5 Jobs in the Fire Service

Firefighter. The job that everybody knows, but what other jobs can firefighters do, other then what they are commonly known for - fighting fires.

1. Aerial Appliance Operator/Driver

The Fire Service classes any fire where external firefighting operations cannot be conducted with the use of a standard ladder as a high rise fire. This equates to roughly a 4-storey house or building, so there are plenty of those around. That is where aerial appliances come in, to quite literally extend this capability for external firefighting, amongst other tasks.

The job of an aerial appliance driver or operator is a varied one, they can be used for rescues out of high or in-accessible windows or platforms, they can provide incident commanders with information from a vantage point in the air or carry out firefighting roles, most importantly they can be used to deliver large quantities of water onto a fire from height.

The appliances are crewed by two, a driver and a operator. Their shift will follow the normal watch system, normally this role will be a firefighter that has the additional skills and qualifications and at the start of the shift will be assigned to the aerial appliance.

2. Specialist Rescue Technician 

Specialist Rescue Technicians are firefighters with specialist skills, different fire services have different names for them, but they all fall into the same role. Whilst all firefighters are required to carry out rescues, SRT's will normally be mobilised to support at incidents that require greater expertise. This includes road traffic collisions, rope rescue, HAZMAT, extended duration breathing apparatus along with animal rescue to name a few examples.

Firefighters will carry out a SRT or FRU course, this will give them the basic skills to ride a special rescue appliance. Normally these will be an addition at a fire station, at larger fire stations, firefighters will be assigned to the rescue unit at the beginning of a shift, this means that firefighters will rotate between a normal fire engine and a special rescue unit keeping up skills in both.

3. Usar - urban search and rescue

This will be a role taken by an experienced specialist rescue technician firefighter. USAR teams specialise in finding and freeing people from buildings that have collapsed.

To acheive their goal, they have a range of specialist equipment, such as listening devices, lifting and cutting equipment, search cameras and props for shoring.

Firefighters in this role will normally keep the role of a specialist rescue technician and be mobilised when required to their USAR role.


Different Fire Services around the UK utilise different types and sizes of fire boats, some will be inflatable and carried on the back of fire appliances, others such as London Fire Brigade have a fully crewed river fire station that has 2 fire boats. This will be the type we have a closer look at.

Before being assigned to work at a river fire station, the firefighter will have spent a number of years at a normal fire station where they would have applied and been put on to a waiting list. Once selected they go onto a fire boat course and gain the relevant experience and training to work on and operate a boat on the Thames.

The river fire station follows the normal watch pattern and firefighters will live on the Thames for the duration of their shift.

The fire boats can be mobilised for all types of incidents, including putting out fires from the water, rescuing vessels and rescuing people and animals that are in distress from both mud or water.

A great asset of the fire boat is that it can put out fires on buildings facing the Thames that firefighters may be struggling to access from the bank side.


Fire Services around the UK continually invest in research and new technologies, out of this came a drone.

A drone team will normally consist of two firefighters, one to pilot the drone and one to operate the camera. The drone can provide a live aerial view on an incident, giving commanders on the ground the information they need to best and safely tackle it.

Firefighters in the drone team will have been operational firefighters for a number of years before, they will have years of experience and normally be an officer. After applying and acceptance into the role, they will then embark on a drone course which includes licensing from the Civil aviation authority.





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