Mathematics in Firefighting

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Kyle Smith
Math 1332
Fall 2011
McCullough-Pannell
How Mathematics is used in Firefighting

Math is used extensively in firefighting, partly because firefighters have so many jobs to do in the course of their work. As a volunteer firefighter, I have seen mathematics used in many areas of firefighting. If you don’t have a solid background in math, especially algebra, you will struggle to pass the required exams and have a hard time getting through many of the daily task required by firefighters. For instance, in pumping operations, rise over run calculations are essential, along with friction loss per foot of a pressure and volume of a moving water column in a hose line. You need to be quick thinking on your feet and know what formula/calculation you will be using because most of these calculations will be used in pressure situations. In a fuel loading situation, a basic formula is used to calculate given structure depending on its use and resources needed, including water supplies. Trigonometry and geometry are used to determine a given slope and fuel load as well. Temperature, wind direction and speed calculations are essential to safe brush and forest fire extinguishing. Firefighter aircrews have to use math to determine their fuel requirements and angle of attack for air drops of water and retardant over a wild land fire. As firefighters, we are required to obtain an EMTS certification during the course of our training. As part of this training we learn to determine heart rate, blood pressure and drug dosages which all use different math calculations. This is a very important part of saving lives and has to be done as precise as possible. Any error in a medical calculation can be extremely dangerous for person in need of help. On a lighter note, mathematics is even used when we are cooking dinner in the fire house. We measure out water, flour, sugar, etc. to prepare our meals together. As you...
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