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Common Firefighting Acronyms and Abbreviations

Part of the Firefighter Exam For Dummies Cheat Sheet

There are some firefighting acronyms and abbreviations every potential firefighter should know. Firefighters have a unique way of speaking, from their alphabet (“Foxtrot, India, Romeo, Echo” — yep, that spells “fire”) to their numerous acronyms (groups of letters that stand in for words or phrases) and abbreviations (shortened versions of long words or phrases). The following are some acronyms and abbreviations that you may see on the written firefighter exam or hear during your interview:

  • CPR: Acronym for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, an emergency procedure during which a rescuer creates artificial circulation through chest compressions, which pump blood through the heart, and by breathing for the victim through artificial respiration.

  • Hazmat: Abbreviation for hazardous materials, toxic materials that pose a threat to humans or the environment.

  • PASS: Acronym for “Pull — Aim — Squeeze — Sweep”; PASS is an easy way to remember how to operate a fire extinguisher: Pull the pin. Aim the nozzle. Squeeze the handle. Sweep the extinguishing agent back and forth across the flames.

  • PAT: Acronym for physical ability test, a timed exam that assesses candidates’ physical fitness, including strength, endurance, and flexibility, to ensure that they’re physically capable to begin a fire training academy.

  • PPE: Acronym for personal protective equipment; also called bunker gear or turnout gear, PPE refers to the special clothing firefighters wear to protect themselves from smoke, heat, and flames.

  • SCBA: Acronym for self-contained breathing apparatus; also called an air pack, an SCBA is a device that supplies a firefighter with breathable air when he or she is in a toxic atmosphere.

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