requires. Fire fighters are exposed to extreme emergency conditions and are more often than not required to carry heavy equipment as they do so, which is why a commitment to maintaining an excellent level of fitness is highly necessary. A candidate showcasing this commitment sets themselves up for success in fire fighting training as well as their upcoming career.
As a public servant, you will undoubtedly enter into a variety of different relationships throughout your career, and all successful relationships require effective communication. Many people opt to favour one side of communication, talking, and neglect the other, which is to listen without the sole intention of building your next sentence. At your place of work, in public as well as in emergency situations, you will need to showcase your effective communication trait via intelligent, clear and courteous discourse.
Combining your patience and communication skills will be necessary when:
- Dealing with irate members of the public
- Using a radio to relay commands and crucial information
- Console distraught victims
- Support your co-workers
- Instruct the public to safety
- Liaise with police and other first responders
For many introverts, nuanced and effective communication can be tiresome and complicated, but this does not mean you should be deterred from taking part in fire fighting training or pursuing the career. Like any other skill, communication can be worked on and improved with time.
Adaptability and flexibility
Although two separate traits, they are more often than not duel-wielded by fire fighters. A flexible person can sleep anywhere, work under any conditions and can work on their own or with a team effectively. Someone who is adaptable can quickly become accustomed to an unfamiliar environment or situation, often an emergency, and make quick decisions accordingly. This comes in handy for fire fighters when considering the nature of their work, and who must maintain a clear presence of mind no matter what is going on around them.
It should come as no shock that like other occupations, not every duty in the fire fighting realm is exciting or noteworthy. There are undoubtedly assignments that are not as attractive as others, and rallying enthusiasm to get them done may be a challenge to say the least. Despite this, a fire fighter needs to showcase excellent dedication – and that means being willing to give their all to every task, whether it be filing a report, rushing into a burning building, washing a fire truck or simply folding uniforms. Because fire fighting is extremely team-oriented, dedication (or lack thereof) can be picked up on and have resounding consequences.
By now you should have some understanding of how important team work is in the fire fighting industry. In the profession, others are relying on you to do your job and unlike an office job or sales assistant, your decisions may mean life or death for your co-workers. The popular saying “a team is only as strong as its weakest member” is apt in the profession, and whether it be neglecting your exercise, ignoring new safety requirements or simply showing up late to work, you are jeopardising the effectiveness of your team. One could possess every quality on this list except for being a team player, and may find that the success of a long term and fruitful career in the industry is unlikely.
This refers to possessing some strong yet basic skills of handiness, such as operating power and hand tools, being able to assist in fixing something as well as how to operate simple machinery. Fortunately, mechanical aptitude can be improved with practice and perseverance during fire fighting training and on your own time. The bottom line is that you will ideally be able to contribute in the workspace when it comes to all things mechanical and not have to stand idly by as a result of ignorance.
Publicly aware and image-conscious
As already discussed with regards to integrity, a good fire fighter must always maintain a good public image. Whether we like it or not, we are arguably still judged by our appearances as much as our actions and conduct and these aspects are linked to your workplace and the industry in general. Wearing your uniform properly, keeping your hair as neat as possible as well as acting reserved in the public eye all contribute to maintaining a good public image. Your public image in truth has nothing to do with who you are as a person, so do not feel disheartened by having to “act” in a way that is not true to yourself.
Make no mistake, no matter how cool you think you may look in the uniform, or any ideas of grandeur glory, fire fighting is about sacrifice and selflessness. Bravery in itself is arguably just an act of selflessness, meaning that bravery on its own cannot be an isolated trait. The occupation is a service to the people in your area, and your role is to protect and serve the public. In many cases, fire fighters have sacrificed their own lives to protect people and their co-workers, the ultimate act of selflessness.
As a fire fighter, you will be expected to take part in fundraisers or activities for causes that do not benefit you, whether it be during or out of working hours, and do so with grace and genuine enthusiasm. Those who find this idea lacklustre cannot claim to be self-sacrificing and may not be a good fit for the career.