When thinking of what it takes to become a successful firefighter, qualities such as strength and endurance may come to mind. While such qualities are necessary in order to accomplish the physical aspects of the job, physical abilities are only part of the equation. When it comes to putting your life on the line for others, character also plays a huge role in what makes a good firefighter. To determine if you have what it takes to be successful on the fire line, consider these character traits of a good wildland firefighter.
Integrity is one of the most important characteristics of top-quality firefighters. Firefighters serve as a representative of the department when they are on duty as well as off. As such, fire departments want people who are honest and have strong moral principles that will represent them in the best possible light.
After all, when public safety professionals end up in the news in a negative way, people tend to remember their occupation and place of employment more than their name. As such, when instances of misconduct occur, the public can lose trust in the firefighting profession as a whole and their ability to protect people’s property, safety, and lives.
In addition to maintaining trust with the public, a strong sense of integrity is also needed to maintain trust with the other firefighters in one’s crew who rely on them.
Another important character trait of a good wildland firefighter is adaptability. Fires are often unpredictable. As such, it is essential to be able to adapt and overcome a wide variety of challenging situations that may occur on the fire line.
In addition to adapting to unprecedented situations, good firefighters will also need to easily adapt to new people, living conditions, or job descriptions as needed. Essentially, when plans change—as they often do as a firefighter—you will need to be able to roll with the punches.
In order to become a successful wildland firefighter, it is also essential to possess the character trait of selflessness. The life of a wildland firefighter is not easy. Often, you will have to sacrifice your time, comfort, and own desires for the good of your other crew members and the community you serve.
In addition, wildland firefighters must be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice: their lives. If you aren’t prepared to put the needs and lives of others above your own, you will not be able to successfully carry out the duties of a wildland firefighter, which involve willingly entering into life-threatening situations on a regular basis.
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