The path to become a firefighter is actually not that hard. Sure the hiring process can be difficult and the job itself can be intense but the actual act of becoming a firefighter (on paper) is simple.
The very first step is making sure you have diploma/GED, drivers license and a clean record. Once you have made the decision to become a firefighter contact your local college and sign up for orientation.
Now this Isn’t a post about the mental preparation of being a firefighter so I will just hit that really quick. If you are younger think about joining an explorer program to start to get an idea of what it’s like.
Also simply ask around or stop by your local fire station and get their thoughts on the job. Also maybe listen to some watch some YouTube videos on the subject or even a podcast.
Schooling First- Certification Second
Now for the logistics. Most fire departments have a state standard fire academy and some have in house academies and you are actually hired on prior to that academy.
During these academies you will learn the basics of being a firefighter as well as learning how you perform under stress and pressure. Most standards keep a paramilitary style of training and teaching so expect that their will be no cutting corners on any aspect of this training.
It also seems that most departments will require the minimum to have an EMT certification if not greater. And considering 90% of this job is medical, go ahead and plan to having to sign up for these courses.
Both EMT and Paramedic schooling requires a great deal of commitment due to having school and clinical hours to fill in a short amount of time. Fortunately a lot of fire department will hire you as a firefighter/EMT and then will put you through Paramedic school. So at least you can start career.
Once you have all your certifications then starts the “glorious” process of putting out applications and going through hiring processes. This is the most nerve racking. Its constantly applying and hoping to get in and their will be times you don’t make it. The competition is very real and tough.
Remember to be professional and courteous to any one you meet when interviewing. Show them your great character and eagerness to do the job. Also try not to get arrested for doing something stupid. That helps alot because there is definitely a thorough background check.
How long does it take to Become a Firefighter?
Well now that depends are we talking about being a firefighter on paper or actually working and being passionate enough to call yourself a firefighter? Typically fire academies range about 3-4 months with EMT taking another 3-4 months.
So in total about 8 months to be certified and ready to possibly apply. Of course some departments require you are a paramedic so this means another 12 months of schooling and internships.
When polled on Instagram- the average time from graduation to being hired was one year.
Is it hard to get Hired as a Firefighter?
The process is competitive and long. For larger departments you could be one of hundreds applying and testing.
Don’t let that intimidate you. Keep training, trying and applying. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get on with the department you want the first go around.
What could Disqualify you from being a Firefighter?
A Firefighter has to have strong morals and solid fitness along with work ethic. Therefore anything that’s morally harmful can disqualify the candidate.
Things like criminal activity and drug abuse are huge red flags as well. Poor physical fitness is another red flag. No you don’t have to be a triathlete but the job requires mental and physical sharpness.
What are the Physical Requirements to be a Firefighter?
You can bet their will definitely be some sort of physical ability test during interview processes. Alot of departments use the standardized CPAT test. Which consists of different abilities such as stairmaster, hose drag, keiser sled, etc.
Make no mistake you need to train for these tests. Remember you could be competing with a lot of other applicants.
What does it take for a Woman to become a Firefighter?
Great questions, but it’s the same standards across the board. All firefighters should be held to the same standard no matter what, because the calls and the jobs are the same.
There is a bias that some women have encountered in the Fire Service, and that could absolutely be a hurdle if you are a woman and experience that. I only want to encourage you to push through and find the right school and station- some of my best teammates are woman and it doesn’t matter on the Fire. You do the job regardless of gender.
Some people might say that women shouldn’t because of children, and I don’t have much to say, besides that fact that it’s hard for all parents, regardless of gender.
What does it take to get hired as a Firefighter in Canada?
Every state, country and entity will probably have different standards for schooling. And Canada is no exception. Fortunately Canada follows a lot of the same NFPA guidelines as the US so you can expect a similar curriculum for your academy.
How can I increase my chances of getting Hired on with a Fire Department?
Knowledge is key and one of the best ways to obtain that knowledge is through experience. Which begs the question, “how do I get experience if I can’t get hired?”
My advice to you is to keep a positive attitude while looking into Volunteer Positions, or complementary Careers. You can always get on with a volunteer department to keep your certifications up to date. You can also volunteer at places like Elderly Facilities, National and State Parks, and Hospitals.
Lastly, keep your resume up to date, and talk to lots of people about your desire to get on at a Station. Many times it’s about who you know, and the more you volunteer and talk to people, the greater your odds of finding an open position.
Best of Luck on your Firefighter Journey!
Well I hope this is somewhat helpful. The process to become a a true firefighter is long path but extremely rewarding with developing a brotherhood that is truly unbreakable. Oh and you get to break stuff which is pretty great!