The truly heroic men and women who undergo rigorous mental and physical training, and risk agonizing injury or death, to defend our communities against an enemy more relentless than any human foe.

This fairly new word in English usage is stronger than the older word for the same concept. Back when only men would be firefighters, they were called firemen. Using the word "firefighter" may have been sparked by ideas of "political correctness," but the result is a word that conveys its meaning more vividly and forcefully than before. (Arguing the merits and problems of political correctness in general is something I will leave for others. All I say here is that the coining of this particular word has been a good thing for the English language.)

There are many types of firefighters. One distinction is between the volunteer firefighter and the professional firefighter. Another is between the urban firefighter who fights structure fires and the wildland firefighter, who fights forest fires. A distinction is often drawn between engine and truck firefighters, based on the differing capabilities of their apparatus. The increasing role of the fire service in emergency medical services has meant that many if not most firefighters are also EMTs and some are paramedics. Some specializations of firefighting include working the rescue squad, becoming a HAZMAT specialist or arson investigator, or being promoted to command positions.

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