Fire Safety Merit Badge Answers: A ScoutSmarts Guide

If you’re preparing to earn the Fire Safety merit badge, you’re in the right place! In this guide, we’ll be covering information such as how to handle flammable materials, how to respond to public or home fires, and the role of firefighters in your community. Afterward, you’ll be able to answer each question on your merit badge worksheet and earn the Fire Safety merit badge!

You’ve reached part 2 of my ultimate guide to the Fire Safety merit badge! If you’re new to ScoutSmarts, you should first check out part 1 for the answers to requirements 1-6 of the Fire Safety badge.

If you’ve come over from part one, congratulations! You’ve already learned a ton of useful info, and you’re about to learn so much more! Give yourself a big pat on the back. 🙂

Now, let’s get back into it! Take the time to closely review and think through requirements 6-13 of the Fire Safety merit badge, written out below. Then, I’ll give you a detailed run-through of everything you’ll need to know to earn this useful badge!

What Are The Fire Safety Merit Badge Answers?

  1. Conduct a home safety survey with the help of an adult. Then do the following:
    6d. Explain how you would report a fire alarm.
    6e. Explain what fire safety equipment can be found in public buildings.
    6f. Explain who should use fire extinguishers and when these devices can be used.
    6g. Explain how to extinguish a grease pan fire.
    6h. Explain what fire safety precautions you should take when you are in a public building.
  2. Do the following:
    7a. Demonstrate lighting a match safely.
    7b. Demonstrate the safe way to start a charcoal fire.
    7c. Demonstrate how to safely light a candle. Discuss with your counselor how to safely use candles.
  3. Explain the difference between combustible and noncombustible liquids and between combustible and noncombustible fabrics.
  4. Do the following:
    9a. Describe for your counselor the safe way to refuel a liquid fuel engine, such as a lawn mower, weed eater, an outboard motor, farm machine, or an automobile with gas from an approved gas can.
    9b. Demonstrate the safety factors, such as proper ventilation, for auxiliary heating devices and the proper way to fuel those devices.
  5. Do the following:
    10a. Explain the cost of outdoor and wildland fires and how to prevent them.
    10b. Demonstrate setting up and putting out a cooking fire.
    10c. Demonstrate using a camp stove and lantern.
    10d. Explain how to set up a campsite safe from fire.
  6. Visit a fire station. Identify the types of fire trucks. Find out about the fire prevention activities in your community.
  7. Determine if smoke detectors are required in all dwellings within your municipality. If so, explain which specific types are required. Tell your counselor what type of smoke detectors your house has or needs.
  8. Choose a fire safety-related career that interests you and describe the level of education required and responsibilities of a person in that position. Tell why this position interests you.

Fire Safety Merit Badge Requirement 6:

6d) Explain how you would report a fire alarm.

If you notice an out-of-control fire, it’s your duty as a good citizen to find and pull the nearest fire alarm! A pulled fire alarm will create a loud continual sound, alerting the other people in the building so they can also escape in time. If you encounter an adult on your way to pull the alarm, alert them of the emergency.

While escaping a burning building, avoid using elevators and try to evacuate the building as quickly as possible. If you’re leaving a room with an uncontrolled fire within, be sure to close the door behind you if you’re the last one out. This will greatly slow the fire’s spread and save lives!

Never, for any reason, reenter a burning building until you’re told that it’s safe. The structure may have been weakened by the fire, and could collapse unexpectedly!

After you’ve escaped and are at least a block away from the burning building, you should call the fire department. If you have your cell phone on you, call 9-1-1. If you don’t have your cell phone, don’t waste time trying to find it. Go to the nearest building and ask them to call 9-1-1 for you.

Remember though, although it’s important to quickly report fires, don’t pull an alarm without being 100% sure it’s actually an out-of-control fire. False alarms can distract firefighters from actual emergencies, and panicked people can be hurt while evacuating. Make sure to only use fire alarms to report real emergencies!

6e) Explain what fire safety equipment can be found in public buildings.

Most public buildings keep a variety of tools that can help to slow or prevent fires. In addition to fire alarms, buildings that are up to code will have the following types of fire safety equipment:

  • A series of smoke detectors to pick up any signs of fire.
  • Fire extinguishers at key locations to put out small fires or bide time for those who are trapped. 
  • Emergency escape ladders and routes.
  • Non-flammable building materials to slow the spread of fire.
  • Automatically-closing doors to stop fires from spreading.
  • Sprinkler systems that are activated by heat
    • These rely on a glass bulb filled with chemicals that expands when coming into contact with air between 135 and 165 degrees — the heat breaks the glass and sets off the sprinkler!

By knowing about the different types of safety equipment that are out there, you’ll be able to identify these tools in each building you enter! Knowing what’s available before needing it is a key step to being prepared. This can help you to respond effectively to any kind of fire emergency! 🙂

Fires aren’t the only hazards you should be ready for. To learn the best methods of responding to the most common disasters I’d highly suggest checking out my Ultimate Guide To The Emergency Preparedness Merit Badge!

If you don’t already have the Emergency Preparedness merit badge, you should definitely start it ASAP! Not only is it incredibly interesting to learn, but Emergency Preparedness is also required for Eagle.

6f) Explain who should use fire extinguishers and when these devices can be used.

Fire extinguishers should only be used by adults who’ve used them in the past, unless the situation is a complete emergency. Too often, untrained people try (and fail) to use a fire extinguisher instead of just evacuating, making the problem worse. 

A fire extinguisher can effectively stop a small, new, contained fire, but it will not do much good against a fire that has spread. Therefore, do not attempt to use a fire extinguisher to control large fires. Also, don’t use an extinguisher once the room you’re in has been filled with smoke.

Below are a few situations where a fire extinguisher should be used by a trained individual:

  • A trash can that’s on fire
  • Food that’s caught fire within a microwave or oven
  • A single object, like curtains, in a contained space
  • An electrical plug or appliance that has just caught fire
  • A candle that has been knocked over onto a rug, but has not spread too much yet.

Keep in mind that you should NOT use a normal fire extinguisher to put out a grease fire (you’ll learn why in the next section)! Also, you won’t have the time to read the fire extinguisher instructions during an actual emergency, so don’t try. A normal house fire can double in size in under 1 minute!

Even though fire extinguishers should only be used by responsible adults, one day that responsible adult will be you! To learn how to properly use a fire extinguisher using the P.A.S.S method, I’d recommend watching the quick video (1:26) below:

If you want to learn more about actually using a fire extinguisher (outside the scope of this merit badge) check out the US Department of Labor’s informative fire extinguisher page.

Be aware that some extinguishers can be quite heavy, so make sure you can handle the ones in your home. In the case of most fires, you should simply sound the fire alarm, evacuate the building to a safe distance away, and wait for the firefighters to arrive.

6g) Explain how to extinguish a grease pan fire.

Grease pan flare-ups are one of the most common causes of home fires. However, they shouldn’t be a major threat once you know how to handle them correctly!

The best way to put out a grease pan fire is simply to place a metal lid over the burning pan to starve it of oxygen. However, if a grease fire is burning out of control, it should be put out by using a class B dry chemical fire extinguisher. DO NOT try putting water or flour on a grease fire, as it will explode and burn you!

While a Class B Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher (Amazon link so you can check it out) isn’t something you’d typically find in most kitchens, it’d be a good idea to get one if you cook with oil very frequently. Otherwise, be sure that you have a full-coverage lid or large cookie sheet handy before you begin cooking (to cover the burning oil).

From the thorough research I’ve done so far, it seems as though baking soda (NOT baking powder!) is commonly used on grease fires, as it smothers the flames by releasing CO2. However, there’s supposedly an even more effective way to put out grease fires…

SALT. Yes salt, my friend, is argued to be an even better method of putting out grease fires than baking soda. This is because it pulls so much heat out that the oil that flames can no longer exist.

Both salt and baking soda put out fires through different mechanisms (lowering temp vs smothering with CO2) so I’d recommend giving both a try if you can’t simply cover the pan with a metal lid!

To recap, if your cooking grease ignites, immediately turn off the heat source and cover the pan. It’s also a good idea to use a potholder to position the pan’s opening to face away from you. Give the pan at least five minutes to cool and check the walls and surrounding cabinets for any signs of fire damage.

Since these types of fires are so common and dangerous if improperly handled, I want you to take a final minute to review the key steps for putting out a grease fire:

  1. Cover the burning oil with some sort of metal lid to starve it of oxygen
  2. Try pouring baking soda into the burning oil
  3. Pour a ton of salt (like the whole container) into the burning oil.
  4. Spray the fire using a dry class B chemical fire extinguisher (A B C extinguishers will work). Keep in mind that this will not be fun to clean up, so I’d recommend not starting with this option
  5. If none of these methods work, or if you begin to feel weak, immediately evacuate and call 9-1-1.

Got it? With this knowledge, you now know how to effectively handle grease pan fires! 🙂

6h) Explain what fire safety precautions you should take when you are in a public building.

When in a public building, the best fire safety precaution you can take is to have a good awareness of your surroundings. Before settling in, make sure to locate the fire alarms and fire extinguishers. Also, be aware of all exits and any potential threats that may slow your evacuation. 

The main fire safety precautions to remember for flare-ups in public buildings include:

  1. Having a plan to communicate/meet up with friends and family if you need to evacuate
  2. Being in strong enough physical shape to escape through windows or obstructed walkways
  3. Being aware of fire hazards, escape routes, and safety equipment
  4. When leaving a burning room, always closing the door behind you if you’re the last person out
  5. Keeping calm and trying to encourage others to remain composed as well

If a fire does break out, remember that it’s crucial to stay calm. Help others to evacuate the building in an orderly fashion, as injuries can occur when people are panicked. By following these 5 key precautions, you’ll be ready to respond to any fires that might occur in a public place!

7a) Demonstrate lighting a match safely.

Matches are the essential Scouting fire-starter, at least in my troop! Because it’s a bit harder to light fires with matches than with lighters, these sticks are a great way to test a scout’s knowledge of fire-making. Besides, if you can’t light a full campfire with just 3 matches, can you really call yourself a true scout? 😉

A match looks like a toothpick, with one end rounded and differently colored. The rounded end is called the matches ‘head.’ A match head is actually a thin coating of phosphorous sulfide, which is a flammable chemical that ignites in the presence of friction.

To safely light a match:

  1. Grasp the match firmly, with your fingers positioned at least 1cm below the match head.
  2. Hold the match head to the rough part of the matchbox (This is usually a red strip along the box’s side).
  3. Swiftly push the match head along the rough part of the matchbox, maintaining contact the entire way.
  4. Keep the head of the match pointed upwards at all times to avoid burning your fingers.
  5. You may want to reposition your hand lower on the matchstick. However, you’re only likely to be burnt if your fingers are very close to, or above a fire.

And there you have it! By understanding the mechanics of lighting a match (rubbing phosphorous sulfide against a matchbox’s rough area causes the initial fire, and its wood burns to keep the match lit!) you’ll be able to use them safely and effectively. Remember though, matches are not toys. Always use them safely, with adult supervision.

7b) Demonstrate the safe way to start a charcoal fire.

There are a lot of safe ways to light charcoal, so let’s first talk about what could make lighting charcoal unsafe. Sometimes, people without proper knowledge of fire use WAY too much lighter fluid, which can become a huge fire hazard. First, I’ll tell you how to start a charcoal fire using lighter fluid. Then, I’ll tell you about some alternatives you can try with your troop!

If you’re using lighter fluid (which isn’t typically recommended in Scouting, as it’s a fire accelerant) make sure not to pour it directly onto open flames. You should pour a small amount of lighter fluid over dry coals. Then, let it sit at least 5 minutes to soak in. Finally, light one of the outermost coals, and move it towards the pile using a stick or tongs.

Personally, I like to cook without lighter fluid whenever possible. There’s honestly no need! If you have a bit of newspaper, simply crumple it into a roll and place a few coals over it to heat up. Once those coals begin smoldering, move them over to your main pile and they’ll all light! Suddenly, your charcoal fire will be #lit! (sorry for the terrible pun 😛 )

To see a great demonstration of what I’m talking about, and to learn a few other methods of safely starting a charcoal fire without lighter fluid, check out the informative video (5:02) below:

Charcoal is a useful way to light cooking fires, especially if your campsite doesn’t have any dry, dead wood around. However, if you do use charcoal to cook, be sure to keep it in your fire pit and pour water on it after you’re finished. Charcoal stays hot for hours, even if it doesn’t look lit, and it can cause forest fires if improperly disposed of!

7c) Demonstrate how to safely light a candle. Discuss with your counselor how to safely use candles.

As we’ve already covered in part 1 of the Fire Safety merit badge, flames always point upwards because heat rises. So, if you’re holding a small lighter or match and you point it downward to light a candle, what happens? The flames will go upwards and might even burn your fingers! Here’s how we fix that.

To safely light a candle, follow the simple instructions below:

  • Light your flame. Then, hold the match/lighter in your dominant hand.
  • Grab the unlit candle with your other hand and tilt it to its side, towards your dominant hand, at a 30-45 degree angle.
  • Slowly tilt your flame towards the candle’s wick.
  • Move your dominant hand to hold the flame just below the candle’s wick. If you do this correctly, the match/lighter and wick should both meet diagonally so that you won’t burn your fingers!
  • Keep it there for a few seconds until the wick lights.
  • Then, put out your match by pulling it away then blowing on it. Or, simply release the fuel button on your lighter.

Make sure to avoid keeping candles in bedrooms or near curtains, and remember to put out any candles before leaving a room. Fallen candles are one of the main causes of home fires, so always practice proper fire safety and take caution while using them. With this, you now know how to safely use candles!

Personal Pro-Tip: If you have a really bad candle with a small rim, you can also light the end of an uncooked stick of spaghetti of fire and follow the same instructions as listed above! This will greatly extend your reach, although you won’t be able to eat the burnt spaghetti later on…

8) Explain the difference between combustible and noncombustible liquids and between combustible and noncombustible fabrics.

To fully understand fire safety, you’ll need to know the differences between materials that are combustible, versus those that are non-combustible. Basically, combustible materials require less heat to become vapor, and these vapors are flammable under ordinary temperatures. Therefore, combustible things can very easily catch fire.

Whenever a container of combustible liquid is exposed to air, a fire is possible with even the smallest spark. Common combustible liquids include gasoline, lighter fluid, and aerosols. Meanwhile, common combustible fabrics include open-weaved, textured, and loose-fitting materials like cotton sweaters and scarves.

You should avoid bringing combustible liquids indoors, as the vapor, in addition to being flammable, can have negative health side effects when inhaled. If you must work indoors with flammable liquids, such as aerosols or industrial cleaners, be sure to wear a mask and keep them away from heat sources and sparks. 

Non-Combustible Liquids and Fabrics

On the other hand, noncombustible objects are things that will not easily catch fire when exposed to sparks and heat. For example, water is non-combustible!

To help make people safer, it’s possible to make normally combustible materials and fabrics noncombustible. For instance, while synthetic fabrics may normally be at risk of burning, many products such as children’s sleepwear, mattresses, and carpets, are treated with fire-resistant coatings to decrease their flammability. 

Among fabrics, the style of material tends to determine combustibility. In general, heavy, dense, smooth, and tight-fitting materials are less likely to burn. This is why firefighters, even when courageously charging into raging infernos, wear heavy suits with low breathability!

9a) Describe for your counselor the safe way to refuel a liquid fuel engine, such as a lawn mower, weed eater, an outboard motor, farm machine, or an automobile with gas from an approved gas can.

You should only pour gas through a nozzle which can enter a liquid fuel tank safely. This nozzle is to prevent gasoline from being spilled, as spilled gas will kill plants and can create a fire hazard.

The simple way to use a gas can to refuel an engine is to open the back vent cap, insert the flexible nozzle into the fuel tank. and then slowly pour the gas. You should slowly reduce the steepness of your pour as you see the tank filling. Once finished, cap the gas can and put it in a safe area.

However, around 2015 or so, there was some sort of environmental law passed to make gas cans safer and less likely to spill. These types of cans are a bit trickier to use and have a spout that needs to be pushed in for the gas to flow. I’d recommend checking out the short video (1:34) below for a visual explanation of how to pour gas from a new gas can:

Most new types of gas cans have some subtle differences, so you should read the manufactures instructions beforehand to be sure of what to do. While following the basic steps that you saw in the video, be sure to keep these safety rules in mind:

  • Allow an engine to cool before filling it with gas. Never put gas into a machine that’s running!
  • Try not to spill any gas on the ground or surrounding parts of the machine.
    • If you do spill any gas, simply wipe it away with a disposable cloth (The cloth will then be flammable, so handle it accordingly). Thankfully, gasoline also evaporates very quickly.
    • You shouldn’t run an engine if it’s covered in gas. Clean it off as thoroughly as possible and then wait a bit for the flammable gas to evaporate.
    • BTW, in the Fire Safety merit badge book it says, “If any spills occur, thoroughly rinse the engine with lots of water.” According to the many websites I checked, this advice is wrong and dangerous. If you’re a BSA employee, it’d be cool if you could maybe look into fixing this strange recommendation. 🙂
  • Keep the gas tank on level ground where it cannot be tipped over.
  • Refill tanks at least 6 feet from any structures that can catch fire. Also, never refuel an engine near open sparks.
  • Replace the gas cap and allow any gasoline spillage to dry before starting the motor. A little spillage is common though, and will quickly evaporate.
  • Keep the gasoline can far away when starting the motor. If a fire does break out, it at least your gas can won’t ignite.
  • To keep the engine in peak condition, it’s best to fill the tank to an almost-full state (without spilling, of course).

It’s also important to do any refueling in a well-ventilated (ideally outdoor) area and to avoid inhaling the gasoline’s fumes. By following these steps, you should be able to safely fill any liquid fuel engine with gasoline!

9b) Demonstrate the safety factors, such as proper ventilation, for auxiliary heating devices and the proper way to fuel those devices

The term, “Auxiliary Heating Devices” is a fancy way of saying a portable heater! The opposite, an auxiliary cooling device, would simply be a portable fan or AC unit. Auxiliary heating devices can be anything from large patio heaters, small warming lamps, or even common home radiator heaters.

Heating devices are the second most common cause of fires in the home. Because electrical (not gas) auxiliary heaters are most common these days, I’ll be covering how to use those safely. Before using any sort of heater, make sure you’re familiar with the following safety tips:

  • Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions before using any heating device.
  • Never cover your heater, as materials could catch fire if they overheat or block your heater’s air intake.
  • Plug your heater directly into a wall outlet, never an extension cord. Heaters use a lot of power, so plugging them into an extension cord could cause a short-circuit.
  • Keep loose wires away from any heat sources, as these plastic cords could melt.
  • If you’re using a gas heater or burning wood, only ever do it in a well-ventilated area or outdoors. Burning these compounds creates carbon monoxide, which is the lethal, odorless gas we talked about earlier.
  • Avoid using damaged or very old heating devices with frayed cords. These could malfunction and present unnecessary dangers.

I’d highly recommend you also avoid using any heating device that must be fueled indoors (because of carbon monoxide poisoning) unless your 110% sure that it’ll be safe. To fuel a heating device, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Most will be filled in the same way that we covered in requirement 9a).

10a) Explain the cost of outdoor and wildland fires and how to prevent them.

Death and personal injury are some of the main costs of wildland fires, which are fires occurring in rural areas like forests or brushlands. Furthermore, uncontrolled wildfires can also lead to the loss of natural habitats, animals, and property, which harms humans and our planet, alike. 🙁

In terms of financial costs, it takes a lot of taxpayer money to send trucks, firefighters, and equipment to put out fires. In the case of a volunteer fire crew, these individuals are risking their lives and losing wages they could be earning from their other jobs whenever they come out to fight a fire.

How To Prevent Wildland Fires

To prevent wildland fires, it’s important to be very aware of your surroundings. Do not attempt to build campfires in dry seasons, high winds, or in an area that’s under a fire ban. Even if a fire appears to be put out, do not leave it smoldering unattended, as a gust of wind could reignite it.

Leaving no trace is another important method of preventing wildfires. Always try to pack your trash out, and avoid leaving paper plates, napkins, or other flammable trash in the outdoors.

Although wildland fires are a necessary part of the ecological cycle, (they clear out the build-up of dead wood so that larger forest fires don’t occur in the future) make sure you do everything you can to avoid starting one of these fires yourself!

10b) Demonstrate setting up and putting out a cooking fire.

In this and the next requirement, you’ll need to demonstrate your ability to use fire-based camp tools safely. These skills are best learned through hands-on work, so I’d highly recommend asking an older scout to walk you through each one if you’re not familiar with them already.

As demonstrating these skills incorrectly could lead to an accidental fire, I’d also recommend setting some water buckets aside and getting proper adult supervision.

First, I’ll be briefly reviewing how to start a camp cooking fire. To keep your fire hot for a long time, you’ll need to choose large pieces of wood or use charcoal. This provides a constant heat, which is ideal for cooking.

Now that you know what type of wood to choose, watch the informative video (3:23) below for best practices when setting up and putting out cooking fires:

I normally use the log cabin setup when building my cooking fires, as it creates an even surface that I can begin cooking on right away (if I’m super hungry). You should pack your logs more densely if you want your fire to burn for a longer period. The more oxygen that gets in, the faster your fire will burn!

After you’re finished with your fire, remember to slowly pour water over it and stir it around with a stick. This will ensure that no leftover embers fly off and start a forest fire. With this knowledge, you should be now ready to set up a cooking fire of your own!

10c) Demonstrate using a camp stove and lantern.

Most camp stoves and lanterns are propane-based. This means that to be turned on, the propane gas must be let out and then ignited. However, there are a lot of different types of camp stoves and lanterns, so it’ll be best to ask one of your senior scouts how the ones in your troop work.

In general though, some things to keep in mind are to let the gas out slowly, and to make sure there are no leaks in the connection. If your stove or lamp is having trouble lighting, be sure to turn off the main propane source before inspecting it.

For more info on different types of camp stoves, I’d recommend checking out requirement 8 of my guide to the Camping merit badge.

10d) Explain how to set up a campsite safe from fire.

By putting into practice all the information you’ve learned so far, you’re well on your way to keeping your campsite safe from fires! Below are a few other fire safety tips you should keep in mind when setting up your campsite:

  • Have a troop plan and alarm to quickly alert all of the campers if a fire breaks out.
  • Make sure that any dry leaves and flammable garbage are well away from any tents or structures with people in them.
  • Thoroughly extinguish all fires when you’re finished using them. Never leave a fire to burn unattended.
  • Finally, when going to bed each night, ensure that all fires and lanterns have been put out.

When building campfires, you should make sure that there are no fire restrictions in your area. If fires are permissible, build them in a well-contained pit of stone or mineral soil, ensuring that they are well away from trees. Keep your campfire small, as large fires release sparks and ash that can float away and ignite later on.

If you’re cooking with a propane stove, make sure that you know how to use it before setting up camp. Always cook on level ground and do not overload your stove with too many pans or too much food. Also, never fuel the stove inside the tent as this is a fire hazard. Remember to give your stove time to cool, under supervision, before storing it for the night.

11) Visit a fire station. Identify the types of fire trucks. Find out about the fire prevention activities in your community.

This is a really fun one! First, find a fire station near you using Google Maps. Give them a call, and tell them about the Fire Safety merit badge you’re in the process of earning. Then, simply ask them for a tour! Most fire stations love teaching young people about fire safety, so it should be easy to schedule a time.

I’d recommend you come prepared with lots of questions, and maybe even bring a camera. Personally, I’ve toured a fire station before, and it was a super interesting experience! So that I don’t spoil too much, I’m gonna leave this one to you now. Hope you have a great time and learn a ton! 🙂

12) Determine if smoke detectors are required in all dwellings within your municipality. If so, explain which specific types are required. Tell your counselor what type of smoke detectors your house has or needs.

This answer will differ depending on where in the country you live. For your own local regulations, I’d recommend Googling “smoke alarm requirements” followed by the name of your city.

For instance, when I was growing up, I could’ve Googled “smoke alarm requirements Honolulu.” The first result is a detailed document stating that “According to the 1994 Uniform Building Code Section 310.9.1 adopted by Hawaii, residents are required to install smoke detectors in all new and renovated dwelling units.

In the document, there were also some general guidelines. This said that fire alarms are required in every hallway and bedroom and that they must be installed away from curtains and air vents. Now, it’s time to research your own area’s laws to determine whether your house’s smoke detectors meet your local requirements!

13) Choose a fire safety-related career that interests you and describe the level of education required and responsibilities of a person in that position. Tell why this position interests you.

Becoming a firefighter, whether as a volunteer or professional, can be a very rewarding experience. However, to become a firefighter you’ll need to meet several requirements:

  • First, age requirements. Firefighters must be 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license.
  • Next up is education. To become an entry-level firefighter, you’ll need at least a high school diploma or equivalent GED.
  • To advance in your career and join a more funded fire department, or to move into the fire investigation ranks, a bachelor’s degree in fire science is highly recommended. Some very highly qualified firefighters also obtain their EMT and paramedic certifications.

As every fire presents a life-and-death situation, firefighters must be in outstanding physical condition. They’ll need to be able to work for long hours at a breakneck pace in extremely difficult conditions. Just a few of the skills included in a firefighter’s physical training test include:

  • Stair Climbing
  • Hose Dragging
  • Equipment Carrying
  • Ladder Raising and Extension
  • Forced Entry
  • Ceiling Breaching/Entry
  • Search and Rescue.

If you’re still in school and trying to get in shape to become a firefighter, participating in certain sports can help to better your chances of meeting the physical requirements! For example, cross country can increase your stamina, while sports like wrestling and weightlifting can provide strength and high-intensity anaerobic training.

Responsibilities of a Firefighter

In addition to putting out fires, firefighters also have a host of other responsibilities as part of their job. In fact, part of being a firefighter is also being a great citizen! Many firefighters are actively involved in educating young people and communities on fire awareness and what to do in the event of a fire. 🙂

Some other responsibilities of firefighters might include inspecting buildings for potential fire hazards or forming plans for if a fire were to occur. Firefighters must also be the first to arrive on the scene of traffic accidents to provide emergency medical services and to put out automobile fires.

Firefighters can even specialize in specific areas to earn a higher paycheck! For instance, different types of senior firefighters can investigate the cause of fires, enforce safety codes for building projects, or prevent more complex fires relating to chemical/industrial spills.

The Benefits of Becoming a Firefighter

There are many benefits to becoming a firefighter. First and foremost, there’s a lot of satisfaction in knowing that you’re helping to keep your community safe. This is why volunteer fire departments continue to thrive across the country! Especially in rural communities, volunteer fire departments can deeply connect to their communities to provide an important pillar of support.

Firefighters can also make a very comfortable full-time living by fighting fires in densely populated areas! For instance, in states like New Jersey and California, experienced firemen can earn around $80,000 each year.

When large blazes spring up in understaffed areas, seasonal “hotshot” firefighters, can be brought in from around the country to battle the fires, together. Seasonal firefighters working in California, Colorado, and Arizona can get paid very handsomely for this work, with some skilled hotshots making over $100 per hour!

While being a firefighter is a dangerous and unpredictable job, it might be the right choice for the most courageous and selfless individuals. If you’d like to become a firefighter, even as a volunteer, I definitely applaud you! As someone who’s definitely not a firefighter, I can say that there are few careers out there as noble as putting one’s life on the line to fight fires.


Congratulations, scout! You did it. By now you should have a strong understanding of how to use fire safely and responsibly. If a sudden blaze were to break out, you’d know exactly what to do, whether that’s putting it out or evacuatingYour knowledge could save lives one day, so remember it well!

If you found this post helpful, I’ve also written guides to many of the other Eagle-required merit badges! I’d definitely recommend checking out my difficulty rankings for every Eagle-required merit badge if you haven’t seen it already. 

Hope this resource helped you to answer every requirement on your Fire Safety merit badge worksheet! I’m looking forward to having you back at ScoutSmarts soon because I’m constantly uploading new content to help scouts like yourself. For more merit badge guides and freebies, you can also sign up for my ScoutSmarts Scribe Newsletter!

Until next time, best of luck on your Scouting journey! 🙂

(Click here to visit part 1 of my guide to the Fire Safety merit badge!)


I'm constantly writing new content because I believe in Scouts like you! Thanks so much for reading, and for making our world a better place. Until next time, I'm wishing you all the best on your journey to Eagle and beyond!

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