How to Execute the Perfect Fireman Carry


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First aid and safety procedures are a must-learn for everyone. You’ll never know when an emergency can happen. When you find yourself in the middle of one, you must be prepared to protect yourself and assist others. One emergency technique you can learn is the fireman carry or fireman lift.

Many learn first aid procedures like making a tourniquet or performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation. However, not many know how to carry others to safety in the case of fire or other emergencies. Granted, not many feel confident enough to do so. 

If you’re confident in your strength and willing to help save lives, it’s worth knowing how to execute a fireman carry. 

What is a Fireman Carry?

A fireman carry is a technique that allows you to carry another person without assistance. Firefighters use this technique to transport injured victims, whether unconscious or conscious. The military and other emergency response teams also utilize this lift. 

The fireman carry is widely considered an effective way to transport injured people over long distances. In an emergency, knowing various safety techniques like the fireman lift is essential to saving lives.

A group of firefighters and first responders attend to an unconscious person.

How to do a Fireman Carry

There are a few ways to execute a fireman carry. Here’s one that utilizes momentum to carry out the lift successfully:

  1. Check the Victim’s Status

Carefully check the victim’s status. Are they breathing? Do they have any injuries? Look out for broken bones. Doing a fireman carry on a heavily injured person can worsen their condition. When you’re in a situation where you need to do a fireman lift, you most likely don’t have the luxury of time. Research how to examine a fallen person for injuries so you know what to look for quickly when the time comes.

If the person is too injured for a fireman lift, consider using safer and easier methods, which firefighters also use. One method is the blanket drag, where you roll the victim onto a blanket and drag them to safety by pulling the blanket. Another method is the shoulder drag, which you can do by grasping the victim’s clothes under their shoulder and pulling them to safety.

  1. Put the Victim in the Right Position

Once you verify the status of the victim, it’s time to put them in the proper position. Gently roll them so they’re lying on their back with their face up (supine). Then, bend their knees so that their feet are laid flat on the ground.

  1. Get the Victim Upright

This step takes strength to accomplish. If you’re committed to learning the fireman carry, you should practice this first with a trusted friend or family member. 

Keep the victim’s legs close together. Put your feet on either side of the victim’s feet and keep them together. You can also gently place a foot on top of the victim’s feet to keep them in place. Then, take the victim’s arms, lean back and pull the victim up with all your strength. Pull until their legs lock, and they stand upright.

  1. Bend and Lift

After you get the victim upright, you must do the following steps swiftly so they don’t fall back down again. Yes, you’ll need to practice this beforehand to master it.

Once your victim is upright, bend on one knee and place your back under the victim’s body until they are positioned across your shoulder. The victim’s legs should be on one side of your shoulder, with the head and arms on the opposite shoulder. Now, place one hand between the person’s legs and hold on to the leg nearer you.

Now, here comes the hard part — lift! Get back up on your feet carefully. With one hand holding the victim’s leg and another holding the dangling arm, walk towards safety. 

A rescue worker watches over a collapsed person.

Safety Precautions

The fireman carry is a great way to save someone’s life. However, it does come with its disadvantages. You need to mind all the precautions to ensure you and the person you’re carrying are safe. Here are some things you need to know:

Assess the Area

Before carrying another person, you should quickly check out the area first. Will it be safe to carry someone across your shoulder through the site?

You can’t pass through places too narrow, or the person you rescue will hit their legs or head. You should also check if anything dangling above can hit you and the victim. Then, check for significant obstacles that can potentially block your path. Finally, check where the nearest exit is. 

You might not have time to do all this when you’re in a time-sensitive situation like a fire. In that case, you will have to think on your feet. You’ll have to make difficult decisions on the fly.

Lift Light

The firefighter carry is best for carrying people smaller and lighter than you. The lift puts a lot of strain on your back, so you can get injured if you carry someone too heavy for your capability. You can also accidentally add injury to the victim if you fall over or collapse under their weight. 

If you’re not confident you can lift a person on your back and walk while carrying that weight, you shouldn’t proceed. You can instead try other methods to transport them.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Once the victim is on your shoulder, they will be out of your line of sight. It’s common for victims to accidentally hit things while being carried to safety. If you successfully perform a fireman carry, be careful while moving the victim. Be aware of potential objects and surfaces they can bump into to avoid further injuring them. Be especially aware of the side where the victim’s head is. 

Train for Strength and Endurance

Some people have that innate desire to protect those around them. If you’re one of them, you should train for potential situations so you’ll be able to save others. You must do weight and endurance training to execute the fireman carry correctly. Prioritize shoulder, back, and leg strength. You must also build body mass and strength to lift others to safety. 

Two determined firefighters carry a ladder.

Learn a Lifesaving Lift 

Learning the fireman carry displays great physical prowess and a desire to do good for the community. Mastering it gives you strength, agility and endurance. Most of all, you feel confident that no matter where you go, you have the right skill set to help others get to safety.

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