A firefighter putting out a flame

When we think of firefighters, images of heroic figures battling raging infernos often come to mind. Thanks to Hollywood and popular culture, we've romanticized the profession, often overlooking the day-to-day realities of the job. 

While it's true that firefighters play a crucial role in protecting lives and property, the profession involves much more than just extinguishing fires. It's a career that requires a unique set of skills and personality traits. Understanding these can help you determine if firefighting is the right career path for you.

What Does a Firefighter Do?

A firefighter's primary responsibility is to respond to emergency situations and protect people, the environment and property from all types of accidents and emergencies. They work closely with the local community to increase their level of fire safety awareness to help prevent fires and accidents happening in the first place.

Daily tasks may include conducting drills and physical training, maintaining fire-fighting equipment, and conducting fire inspections in businesses and homes. Firefighters also provide emergency medical services. In fact, most calls firefighters respond to are medical emergencies, not fires.

There are also specializations within the profession. For example, some firefighters may work in hazardous materials units and are specially trained to control and clean up hazardous materials like chemical spills. Others may work in heavy rescue units and are trained in search and rescue techniques.

What Are the Skills Needed to Become a Firefighter?

Becoming a firefighter requires a unique blend of hard and soft skills. Here are some key skills required:

  1. Physical fitness: Firefighters must be in top physical condition to carry heavy equipment, climb ladders and deal with the physical stress of the job.
  2. Problem-solving skills: Firefighters often find themselves in high-pressure situations where they need to make quick decisions. They must be able to identify problems and decide on the best course of action in a matter of seconds.
  3. Communication skills: Firefighters need to communicate effectively with their team, other emergency services and the public. They must be able to give and follow instructions accurately and quickly.
  4. Emotional resilience: Firefighters often work in stressful and traumatic situations. They need to manage their emotions and deal with the emotional aftermath of emergencies.
  5. Mechanical aptitude: Firefighters need to understand how different types of firefighting equipment work. They must be able to operate and maintain this equipment effectively.

Which Personality Types Make the Best Firefighters?

Certain personality traits can make individuals more suited to the firefighting profession. Using the Big Five personality traits and TypeFinder types as references, we can link personality with professional aptitude.

Big Five Personality Traits of Firefighters

  1. Openness: Firefighters need to be open to new experiences and adaptable to change. They often face unpredictable situations and need to adapt quickly to effectively deal with emergencies.
  2. Conscientiousness: Firefighters need to be reliable, organized and thorough. They have a responsibility to maintain their equipment and ensure their team's safety.
  3. Extraversion: While not a necessity, being outgoing can be beneficial in community outreach and education roles within the profession.
  4. Agreeableness: Firefighters need to work well in a team and be able to build strong relationships with their colleagues and the community.
  5. Neuroticism: Lower levels of neuroticism may be beneficial for firefighters. They often work in high-stress situations and need to remain calm and composed.

You can take our Big Five personality test to see how these traits play out in your life.

TypeFinder Types of Firefighters

Certain TypeFinder types may find different aspects of the firefighting profession more suitable or challenging. For example, ESTJs and ESFJs may excel in this profession due to their practical nature, strong sense of duty and ability to thrive in team environments. ESTPs and ISTPs may also do well as firefighters because of their action-oriented nature and ability to quickly adapt to demanding physical environments. However, every TypeFinder type has unique potential within the profession.

Take our TypeFinder assessment to find out your unique type!

How to Become a Firefighter

If you're considering a career in firefighting, start by researching the profession and talking to professionals in the field. Consider volunteering at your local fire department to gain firsthand experience. You may also want to pursue a degree in fire science or a related field.

Taking career assessments can also be helpful in guiding your decision. Our Career Personality Profiler, Holland Code Career Test and DISC Personality Test can provide valuable insights into your personality and career compatibility.

Every personality has unique potential within the firefighting profession. Whether you're drawn to the adrenaline of emergency response or the satisfaction of community education, there's a place for you in the firefighting world. Remember, choosing a career is a significant decision, and it's essential to find a path that aligns with your personality and skills. So, take the next step: explore and discover if firefighting is the right career for you. 

Megan Malone
Megan holds an MS in organizational psychology and manages content and brand marketing at Truity. She is passionate about helping people improve their relationships, careers, and quality of life using personality psychology. An INFJ and Enneagram 9, Megan lives quietly in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband and two pups. You can chat with her on Twitter @meganmmalone.