In almost every industry, it’s only natural for slang words to originate that are like their own language among employees or colleagues. If you want to impress your fellow firefighters as a new hire to the squad, you’ve got to know, what is jobtown?
Jobtown is a firefighting term that refers to a structural fire that’s at risk of causing significant property damage. Essentially, going to “jobtown” means you are on your way to a structure fire.
Of course, jobtown is one of many firefighting slang terms you’ll hear during your time in the department. In this article, we’ll elaborate more on the definition of jobtown and then share 8 other firefighting slang terms and reveal their meanings!
When you hear someone on the squad talk about going to jobtown, they’re usually pretty excited. They’re referring to a structural fire.
Structural fires are rather common, as a 2022 article from The Zebra cites a state from the National Fire Protection Association or NFPA that found that every year, 358,500 homes will be involved in a structural fire.
A structural fire can occur residentially or to industrial and/or commercial buildings. When the structural components are at risk, this is a structural fire.
Structural fires require an all-hands-on-deck kind of response with EMS units, chief officers, rescue squads, ladder trucks and fire engines arriving to the scene.
Your fire department might even have a plan for how it will deal with Jobtown fires. In that case, then it’s about more than merely understanding slang so you can feel cool among your fellow firefighters.
You want to understand what’s being said so that you can act efficiently when on the job.
When referring to jobtown, most firefighters use this slang term in regards to a place they’re going as well as to refer to the nature of the fire itself.
So why jobtown, you may ask? Some fire departments refer to fires as jobs, which makes sense since putting out a fire if how a firefighter makes their living.
Thus, jobtown is a natural extension of that.
8 More Firefighter Slang Words to Learn
As we made clear in the intro, jobtown is one firefighting slang word of many. Here are 8 more integral ones you’re bound to hear as you work in a fire department. We’ll also divulge their meaning so you can learn all the lingo.
The “Can Man“
If you’re just starting out in a fire department, then you may very well be the can man or woman.
A can man’s responsibility is to carry the watering can that will be used, at least in part, to put out the fire.
This is a classic rookie assignment, so outside of the newbies, probies will also be deemed the can man or woman.
If you hear your fellow firefighters calling you this, just grin and bear it. For now, you are the can man, and you have to continue putting your nose to the grindstone to get past that level.
When a fellow firefighter asks for redline, they’re referring to a very specific hose line.
The redline is 1 inch in diameter and releases water at a rate of 60 gallons per minute. It’s also, appropriately enough, red.
Best used for dwelling fires, trash fires, and car fires, redline is on a reel so it can easily be grabbed and deployed.
The redline is also commonly referred to as a “trash line.”
Besides the can man, another role that you might hear of among firefighters is what’s known as a truckie.
As you may have guessed by the name, a “truckie” is a firefighter who works on a truck company.
Unlike being the can man or woman, there’s no low-rank association with working as a truckie. That’s simply just your role at the department.
Now this is a slang term that’s sure to get firefighters squabbling!
Being called a Jake can either be a very good thing or a very bad thing, and it all depends on where you live.
In some geographic regions, especially on the east coast, being called a jake means that you’re a good firefighter. However, in other regions, if someone calls you a jake, it means you’re terrible at your job.
So how do you tell the difference? It’s all about context.
If you are called a jake in a negative way, then you should strive to do better.
Ever hear of a “fire buff”? It’s actually not the same as a firefighter. I wrote an entire article explaining what a fire buff is and why it matters. Click the link to check it out.
Being “On the Tip”
No, firefighters aren’t tipped for their work even though maybe they should be.
Rather, when you hear of firefighters refer to a tip, they mean the nozzle of a fire hose. That’s really about it!
When you’re on the tip of a handline, this means you’re first into the fire. Many firefighters will do whatever they can to be first in as it’s generally considered the most exhilarating part of fighting a fire.
Speaking of hoses, very rarely will you hear firefighters themselves call a hose that. Rather, they often prefer to use the term pipe instead.
That’s why some firefighters are called pipemen or pipewomen, as they’re using the pipe (i.e., the hose) to extinguish a fire.
Simply put, when firefighters refer to the “pipe” it means the hose.
Speaking of fire hose, I wrote an entire article on how much fire hose weighs. Click the link to check it out.
Are you really surprised given everything you already know that a fire hydrant isn’t referred to as a fire hydrant at all?
Firefighters will commonly refer to a fire hydrant as a plug.
This comes from the old way of firefighting where firefighters had to tap into the plugs on the water line. It’s actually an interesting bit of history, but too much for this article.
The last term we have for you is a simple one: J’s.
It’s not a good term, as if someone is off on J’s, it means they got hurt–likely on the job–and won’t be available to work for a while.
You’ll have to be ready to pick up the slack!
As a firefighter, when communication is so integral and decisions must be made in a split second, you cannot do your job without knowing the proper slang terms that firefighters use.
You’ll be able to communicate with your crew in a language they understand and take swift actions that ensure that whether it’s a structural fire and you’re in jobtown or you’re combatting any other type of fire, you’re ready.