Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators and Locomotive Firers


Also called : Brakeman, Carman, Fireman, Locomotive Switch Operator, Railroad Brakeman, Railroad Switchman, Terminal Carman, Trainman

What they do


Operate or monitor railroad track switches or locomotive instruments. May couple or uncouple rolling stock to make up or break up trains. Watch for and relay traffic signals. May inspect couplings, air hoses, journal boxes, and hand brakes. May watch for dragging equipment or obstacles on rights-of-way.

On the job, one would


  • Observe train signals along routes and verify their meanings for engineers.

  • Signal locomotive engineers to start or stop trains when coupling or uncoupling cars, using hand signals, lanterns, or radio communication.

  • Pull or push track switches to reroute cars.

  • Observe signals from other crew members so that work activities can be coordinated.

  • Monitor trains as they go around curves to detect dragging equipment and smoking journal boxes.

KNOWLEDGE


  • Transportation
    Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.

  • Public Safety and Security
    Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.

  • Mechanical
    Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.

  • English Language
    Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

SKILLS


  • Operations Monitoring
    Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

  • Monitoring
    Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

  • Operation and Control
    Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

  • Active Listening
    Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

  • Critical Thinking
    Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

ABILITIES


  • Far Vision
    The ability to see details at a distance.

  • Problem Sensitivity
    The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.

  • Near Vision
    The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

  • Control Precision
    The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.

  • Reaction Time
    The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.

PERSONALITY

People interested in this work, will do well at jobs that need;

  • Dependability
    Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.

  • Attention to Detail
    Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.

  • Stress Tolerance
    Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.

  • Self-Control
    Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.

  • Adaptability/Flexibility
    Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.

  • Independence
    Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.

  • Cooperation
    Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

  • Integrity
    Job requires being honest and ethical.

  • Initiative
    Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.

  • Persistence
    Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.

TECHNOLOGY

  • Data base user interface and query software

  • Expert system software

  • Route navigation software

  • Time accounting software

EDUCATION AND TRAINING

  • Preparation

    Some Preparation Needed

  • Education

    High school diploma.

  • Experience

    Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed.

  • Jobtraining

    Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.

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