Test Your Firefighting Knowledge With This Quiz



By: Ian Fortey

6 Min Quiz

Image: stevecoleimages/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Firefighting dates back to the invention of fire. We've always had to deal with a fire in one way or another, even when we had just short of no technology whatsoever to manage it. We've come a long way from the bucket brigades of old that had to pass those buckets of water hand to hand in an effort to put out a blaze. Nowadays, we have so much to help, from pump trucks to helicopters to airplanes capable of dumping huge payloads of water on forest fires. 

Knowing everything there is to know about firefighting is a daunting proposition. There's just so much out there. The history dates back thousands of years. The technology goes from as simple as a pry bar to as advanced as hydraulic trucks that can literally reach the tops of skyscrapers to save those in need. It's pretty amazing to go over everything and see what goes into trying to keep us all safe from fires. So the question is how much do you think you know right now about what it means to be a firefighter? If you think you have what it takes, then gear up and grab your dalmatian because this quiz is waiting for you. 

Part of your firefighter entrance exam will require you to carry equipment. How long of a section of hose do you need to carry?

There are some extensive physical components to becoming a firefighter, not the least of which is proving you're able to do the basics. Carrying a 50-foot section of rolled hose is something you could be required to do any day, so you need to be able to handle it.


Firefighters need to be able to administer first aid as well as they fight fires. The ABCDE method can help. What does the C stand for?

When you run across someone having a medical emergency they should ideally be assessed with the ABCDE method right way - Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Disability, Exposure. Once you know the method, it's useful for nearly any medical emergency.


There's been a major explosion downtown at 3 a.m. and many buildings are affected. Which one of these should get the least priority?

In an emergency situation like this, a butcher shop would be the lowest priority as at 3 a.m., there should be no one in a business like that assuming there's no apartment attached. The other buildings have a higher potential to have people in need of help.


How many breaths per minute is the normal rate for an infant?

20 to 30 breaths per minute is the normal rate of respiration for an infant. Obviously, this information is important to know during a rescue when a child may have been injured or exposed to smoke or toxic fumes that could affect their breathing.


What percentage of civilian fire deaths take place in a residential setting?

80% of civilian deaths due to fire occur in a residential setting, which is to say at home. That does make sense, as most fires that occur in an industrial or business setting will have more fail-safes to control them and they occur when people are awake, unlike many fires in the home.


What's the percentage of moisture content in wood that will make it too difficult to light under normal circumstances?

At 15% moisture, it becomes nearly impossible for wood to ignite, which is of course why we spray wood with water to try to stop it from burning. Chemical accelerants will alter this, though, and can promote burning in even wetter wood.


What is a class C fire?

Class C fires are also known as electrical fires. You 100% do not want to use water when fighting an electrical fire, as the risk of injury or death from electrocution is extremely high with all that water around.


What class of fire is fueled by flammable metals?

A Class D fire is a fire that's fueled by flammable metals. What kind of metals are catching fire? Usually alkali metals, things like potassium and magnesium but also titanium. Water is a bad choice for fighting metal fires since it can react with many metals and make it worse.


What are you dealing with when you have a Class K fire?

Even though a Class B fire is a flammable liquid fire, grease fires in the kitchen got their own classification as Class K because of the unique challenges they present that are different from a normal flammable liquid type of fire.


How long is a crosslay hose used in fighting house fires?

The fire truck will be carrying several crosslay hoses that measure 200 feet in length and have a 1.5-inch diameter. They can shoot water at a blaze at an impressive rate of 95 gallons every minute.


On top of some large firetrucks is a water cannon for fighting large blazes. What's it called?

The deluge gun is what you bust out when you mean business. Also found on fireboats and called a master stream, a deck gun and a fire monitor, this cannon can blast water out at a volume of 1,000 gallons per minute.


What's the diameter of the hose that firefighters will hook up to fire hydrants?

A fire truck will have 1,000 feet of 5-inch diameter hose stored in 100-foot sections. These are the hoses that connect to municipal fire hydrants. There will also be a couple of small sections measuring 25 feet and 50 feet for when 100-foot sections just aren't necessary.


Which one of these is a type of fire engine?

A quint is a fire apparatus that gets its name from the fact it's meant to handle a quintet of different jobs including pump, fire hose, water tanker, aerial ladder and ground ladder. It takes the place of several other trucks.


What does a fire truck do that a fire engine doesn't do?

Trucks and engines are not really interchangeable terms. The truck will have the hydraulic aerial ladder while the engine is the one that carries the hose and pumps. An engine can also have ladders, but they're the smaller ground ones that firefighters set up themselves.


Firefighters have to use a lot of equipment. What's the name of the tool with a spike and a hook on the end?

A pike pole looks a lot like an old-timey fireplace poking tool only with a much longer handle. They're an all-purpose tool that's good for both poking things out of the way and dragging things toward you.


How high does the aerial platform on a Bronto skylift truck extend?

When a fire breaks out in a skyscraper, a regular ladder truck just won't do. The Bronto Skylift can reach the top of a 30-story skyscraper and has a side reach of 84 feet, meaning there are few places that this giant truck can't reach.


What's the catchall term firefighters use to describe mobile equipment like tankers and ladder trucks?

When you hear firefighters talking about apparatus, they're referring to what most of us might call a fire truck. The reason is that there are actually numerous different kinds of vehicles and you can't call an engine a truck, or a quint an engine. Apparatus covers everything.


When a fire has burned nearly all the fuel in a space and the oxygen levels are low, then new oxygen is suddenly introduced, what is the explosive reaction it produces called?

A backdraft can be an extremely dangerous thing for firefighters or anyone else in the vicinity of a fire. The rapid reintroduction of oxygen causes those heated gases to reignite wit explosive force. The reaction can be incredibly quick and forceful.


If a liquid is considered combustible, what is its minimum flash point?

Any liquid with a flash point at or above 100°F is combustible, but there are still classifications in there. For instance, a Class IIIA liquid has a flash point of 140° and a Class IIIB liquid has a flash point of 200°F


What's a barrel strainer used for?

In some instances, firefighters will pull water from a naturally occurring source like a pond or a lake if that's the closest source of water available. You don't want fish and leaves and other junk in your water supply or clogging the hose.


This multi-purpose firefighter tool is used for prying, striking, punching and twisting. What is it?

A Halligan Tool is named for New York City Deputy Fire Chief Hugh Halligan. Halligan designed his tool in 1948 and even though it wasn't a sanctioned device, it proved so popular that other firefighters paid out of pocket to have their own made.


What was the point of dalmatian dogs in early firehouses?

Dalmatians are fairly bold dogs and were very comfortable around horses. Before the invention of motorized vehicles, when horses were in use, the dogs could run ahead of them to clear the road by barking and letting people know the firefighters were coming.


What do you call the team of firefighters whose job it is to stand by and rescue other firefighters if they need it?

The F.A.S.T or Firefighter Assist and Search Team is also called the Rapid Entry Team or Rapid Intervention Team. Their job is to be at the ready for when their fellow firefighters run into trouble and need rescuing themselves.


Which of these gases is inert?

Unlike hydrogen or propane which are highly combustible, helium is an inert gas that will not react to flame. It's worth noting that helium can still be pretty dangerous and you don't want to breathe in too much of it, since it can suffocate you.


What's the name of the official who enforces the fire code?

The fire inspector is also known as the fire marshal and mostly handles any administrative tasks that might be involved with the world of firefighting, including making sure buildings are meeting the fire code.


Before fire trucks were a thing, what did you call the group of people who would work together to fight a fire?

Before fire trucks or even fire wagons existed, the way to fight a fire was to use a human chain and a number of buckets in a bucket brigade. People would pass the buckets down a line from a water source to the fire.


In what year was the first formal volunteer fire fighting force founded in Philadelphia?

On Dec. 7, 1736, the Union Fire Company was founded in Philadelphia as the first official volunteer crew in the colonies. This was the original team of firefighters who popularized the name "bucket brigade."


Who famously co-founded the Union Fire Company in 1736?

Ben Franklin co-founded the Union Fire Company in 1736. He was inspired by a massive ship fire in 1730 that spread from the wharf to several warehouses and homes that he felt could have bee stopped if a team of people was organized to do so.


How fast should a firefighter be able to get from sitting around the firehouse to fully dressed for action?

A firefighter needs to be able to get fully dressed for action as fast as possible. It's expected, all things being equal, that they can pull that off in under two minutes. Once you're dressed, it's onto the truck and heading out to wherever duty calls.


About how many firefighters are there in America?

In 2015, there were 1,160,450 firefighters in the United States. At the time, only 30% of those, or 345,600 were actually career firefighters while the rest were volunteers. That means over 3/4 of a million firefighters in America are volunteers. Not bad.


According to the National Fire Protection Association, what percentage of firefighters are women?

According to stats from the year 2015, even though there are almost 1.2 million firefighters in the US, only 7.3% of those fighters are women. That works out to just under 85,000 women in total working as firefighters across the United States.


Which state has the highest median salary for firefighters?

New Jersey offers the best median salary in the United States for firefighters. The median salary is $75,420, which is pretty decent compared to states like North Carolina which offer up a median salary of only $33,760.


There are different colored helmets for different ranks among firefighters. Who wears a yellow helmet?

A yellow helmet will be worn by a company lieutenant. A chief officer, like the fire chief or deputy chief, will wear a red helmet while new recruits and probationary firefighters will wear orange. The different colors make it easy to find who you're looking for in a crowd or a hectic situation.


What does a smokejumper do?

Smokejumpers are firefighters who take on wildfires. They will literally parachute into remote areas to combat fires that simply can't be accessed by any other means. It sounds dangerous, and it is, but they also receive a lot of very specialized training.


What percentage of firefighters are over 40 years of age?

49% of firefighters are over 40 years of age. In 2015, 24% were between 40 and 49 years of age. An additional 17.2% were between 50 and 59 years of age and 7.9% were over the age of 60 according to the National Fire Protection Association.


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