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Professional firefighting in the United States is often traced back to the 17th Century; most notably, the Boston fire of 1631. In the early days of firefighting, fire departments were, for lack of better words, social organizations. From the earliest firefighting operations consisting of bucket brigades, to the latest high-tech equipment designed to extinguish fires, firefighters have always been our heroes! We applaud them when they extinguish fires and save lives, we mourn them when they lose their lives. Firefighting is often thought of as putting the wet stuff on the hot stuff (water on fire); however, firefighting goes much deeper than fire ground operations. Although new technology plays an important role in protecting the lives of firefighters and the community they serve, firefighters must be academically and professionally prepared to lead fire and emergency service organizations. Twenty-first century firefighters must be capable of managing human resources, interpreting employment law, managing budgets, writing grants and leading their organization ethically. This paper discusses the professionalization of firefighters through training, education and policy.

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Fire Science and Firefighting

Professionalization of the Fire Service: There’s More To It Than Putting the Wet Stuff on the Hot Stuff