Firefighting is the frequently dangerous act of extinguishing fires that threaten lives, property or the natural environment. Although the typical image of a firefighter involves the use of water being sprayed from a hose to put out a blaze, firefighting today is a practice that requires years of training in the use of special equipment and chemicals, as well as the support of scientists seeking to better-understand how fires can be brought under control. Firefighting also often includes specialized extrication of victims, as from crumpled automobiles, cave-ins (i.e., low-angle rescue), building or mountain rescue (i.e., high-angle rescue), etc. Firefighting under combat conditions has special challenges, and, increasingly, fire and damage control are basic military design goals, such as the transition to insensitive munitions and insensitive high explosives.
Access to the fire
Command and control
Fire services or fire departments are organizations of trained firefighters that respond to fires and other emergencies in a given geographic or administrative area, for which they are part of critical infrastructure. Departments are divided into various subcommands, typically down to individual vehicles. When a fire is sufficiently large as to need multiple units, even in the same department, the Incident Command System often is invoked for effective command and control. Especially large incidents that exceed the resources of a department will usually be met with predefined mutual aid agreements from neighboring departments, and, if necessary, with specialists up to national level.