Firefighters (historically, firemen) are rescuers extensively trained primarily to put out hazardous fires that threaten civilian populations and property, to rescue people from car incidents, collapsed and burning buildings and other such situations. The increasing complexity of modern industrialized life with an increase in the scale of hazards has created an increase in the skills needed in firefighting technology and a broadening of the firefighter-rescuer's remit. They sometimes provide emergency medical services. The fire service, or fire and rescue service, also known in some countries as the fire brigade or fire department, are some of the emergency services. Firefighting and firefighters have become ubiquitous around the world, wildland areas to urban areas, and on board ships.
According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, the English word "firefighter" has been used since 1903. In recent decades it has become the preferred term, replacing the older "fireman", since many women serve as firefighters, and also because the term "fireman" can have other meanings, including someone who sets or stokes fires - exactly the opposite of the firefighting role.
In some countries, including Australia, Canada, Chad, China, Finland, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden and the United States; there are often paid, or career firefighters working. Additionally, there are volunteer firefighters (who are theoretically unpaid) and retained firefighters (sometimes called on call or auxiliary firefighters, who are paid for the specific time they are on duty, i.e. permanent part-time career firefighters) on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In such countries as the United Kingdom and Ireland, the use of additional retained firefighters is standard. In Portugal, the use of volunteer firefighters is standard, along with career firefighters. In Australia there are volunteer brigades which are mostly unpaid rural services (although traditionally they are paid by their employers if called out during working hours).