Firefighting is the act of attempting to prevent the spread of and extinguish significant unwanted fires in buildings, vehicles, woodlands, etc. A firefighter suppresses fires to protect lives, property and the environment.
Firefighters typically undergo a high degree of technical training. This involves structural firefighting and wildland firefighting. Specialized training includes aircraft firefighting, shipboard firefighting, aerial firefighting, maritime firefighting, and proximity firefighting.
One of the major hazards associated with firefighting operations is the toxic environment created by combustible materials. The four major risks are smoke, oxygen deficiency, elevated temperatures, and poisonous atmospheres. Additional hazards include falls and structural collapse that can exacerbate the problems encountered in a toxic environment. To combat some of these risks, firefighters carry self-contained breathing apparatus.
The first step in a firefighting operation is reconnaissance to search for the origin of the fire and to identify the specific risks.
Fires can be extinguished by water, fuel or oxidant removal, or chemical flame inhibition; though, because fires are classified depending on the elements involved, such as grease, paper, electrical, etcetera, a specific type of fire extinguisher may be required. The classification is based on the type of fires that the extinguisher is more suitable for. In the United States, the types of fire are described by the National Fire Protection Association.
A firefighter's goals are to save lives, protect property, and protect the environment. A fire can rapidly spread and endanger many lives, but with modern firefighting techniques, catastrophe can often be avoided. To prevent fires from starting, a firefighter's duties may include public education about fire safety and conducting fire inspections of locations to verify their adherence to local fire codes.
Firefighting requires skills in fire suppression, rescue, and hazardous materials mitigation. Firefighters must also have, or be able to acquire, knowledge of department organizations, operations, and procedures, and the district or city street system they will have to negotiate in order to perform their duties.
They must meet minimum physical fitness standards and learn various firefighting duties within a reasonable period