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After successfully completing the Tidewater Regional Fire Academy (TRFA), Firefighters, also known as uniformed personnel, are assigned to the Fire Operations Division working a non- traditional shift schedule, approximately 56 hours in a work week. All Firefighters work this non- traditional shift schedule during their first six years. However, once promoted to Master Firefighter or above, assignments may include a 40-hour work-week in a position outside the fire station.
For Firefighters assigned to a fire station, the shift begins at 8:00 am. Firefighters change into their uniform and relieve the offgoing shift. The incoming shift immediately conducts a thorough check of all personal protective gear, which includes a turnout jacket, pants, boots, air supply and personal alert device. It's imperative that the Firefighters ensure their personal protective gear and equipment is in proper working order. Once the personal protective gear check is completed, the fire truck is checked and equipment is made ready for service. Daily truck maintenance includes washing the truck, cleaning equipment, and if necessary, changing batteries on radios and heart monitors. Firefighters are also responsible for cleaning their station. The crew cleans, mops and vacuums all living areas and bathrooms. After all the routine checks and facility maintenance tasks are done, the Company Officer facilitates a crew meeting. The Company Officer provides the crew an agenda for the day's activities. The Firefighter's priority is to respond to fire and medical calls. All scheduled activities are altered depending on emergency incidents.
Throughout the day, Firefighters will respond to many different calls for service. Those calls may include structural fires, technical rescues, medical emergencies and hazardous material spills. When not responding to a service call, Firefighters perform on-site drills and continuous training in order to improve and/or maintain their firefighter skills. In addition, each station has gym equipment to provide the one hour of physical fitness training required while on duty. Some of the other daily activities may include pre-fire planning, hydrant maintenance and child safety seat installations.
As the evening approaches, the crew prepare their meals and have dinner together. Following the meal and kitchen clean up, Firefighters have time to relax, while still being ready to answer the calls for service. This time can be used to read, study, work on projects, or participate in non-job related relaxing activities. At around 11:00 p.m., Firefighters retire to the bunkroom to sleep. During this time, Firefighters are still available for immediate response to emergencies. The shift ends the following morning at 8:00 a.m. with the in-coming shift change. This is a typical day for a Firefighter.