Firefighting is the act of attempting to prevent the spread of and extinguish significant unwanted fires in buildings, vehicles, woodlands, etc. A firefighter suppresses fires to protect lives, property, and the environment.
Firefighters typically undergo a high degree of technical training. This involves structural firefighting and wildland firefighting. Specialized training includes aircraft firefighting, shipboard firefighting, aerial firefighting, maritime firefighting, and proximity firefighting.
One of the major hazards associated with firefighting operations is the toxic environment created by combustible materials. The four major risks are smoke, oxygen deficiency, elevated temperatures, and poisonous atmospheres. Additional hazards include falls and structural collapse that can exacerbate the problems entailed in a toxic environment. To combat some of these risks, firefighters carry self-contained breathing equipment.
The first step in a firefighting operation is reconnaissance to search for the origin of the fire and to identify the specific risks.
Fires can be extinguished by water, fuel or oxidant removal, or chemical flame inhibition.