Much like their civilian counterparts, Army firefighters are responsible for protecting lives and property from fire. These soldiers control and prevent fires not only in Army structures but aboard aircraft and ships as well. They also supervise and conduct firefighting, rescue, salvage, and fire protection operations.
This important Army job is categorized as military occupational specialty (MOS) 12M.
Training for a Job as an Army Firefighter
Following the requisite ten weeks of Army Basic Training (also known as "boot camp), new soldiers in this MOS head to Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas to attend the basic fire protection course at Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy.
During this intensive 13-week course, soldiers learn firefighting techniques like prevention, emergency medical care, rescue activities, ladder and ventilation practices, how to handle hazardous materials, and how to conduct aircraft rescue firefighting.
They also learn how to drive firefighting trucks and emergency rescue vehicles, and perform other emergency response duties. This may include protecting high-risk missiles and weapons as well as other Army equipment.
Duties of MOS 12M
As the title suggests, the primary job of Army firefighters is to put out and prevent fires on Army facilities, vehicles, and aircraft. They direct rescue and firefighting operations during structural fires, aircraft crash incidents, vehicle emergencies, and natural cover fires. They're also tasked with directing emergency response crews during hazardous materials incidents, and for keeping records on fire department operations.
Conducting controlled burns and learning how to manage wildfires are also on the list of duties for Army firefighters. In short, you'll be expected to handle most situations with fire, and know how to contain a situation relatively quickly.
How to Qualify as Army MOS 12M
To become an Army firefighter you need a score of at least 88 on the general mechanical (GM) area of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) tests. You'll also need a valid state driver's license.
The Department of Defense does not require a security clearance for this job, but you need normal color vision, so if you're color blind, you're probably not eligible.
If you have any history of pyrophobia, acrophobia or claustrophobia, you likely won't be able to qualify as an Army firefighter (and probably would not be a good fit for the job anyway).
Character traits that will be useful for those pursuing MOS 12M are similar to those that make good combat soldiers. You should be able to stay calm under pressure, be willing to risk personal injury to help or rescue others and be able to make decisions quickly in intense situations.
Similar Civilian Occupations to MOS 12M
The most obvious equivalent civilian job is being a firefighter for a municipality or a regional fire company. You will indeed be well equipped and well trained for such work. But you could also pursue work as a fire inspector or investigator and may be qualified to work as part of a hazmat team.