A Complete Guide on How to Become a Firefighter in 2022
Table of Contents Hide
- Who is a Firefighter?
- Steps to Become a Firefighter
- Duties and Responsibilities of a Firefighter
- Qualifications You Need as a Firefighter
- Important Skills for a Firefighter
- Tips to Consider for Your Firefighter Career
- How to Become a Firefighter: FAQS
Firefighters provide protection and rescue to civilians during many different sorts of catastrophes, even though they are most famous for their efforts in putting out fires. They answer a range of emergency calls, including those for fires, medical crises, car accidents, spills of dangerous materials, and more. The willingness to aid others is a need for standing out in this demanding profession. Being a team player and having strong communication and problem-solving abilities are essential since you will use them regularly in the field. However, that’s not all. There are so many things required to be a firefighter. In this article, I will guide you on all you need to know to become a firefighter.
Who is a Firefighter?
A highly competent person who fights and extinguishes flames is a firefighter, also known as a fireman. They also operate as emergency medical technicians (EMTs), prevent fires, and look into the origin of fires.
Firefighters are sometimes referred to as “first responders” since they are frequently the first official “on the scene” of situations such as vehicle accidents, fires, or other catastrophes. While some firemen work as experts in their fields, others serve their communities as volunteers.
Steps to Become a Firefighter
What qualifications are needed to work in a firehouse? Although there is no one-size-fits-all career path for firefighters, these are the steps aspirant heroes usually take.
Step 1: Gather the Necessary Educational Requirements
Both a high school diploma and a current driver’s license are requirements for firefighters. Although the legal working age for firemen is 18, some on-the-job training may start when a person is younger. There could also be an upper age restriction, often between 28 and 30. Candidates must be in good physical condition and may also need to pass drug tests and background checks.
Step 2: Complete the Necessary Exams
When attempting to employ new personnel, fire departments often attend recruiting fairs. They provide testing sessions where aspiring firemen must pass written and physical examinations. You’ll need endurance since the recruiting process often takes a while. Candidates who are qualified and have passed the first assessment are interviewed and often subjected to further evaluations and testing.
Candidates must pass a written exam and the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) to enroll in a training program. Around 100 multiple-choice questions covering memory, spatial awareness, reading comprehension, mechanical reasoning, and logic normally make up the written test. Candidates must also pass a demanding physical fitness examination. They must be able to sprint a distance in the permitted amount of time, ascend stairs quickly, and lift and carry up to 200 pounds.
Step 3: Train as an EMT
Firefighters, who are often summoned to emergency medical situations, are required by certain jurisdictions to have an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) license. EMT is often a multi-stage procedure, however, state-specific criteria apply.
Step 4: Attend the Fire Academy
Although a firefighter receives extensive training in the station where they are employed or assigned to work, attending a fire academy allows them to concentrate on both classroom and practical training. Courses address subjects like controlling hazardous chemicals or anti-arson measures that may not be taught in firehouse training.
Step 5: Consider Formal Schooling
There are associate and bachelor’s degree programs at colleges, universities, and trade schools for those who desire to pursue careers in fire science, as paramedics or progress to leadership positions within firefighting organizations. You may need to finish your EMT-Paramedic training and pass those certification examinations before applying for a job if your potential employer is a fire agency. Some fire departments provide approved apprenticeship programs that last up to four years and combine in-class instruction with on-the-job training. Both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in forestry are offered with a firefighting/environmental concentration.
Step 6: Keep Learning
Firefighters’ commanders and career choices often dictate how much basic and continued education they need. As an example, some fire stations mandate weekly training for all firemen, while others have a full-time probationary period, and still, others need a four-year apprenticeship. Continuing education is a crucial component of the work. Be aware that to keep your EMT license active, you often need to enroll in frequent continuing education classes.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Firefighter
Putting out flames, rescuing and tending to the ill and wounded, trying to prevent new fires, and looking into the causes of fires, particularly in cases of possible arson, are the four main tasks and duties.
A firefighter’s main responsibility is putting out flames. A fireman will suit up in the necessary safety gear after being informed that a fire is occurring and then board or operate one of many different kinds of fire vehicles. Some of the trucks are used to deliver or pump water, others are “aerial ladder” trucks that raise ladders to buildings’ top stories, and still, others are rescue vehicles that take people who have been injured in fires to hospitals.
Each fireman has a particular mission to do after arriving at the scene and is supervised by a commanding officer. A pump operator, for example, regulates the water flow while hose operators attach hoses to fire hydrants and then direct the water flow toward the fire. Tillers are the people that control the aerial ladders. Others are in charge of rescuing prospective victims by entering burning structures. While all firemen are required to hold EMT credentials, some are experts in stabilizing patients after they have been removed from the burning building.
A fireman will utilize their EMT skills to care for the wounded and secure the area in the event of an automobile accident without a fire before ambulances and police arrive. In the event of natural calamities like tornadoes, tsunamis, and earthquakes, they also serve as rescuers. Firefighters tend to be catastrophe victims or look for the missing.
In addition to fighting fires, firefighters also serve as public educators and inspectors. The presence of fire escapes, alarms, and sprinkler systems, as well as their functionality, are checked by inspectors to make sure local companies adhere to fire regulations. To discover the origin of fires and gather proof that arson is suspected, certain firemen have received special training as investigators.
A firefighter’s duties include battling fires, but they also include maintaining their equipment and participating in regular drills or training. To withstand the physical rigors of their employment, they must also maintain top physical condition.
What firefighters normally include:
- Drive emergency vehicles such as fire trucks
- Use water pumps, fire extinguishers, and hoses to put out flames.
- Locate and rescue people from burning buildings or other emergency circumstances.
- treat those who are ill or wounded
- Write up reports on emergencies
- Maintain and clean the machinery.
- Practice drills and physical conditioning
Qualifications You Need as a Firefighter
Even though a strong general education is essential, personal traits and physical characteristics are more significant than academic credentials. Entry without a degree or HND is typical, and neither is another level of academic certification.
However, there are some graduate-level degree programs with a vocational concentration, including:
- The University of Central Lancashire offers a BSc (Hons) in Fire and Leadership Studies in collaboration with the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.
- In collaboration with the West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service, the University of Wolverhampton offers a BSc (Hons) Fire and Rescue program.
These programs seek to provide students with the skills they need to pursue a career in the fire sector, but they do not guarantee admittance into the fire and rescue service. Universities and Colleges Admissions Service has further information (UCAS).
There are also more degree programs in fields like fire engineering, risk management for fires and explosions, or fire and safety.
To become a fireman, you must be 18 or older. After successfully applying, you’ll go through the National Firefighter Selection (NFS) standard national selection procedure and a Personal Qualities and Attributes (PQA) exam to determine your suitability for the position.
Following an interview, candidates continue to do physical testing while wearing full firefighting gear. Towards the conclusion of the selection process, you’ll be invited to a medical. Both strong eyesight and hearing are necessary. See Fire Service for further details on the NFS procedure. The NFS is undergoing modifications from several services, some of which might include an online application and perhaps early online aptitude testing. To learn more about their application procedures, contact the various fire services.
Maintaining good physical health and learning as much as you can about the position and the fire and rescue service, in general, will increase your chances of being accepted.
Important Skills for a Firefighter
Along with being physically healthy, you must demonstrate:
- Ability to follow directions Ability to work in a team Problem-solving skills Effective communication skills Integrity, calm, and a soothing approach
- tolerance, comprehension, and sensitivity
- self-assurance and tenacity
- flexibility and pliability
- good judgment, fortitude, bravery, decisiveness, rapid responses, and the capacity to maintain composure under pressure
- a willingness and capacity to learn continuously; and a desire to advance community safety, education, and risk prevention.
Tips to Consider for Your Firefighter Career
1 – Get an EMT Certification
More than 90% of departments will demand this certification after hiring, and the vast majority of departments require an EMT certification to apply. It seems obvious that most fire departments demand this as a qualification since they handle up to 70% or more emergency medical-related calls. Additionally, they will have to train you far less at the recruit academy.
There is a need for certified paramedics in several departments. However, you often need to pass EMT training before applying to paramedic school. Additionally very helpful, and often necessary for many paramedic schools, is work experience as an EMT on a 911 ambulance. If you’ve already made up your mind to pursue this career path, enroll in an EMT course and only think about attending paramedic school if you want to work in EMS and want to become a paramedic. Don’t just do it to boost your chances of getting a job in the fire department.
2 – Prepare by Taking Firefighter Exams
Taking firefighter exams is the best approach to comprehending each stage of the employment procedure for firefighters. You become better at taking tests as you go along. It doesn’t matter if you fail a section of the exam; what matters is that you exposed yourself to the process and, more significantly, now know better what to anticipate in the future since the recruiting procedure for fire departments is often pretty similar.
You could struggle along the way to become a fireman; most people do. You can fail a written test, a physical ability test, and even an oral interview if you’re not well prepared and don’t know what to expect. Avoid repeating your errors by learning from them. If you don’t start doing tests, you’ll never be able to identify your recruiting process strengths and limitations.
How can you learn which departments are conducting tests? Signing up for Firerecruit and receiving notifications about firefighter positions around the nation is a wonderful place to start. Don’t depend exclusively on your efforts or word of mouth. Most departments only test occasionally.
The majority of departments test every two to three years, while certain big urban agencies may wait up to six to ten years between tests, despite other departments testing every six months. The exam you were unaware of and chose not to take may have been the crucial one. Knowing who is testing and taking the exams are clearly of the highest significance since taking tests is the only method to be employed.
3 – Maintain a Clean History and Lifestyle
It doesn’t matter whether you agree or disagree. Past conduct is the greatest indicator of future behavior.
If you have a history of concerns (such as car accidents, moving violations, arrests, domestic violence, anger management issues, etc.), it will be more difficult for you to differentiate yourself from the competitors. Although you cannot go back and alter the past, you can start to modify certain things that will impact your future.
4 – Consider Volunteer Service
It doesn’t matter whether the volunteer experience was connected to firefighting or not. Volunteering for community service is the best way to demonstrate to departments that you have the motivation and skills to serve your community. For individuals who are just starting, it is also a terrific method to improve your résumé and receive excellent references.
There are many wonderful options available, so look for them and choose one that appeals to you. Both volunteers and CPR instructors are continuously needed by the American Red Cross. However, you should also take into account homeless shelters, Habitat for Humanity, Big Brother Big Sister, and other fantastic opportunities where you can make a difference in your community. Burn camps are also a fantastic area to volunteer and begin networking with fire service experts. The fire service is all about this, and we are searching for individuals who share this philosophy to join our team and represent our departments and profession.
5 – Visit Fire Stations
Visit the fire stations in your area, particularly the ones that are a part of the fire department for which you are applying. Speaking with firefighters is a fantastic method to learn more about the profession, their particular department, and any programs they may offer, like cadet jobs, reserve firefighter prospects, or other possibilities.
You may learn a lot from and start networking with your neighborhood firemen. These firemen have what is needed to pass the recruiting process, and it’s possible that they also participated in oral boards or other aspects of their department’s hiring procedure.
Ask them for advice on what you should do to become a firefighter and what they did. Find out what they enjoy and hate about their department. Although you shouldn’t trust everything you hear, try to listen to everyone and look for any recurring patterns. You will do better in the interview if you visit the station ahead of time.
6 – Comprehend Every Stage of the Hiring Process For Firefighters
How can you possibly succeed if you don’t know which stages you must complete, and pass them effectively, to become a firefighter? Although the selection procedure will differ between regions and even departments, there are some universally applicable fundamental similarities.
You must become knowledgeable about both the overall procedure as well as each step. Start learning about the recruiting processes utilized by the departments in your region or the testing location, as well as the most prevalent stages (oral interview, written examination, physical agility, background investigation, etc.).
7 – Complete Classes in Fire Technology
Even though it’s not usually necessary to have this to apply for a fire job, it looks great on your CV and helps you become ready for the profession. It demonstrates a degree of devotion, passion, and effort toward your chosen vocation.
Invest in your future before you start working at a fire department since the majority of fire academy recruits go through at the start of their careers barely skimming the surface in several crucial areas. For instance, the two most crucial topics that a fireman has to be knowledgeable about are only covered in three hours of building construction and five hours of fire behavior at our department’s recruit training.
Do yourself a favor and enroll in one of them for a semester at your neighborhood community college. You’ll learn around 53 hours of knowledge on a topic that contributes to firefighter injuries and line-of-duty fatalities.
How to Become a Firefighter: FAQS
1. What to do to Become a Firefighter?
A fireman must possess a high school diploma or an equivalent. An Associate Degree in Fire Science or even a four-year Bachelor’s Degree is increasingly being demanded of potential firefighters. A firefighter also has to complete and pass a fire exam, albeit the standards differ by state, region, and nation.
Before being accepted into a formal training program at a fire station or academy, a firefighter must also pass a medical check and a drug test. Before receiving a job offer, applicants may sometimes spend three to four years in an apprenticeship program.
Experienced firemen will keep practicing exercises to keep their skills and knowledge up to date. Some enroll in fire science courses to develop their careers, focus on fire investigation, or get a different profession needing specialized training.
A firefighter must be physically and psychologically fit to handle the rigorous duties of fighting fires and managing emergencies in addition to being informed and skilled. Firefighters must maintain a constant and steady mental focus due to the crucial nature of their work and the number of tragedies and disasters they witness. Decisions that they must make in a split second might have an impact on others around them.
Physically, a fireman must be able to carry people from burning buildings while wearing bulky safety gear, handle large things, and operate unruly equipment. For individuals seeking this vocation, being in top physical and mental form is vitally crucial.
2. Do I Want to Work as a Firefighter?
It’s crucial for those who wish to work as firemen to know the difference between “desire” and “should”. Someone may not be suited for or successful at anything just because they desire to be.
The question “should I become a firefighter?” is harder to answer. While thinking about it, keep the following points in mind:
Am I innately qualified for the position?
Due to our innate abilities and propensities, we all thrive in some areas of life. In our lives, there are also those areas where we struggle since they are weak points for us. Some people possess the qualities needed to be a fireman and others don’t. The finest firemen are those who can remain calm in the face of very challenging mental, physical, and psychological situations. This is most definitely not the profession for you if you tend to overreact and have trouble managing stress. However, if you do well under pressure and stress and can complete tasks when confronted with a life-or-death scenario, this profession can be a good fit for you.
Which personality type am I?
Being a firefighter requires a lot of interpersonal and public interaction, therefore introverts or those who prefer to avoid social interaction may find certain aspects of the work unpleasant and unsuitable for their personality type. Additionally, firefighters are a close-knit crew that often works and lives together. This job might not be for you if you prefer to work alone or do not perform well in a group setting.
Can I continue to be as physically active and strong as I need to be?
The physical demands of firefighting, including the muscular, anaerobic, and aerobic capabilities needed for the work, should not be underestimated. Fitness requires a certain level of commitment and effort on your part. not only while applying for jobs but through a career. If keeping a good level of fitness is difficult for you, you may want to think about switching careers.
Can I manage the stress in my family or relationships?
Working shift work (24 or 48-hour shifts) and spending at least a third of your days and nights away from home can cause strain in any relationship. Additionally, it may be incredibly time-consuming and ultimately burdensome for your spouse to have to work holidays, relax while off duty, attend fundraisers and political events, train, and put in additional time for department events. Since not everyone is suited to be married to a fireman, many individuals may find that all of these criteria are deal-breakers.
Am I only lured by the job’s excitement?
Working as a fireman is like straddling the line between routine and unpredictability. A relatively minor portion of the time spent on duty will be spent combating flames. Some numerous other activities and responsibilities need to be completed considerably more often than fighting fires, even in the busiest of firehouses. These jobs could include sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, cleaning the restrooms, checking equipment and apparatus, and mowing the grounds. There are meetings to attend, documents to complete, employees to train, businesses to examine, campfire permits to distribute, and hydrants to paint.
It’s important to be knowledgeable about every facet of this profession and ready to give each one equal attention to detail. Consider carefully the extensive list of work responsibilities that will be required of you if you are just interested in one aspect of the job, such as putting out fires.
Finally, while thinking about this profession, it’s critical to distinguish between the should and the desire. Once you’ve decided to become a fireman, pursue your ambition as fervently as you can. One of the most fulfilling occupations there is this one.