There is more to firefighters than walking into burning buildings to rescue people or saving frightened cats stuck in trees. The fire department is home to some of the most courageous people on earth. Unlike most jobs, in firefighting, danger is always lurking and one small mistake can cost lots of lives and destruction to property. If you’ve always been fascinated by firefighters or are planning to become one, here are some unique facts about them.

1. Firefighters Sometimes Use Wet Water

Most people always wonder whether the water in fire trucks differs from the ones used at home. Well, sometimes, firefighters use wet water. This special type of water has been combined with liquid concentrates to reduce its surface tension, thus allowing it to penetrate materials easily and stop the spread of fire. This technology was incorporated in the 1960s. The phrase “water is wet” usually used to show that something is obvious, now makes more sense.

2. An NYC Firefighter Was in a Coma for 10 Years and Woke Up with Intact Memory

Don Hebert was an NYC firefighter who fell into a 10-year coma after a roof fell over him. Surprisingly, the father of five not only woke up 10 years later but also had all his memories intact. Unfortunately, while trying to get out of bed, he fell, had a brain injury, and died due to pneumonia a year later.

3. Firefighters are Expected to Be Fully Dressed in Less Than 2 Minutes

While on duty, firefighters are expected to be fully dressed in less than 2 minutes after receiving an alert. Urgency in the fire department is vital. Therefore, all the gear is strategically placed, making it easily accessible. The most fascinating part about this quick dress-up is that some of their gear weighs as much as 60 lbs.

4. Dalmatians Were Once the Go-To Fire Dog Breed

In the era when the fire truck was a horse-pulled carriage, firefighters often used Dalmatians as fire dogs. This breed is friendly to horses and wouldn’t spook them away from the scene as the firefighters worked. Also, Dalmatians did a great job protecting the horse carriage when the firefighters were away.

However, as time passed, firefighters shifted from Dalmatians to German Shepherds, Border Collies, Labradors, and Golden Retrievers. They are believed to be more adept at tracking people who may be stuck in gravel.

5. In 2017, More Firefighters Died of Suicide than in the Line of Duty

Statistics provided by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center observed that the number of suicide deaths among firefighters was more than line-of-duty deaths in 2017. During that period, 103 firefighters took their own lives compared to 93 who died while saving lives and property. This study’s publishers emphasized the need to address mental health issues not just in the fire department but also in the police force.

6. There are about 100 Firefighters Convicted of Arson in North America Every Year

Many fire departments worldwide have to deal regularly with arson from firefighters. These are fires started by firefighters to earn overpay or showcase their skills. In North America, the issue is quite rampant because in 2016, a renowned firefighter, Edward Nordskog, highlighted that there are about 100 firefighters convicted of arson every year. Such reports are often hidden from the public by the fire department.

7. Steve Buscemi Returned to His Old Firefighting Job on 9/11

Many know Steve Buscemi for his impeccable acting skills in Armageddon, Fargo, Reservoir Dogs, and The Big Lebowski. However, very few people know about his firefighting career. Apparently, Steve Buscemi worked for four years as a firefighter in the Engine 55 in NYC. During the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the iconic actor returned to Engine 55 and worked 12-hour shifts as a firefighter digging through the rubble.

8. All Firefighters in Chile are Volunteers

In most countries, the fire department often comprises of both paid workers and volunteers. However, in Chile, the script is a little different; all firefighters in the country are volunteers, and they are not paid. The government only provides fire equipment and gear.

9. Firefighters Have Master Keys for Knox Boxes in Many Major Cities

A Knox box is a small safe found in many buildings that contain keys to the premises. Firefighters in many cities often possess the master keys to Knox boxes so that they can quickly enter a building without forced entry.

10. Molly Williams was the First Female Firefighter in 1815

Before the 1800s, firefighting was a job that was solely set aside for men. This is why people working in the fire department were only called “firemen”. However, in the early 1800s, many firemen in the US were suffering from a Cholera outbreak, so the department was lacking.

Noticing the gap, Molly Williams stepped up for this task and was declared the first female firefighter. She was also the first female African American firewoman. Before that, Molly Williams was enslaved by Benjamin Aymar, who was affiliated with the department she joined, Oceanus Engine Company #1. There, she got the name tag Volunteer No. 11. Years later, Judith Livers became the first woman to be hired as a firefighter for the Arlington County Fire Department.

11. Firefighters are Not Allowed to Grow Beards

All forms of facial hair, including beards and sideburns, can interfere with the seal on Respiratory Protection Equipment. As a result, all firefighters are discouraged from growing beards as a clean-shaven face guarantees a safer Respiratory Protection Equipment Seal.

12. Firefighters Can Handle More Than Just Fire-Related Emergencies

The fire department can handle a wide range of emergencies, from earthquakes to floods and other natural disasters. Firefighters are also trained in basic medicine, plumbing, electrical wiring, and mechanics in case of accidents. This explains why firefighters have a good reputation for saving animals in various scenarios.

13. Firefighters Do Not Have Regular Working Hours

Firefighting differs greatly from the regular 9 to 5 job; a firefighter’s working hours can be very complex. Depending on the city, a firefighter can be asked to attend 10-12-hour shifts, with some extending to more than 24 hours. Fortunately, they are always given sufficient time to rest after heavy missions.

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Last Update: June 28, 2024