Probably one of the most dangerous oil and gas careers is that of an oil and gas firefighter. These firefighters work in the petroleum industry tackling blowouts in oil rigs. Blowouts can occur either above ground or below ground. They occur when pressure inside one of the earth's layers has built up after drilling the ground for so many years. Eventually, pressure builds up and causes a blowout the next time the earth is penetrated.
Blowouts can be very severe, making firefighting one of the more dangerous of the oil and gas careers. Many blowouts cause property damage or death. Although not all blowouts cause fires, they can cause poisonous gas, oil, and saltwater to be released into the environment. Fighting fires in the oil wells is also known as wild well control. Oil well firefighters often work in dangerous and remote locations in all types of weather. These oil and gas careers require a lot of hard work and skill.
Oil well firefighters in oil and gas careers do not follow a normal work schedule. Although oil well fires are not very common, when they do occur, they can be extensive, sometimes taking months to extinguish. Therefore, these types of firefighters may not work for weeks, but when a fire breaks out, they may have to work long, intense hours for months at a time. These oil and gas careers require the use of heavy equipment and explosives to put out the fires. Some companies use relief wells to divert pressure so that the fires can be controlled and extinguished more easily. Several types of drilling, including directional and horizontal drilling, can be used to drill close to the blowout and release some pressure. Cement is often used to control blowouts that originate underground.
Those who choose oil and gas careers involving firefighting need to be very brave and skilled in the proper methods to fight these types of fires. Firefighter training is required. Although there are no schools that offer training specifically for firefighting for oil and gas careers, training can be obtained from any institution that offers firefighting training. A popular school to look into is the Texas Engineering Extension Service. In conjunction with Texas A&M University, the Texas Engineering Extension Service offers a program that is known for training many firefighters who have gone on to specialize in fighting oil well fires.
These oil and gas careers are not entry-level jobs. Most companies want to hire the best, and this usually means individuals with 10 or more years of experience. Expect to start out working in other areas and work your way up within the petroleum industry. It's a good idea to start out in other oil and gas careers to learn the ins and outs of the business and complete firefighter training. Training in using heavy equipment and explosives is highly recommended. Some knowledge of petroleum engineering is also an asset. Many of those in oil and gas careers have a military background, and this type of experience is useful in firefighting as well. With more and more companies starting to use robots for the more dangerous blowouts, those with a background or interest in robotics or electronics may find positions as oil well firefighters. These oil and gas careers boast very high salaries, which are based on location and experience. One can expect to make six figures as an oil well firefighter with some veterans in the field earning $200,000 or more plus benefits. Although this seems like a large amount of money, there are some drawbacks to the position. Oil well firefighters must be on call 24 hours a day, every day of the year. They must be ready to fight a fire at any time. When a fire does occur, oil well firefighters can expect to be away from their families for weeks or even months at a time while they contain the fire.
Last Updated: 05/15/2014
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