e-mentor Firefighter

Your Name (optional): Matt Keay

Male/female: Male

City: Markham

State/Province: ON

Country: Canada

Industry: Emergency Services

Job: Firefighter

Company (Optional): Town of Markham Fire and Emergency Services


Min.– High School Graduate / Preferred — College programs in fire related subjects, trades and trade school, university degrees. It is rare for a recruit to be hired without some post-secondary education.

Training/experience required (years, other jobs):

Varied and diverse backgrounds are essential to firefighter candidates. Trades and hands-on jobs are a good start. Mechanical aptitude is a must. Jobs which involve trouble-shooting, decision-making under pressure, teamwork and dealing with the public. Firefighters must have shown these traits as well as physical and emotional capacity to get the job done before being considered.

Explain what you do:

To put it simply, firefighters help people. Usually when we see them, they are having a bad day and when they see the fire truck arrive they expect a solution–that is what we try and provide, efficiently and with compassion. Firefighters respond to medical emergencies, vehicle collisions, rescue situations (water, entrapment) hazardous materials and, of course, fires. However, we also participate in public relations and education capacities, such as school programs and special events or displays.

Why should kids choose your career path?

If you don’t like the idea of a desk job, like interacting with people, and like the idea of being able to help people, in small and large ways, firefighting may be for you.

What would you recommend career wise and how should kids approach/develop their preparation for a working life?

Education is essential to any field you want to enter. Stay in school and strive to get as much of an education as possible. Try to keep your education diverse and your mind open to new things — the only opportunity wasted is that which is missed. Knowledge is power — before you enter a program of study for a particular field, talk to people working in that field and try job-shadowing to determine if this career really is for you.

Lessons learned:If you started all over again what would you do differently?

I am fortunate that I found a career I enjoy so much. However, if I had it to do again, I would have researched it more to ensure it was the best fit for me (fortunately I made a lucky decision).

A favorite anecdote, phrase, or expression relating to business that inspires you:

Do what you love and love what you do. Finding a job is the short part — pick something you could see yourself doing with the same passion in twenty-five years — ow you’ve found a career.

Other suggestions or relevant information you would communicate to kids regarding careers in general:

Be motivated to work hard and there is no limit to what you can achieve, but always take time to have fun along the way and enjoy the journey.