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Is one allowed to be a firefighter if he might be required to work on Shabbat? or is he allowed to, in order to save lives?

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@DoubleAA, I don't think that's the same thing -- finding yourself in that situation might be different from choosing an occupation that you know will place you in that situation. (That said, I know enough Jewish doctors who do or did do rotations in hospitals to suspect that this is permitted, though I don't know under what circumstances.) –  Monica Cellio Oct 30 '12 at 23:55
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Also, welcome to Mi Yodeya! I'm glad to see you've registered your account and I look forward to seeing you around. –  Double AA Oct 31 '12 at 0:01
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@Ariel It's not about where he lives, but what the question he is asking is. Any lemaaseh question should be posed to his personal Rabbi. –  Double AA Oct 31 '12 at 3:36
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The issue isn't just about placing oneself in an occupation where you must break Shabbos to save a life, you are also expected to save property. –  Yirmeyahu Oct 31 '12 at 4:26
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@Yirmeyahu We generally assume nowadays that any significant fire is a threat to life because it can easily spread to other buildings. But yes, answers that touch on that would be good. –  Double AA Oct 31 '12 at 4:41
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2 Answers

When I was an EMT I lived in a place where there were many Jews in the rescue squad. The local rabbis told us to arrange a rotation which ensured that there was always someone to answer calls but that we didnt have more people than we need.

I would say that Jewish firefighters should try not to be on-call on shabbat but if they need to respond to life threatening emergencies they must.

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This sounds like a huge risk to me. Weren't you ever short a person? –  Charles Koppelman Oct 31 '12 at 14:50
    
But what about the duty to extinguish a fire to save property, either after the people have been brought to safety or to save an empty building? What if there no significant danger of it spreading? –  Seth J Oct 31 '12 at 18:21
    
if we were ever short we had mutual aid from other neighboring towns. there were also backups on call. –  Eytan Yammer Dec 2 '12 at 3:02
    
tAs far as I know there is no permission to extinguish fire to save only property. If ther eis a danger of spreading or to life and limb (which there almost always is) then of course the fire must be extinguished. –  Eytan Yammer Dec 2 '12 at 3:03
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As far as I know, since Fire-Fighting is all about rescuing lives (~ Pikuach Nefesh, פיקוח נפש) then it has priority over all other Mitzvas.

Source from Wikipedia: Here.

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Felix, welcome to M.Y. Unfortunately, as mentioned in several comments already, firefighting involves saving property, not just lives. How do you justify that under פיקוח נפש? –  Seth J Oct 31 '12 at 18:22
    
isnt a large fire considered a threat to life –  daniel Nov 1 '12 at 2:20
    
@SethJ, as long as it's also lives - it's פיקוח נפש. –  JNF Nov 1 '12 at 6:25
    
See also meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/q/1390. –  msh210 Nov 1 '12 at 7:14
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