Firefighter – The All-Hazards Profession

“As the hazards Americans face have evolved, so has the services provided by our nations fire departments.”

August 19, 2017 – How was your shift? Did you make any fires? All firefighters receive this question on a near daily basis. There was a time when firefighters were known for one thing, fighting fires. I mean, the name says it all. Oh! And getting cats out of trees…


Throughout the years the fire service has dramatically increased its footprint. Things changed for most fire departments with the advent of EMS in the 1970’s. More recently, 9/11 and Homeland Security has had a major impact on the number of services provided by fire departments. As the hazards Americans face have evolved, so has the services provided by our nations fire departments.

Today, firefighting is an all-hazards profession. Fire departments are the lead organization for any emergency that does not involve a crime. And if it does involve a crime, firefighters are still there. The fire service is both the inventor and the master of Incident Command.

While firefighters still fight fires and get cats out of trees, they do so much more. If you’re in a car wreck, firefighters get you out and to the hospital. If you have a medical emergency at home, firefighters will be the first ones at your door. Odds are the paramedic in your ambulance is also a firefighter. Firefighters do it all:

  • Structural firefighting
  • Wildland firefighting
  • Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF)
  • Medical Emergencies (EMS)
  • Hazardous Materials Teams
  • Technical Rescue Teams – Confined Space, High Angle, Swift Water, etc..
  • Urban Search and Rescue
  • Maritime Rescue
  • Arson Investigation
  • Fire Prevention
  • Community Education
  • Emergency Management and Homeland Security


More recently, fire departments have added services such as:

  • Mobile integrated Healthcare (MIH)
  • Fusion Centers
  • Active Shooter Mitigation
  • Tactical Medics
  • Drone Programs


With the multitude of services provided by today’s fire service, does the title “Fire Department” still apply? Perhaps a title that better represents this all-hazards profession would bring greater awareness to its value? What are your thoughts?

*Lead photo credit:
Firefighter Apparel, Firefighter Uniforms, Firefighter Apparel Companies


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