Firefighters prevent the loss of life or property due to fire. They perform a variety of tasks including aircraft rescue, structural, wild land and shipboard firefighting, automobile extrication, hazardous material, and confined space/high-angle rescue. Fire investigation, fire prevention and life safety inspection are also areas of expertise.
The primary responsibilities of Firefighters are to:
- Perform rescue, extinguishment, ventilation, overhaul, and forcible entry operations
- Drive and operate all types of firefighting vehicles
- Inspect and test fixed fire suppression and detection systems
- Maintain fire department equipment such as ladders, hose, rope, breathing apparatus, extinguishers, personal protective equipment, and all associated rescue equipment and vehicles
- Perform inspector duties, conduct inspections, and project reviews in order to make recommendations and corrective measures
- Provide peer and public instruction and education
- Provide helicopter rescue and damage control services as a member of a firefighting team while onboard ships
- Respond as part of an Airfield Engineering Squadron
- Respond to aircraft cable engagements and provide mobile arrestor gear skills
- Perform emergency medical response
Although members of the Air Force, Firefighters may work to support Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army or Royal Canadian Air Force operations. Firefighters provide 24 hour fire protection by working in teams that rotate responsibilities and shifts, and are supported by day staff that includes the Fire Chief, Deputy Fire Chief and Inspectors. Firefighters may deploy away from their home base in support of military operations in Canada or abroad for up to six months. Appropriate training, environmental clothing and equipment are provided.
Pay and career development
The starting salary for a fully trained Firefighter is $60,000 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Firefighters serve with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) by working on various bases throughout Canada, onboard ships and in military missions. Firefighters may be required to move to a base anywhere in Canada.
After four years, the Firefighter must serve approximately three years as a Corporal as part of a ship's crew, during which they may serve on a mission at sea for up to six months. Over the course of their careers, Firefighters will normally serve three tours with the Royal Canadian Navy.
Firefighters who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training. At some point in their career, some Firefighters may have to opportunity to become instructors at the Canadian Forces Fire Academy.
Related civilian occupations
- Structural Firefighter
- Airport Firefighter
- Fire Inspector
- Fire Service Instructor
Basic military qualification
The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the CAF physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.
Basic occupational qualification training
Firefighters attend the Canadian Forces Fire Academy in Borden, Ontario. Training takes approximately 7 months and includes the following topics:
- Operation of fire apparatus
- Structural operations at the site of a fire
- Fire and life safety practices
- Aircraft rescue firefighting operations
- Rescue during situations presenting special problems
- Operation of portable fire extinguishers
- Operation of fire apparatus ancillary equipment
- Wild land operations at the site of a fire
- Map reading
- Physical fitness standards
- Hazardous material awareness
Firefighters may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:
- Structural firefighter
- Airport firefighter
- Fire inspector
- Fire investigator
- Fire instructor
- Hazardous material incident commander
- Fire officer
- Hazardous material technician
The minimum required education for this position is the completion of secondary school (or Secondaire V) with Grade 11 Academic Math (or Math 536 in Quebec) and one Science (Chemistry, Physics, or Physical Science) for Grade 11 or Secondaire V in Quebec. Foreign education may be accepted.
Applicants to the Firefighter occupation must have a valid driver’s licence.
If you already have a college diploma, the CAF will decide if your academic program matches the training criteria for this job and may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic training and military occupation training is required before being assigned.
Firefighter is a very popular occupation and, as a result, very competitive. Successful applicants often have additional education in a related field or previous experience as a full- or part-time firefighter. Applicants should be physically fit, follow a physical fitness program and pursue an active and healthy lifestyle.
All applicants are required to successfully pass the Firefighter Pre-Entry Fitness Evaluation prior to beginning training at the Canadian Forces Fire Academy.
This occupation is available part-time within the following environment: Air Force
Serve with the Reserve Force
Limited positions are available for part-time employment through the Reserves. Reservists generally work part-time for a Reserve unit on a main operating base or Air wing in their community. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.
Firefighters serve with the Royal Canadian Air Force. They prevent the loss of life or property due to fire and perform a variety of tasks to support Forces training and operations. Firefighters employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis usually serve at a military base, wing or unit locations within Canada.
Reserve Force training
Reserve Force members usually begin training with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required basic professional military standards. Following basic military training, occupational training for Firefighters takes approximately 14 weeks and is conducted at the Canadian Forces Fire and CBRN Academy in Borden, Ontario.
Typically, Reserve Force members work or train with their home unit. Reserve Force members may work up to twelve days a month in either a shift-work schedule or regular work days. They are paid 85 percent of the Regular Forces rates of pay and receive a reasonable benefits package.
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