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Every year, fires take many lives and destroy billions of dollars worth of property. Fire fighters help to protect people and property. They often save people who are trapped in burning buildings. They also treat people who are hurt or ill, both at fires and in other situations such as at the scene of an accident. In fact, most calls that firefighters respond to involve medical emergencies.
Most firefighters are paid by the city or local community that they serve. In other areas, there are groups of volunteer firefighters. Some fire fighters work at airports or in factories. Others work in forests and rural areas. Special fire fighters, called smoke jumpers, fight forest fires. They parachute from airplanes to remote areas.
Many people want to become firefighters because it is challenging and it gives them a chance to help others. But fighting fires is dangerous, and it takes organization and teamwork. To protect themselves from flames, smoke, poisonous gases or other hazardous materials, fire fighters wear protective gear which can be heavy and hot.
Firefighters undergo special training where they learn to prevent and put out fires. They also learn how to use axes, chain saws, fire extinguishers, ladders, and other tools. They study local building codes and emergency medical procedures such as first aid. After completing this training, they are assigned to a fire station.
Fire fighters live at fire stations much of the time. Most fire stations have living rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms. In between alarms, fire fighters must clean and repair their equipment. They practice fire fighting skills, and they may perform fire inspections. They often visit schools to teach fire safety.
Fire fighters have to be healthy, strong, and brave. They exercise to keep physically fit. When the alarm sounds, fire fighters must respond rapidly. They also need to be alert and self-disciplined. A fire fighter makes quick decisions, so good judgment is important. They must be able to get along well with others because they live and work closely together.
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