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Military Service and Firefighting

Paul Lepore

Physical fitness is emphasized in the military. As a result military men and women are usually in very good shape. This is extremely important to the fire service, because the number one reason entry-level candidates fail out of the academy is due to poor physical fitness. In addition, a physically fit firefighter will miss less time due to injury than a firefighter who is not fit. Military personnel have been taught the importance of a life-long physical fitness program and the importance of proper diet. These good habits will be shared with the firefighters in the station.

Military people demonstrate respect for authority and understand the chain of command. The fire service operates on the same hierarchy principle as the military. The group clearly understands code and honor. These qualities are extremely important in the fire service, because firefighters are held to a higher standard than the average person in the community.

Military men and women are used to working in a structured environment. They understand the importance of doing something right the first time. Similar to the fire department, people’s lives are impacted if things are not kept in a constant state of operational readiness. Firefighters must check out their equipment each and every day. They must know the intricacies of each tool kept on the engine or truck. Training and continuing education are essential to the fire service. It is imperative that firefighters are able to work unsupervised; completion of a job or task is a reflection of them.

Getting along in the fire station is critically important to being successful in the fire service. Courtesy to fellow firefighters is critical. Cleaning up after oneself is expected. This is one of the first things military men and women learn in basic training.

One of the strengths found in military men and women, however, is also commonly a cause of strife during their probationary year. People who have earned rank in the military are used to giving orders. As a rookie firefighter you are expected to take orders, not give them. Humility is an extremely important quality to possess as a rookie firefighter. Oftentimes rookie firefighters who have spent time in the military are older than the average candidate.