Becoming a firefighter isn’t something you do for fun or instinctively. It might be one of the most challenging positions because you have to deal with life-death matters daily. Therefore, to fit in the firefighting criteria, you need excessive training, relevant education, and a passion to serve the community. The recruiting process is challenging and exhausting, and more than 70% give up halfway through. So, if you have an absolute commitment to the firefighting profession, then buckle up and gear up your training process with these must-to-do steps in your pursuit to become a firefighter.
Prepare Yourself to Become a Firefighter with These 7 Steps:
Becoming a firefighter is no child’s play, and you need to meet some strict guidelines to make it in the field. The good thing is that nothing is impossible. With dedication, hard work, and the following steps, you can easily walk down the path to become a good firefighter.
1. Meet the Requirements:
After you have decided that firefighting is the right career choice for you, work on determining whether you fit the requirements or not. Apart from the department’s minimum qualifications, you will need to meet a few standard requirements, including minimum and maximum age requirements of 18 and 28 to 35 years subsequently. You will also need to have a valid driver’s license with almost a perfect record. Authorities will run a criminal background check on you to pass along with drug screening, to pass all the firefighter requirements.
2. Enroll in an EMT Course:
Getting your EMT certification is critical because almost all U.S fire departments and jurisdictions require potential firefighter candidates to pass EMT training successfully. Emergency Medical Technicians are well-trained in the prehospital setting in BLS (Basic Life Support) skills. It makes sense because firefighters aren’t only tackling the fire, but they are also first responders to many emergencies. So, you should get your EMT certification before your employment as a firefighter and even candidacy. An EMT certification is one of the first certifications you are likely to require before starting your career as a firefighter.
3. Meet the Necessary Academic Requirements:
A high school diploma or GED is the bare minimum for most departments when applying as a firefighter. However, a simple diploma won’t help you stand out if you want your dream job. The best approach is to get a proper college-level degree if you need to advance your firefighting career. Many serious candidates earn a fire science degree which impresses employers and shows their potential and capability to learn. You’ll know about the theories, histories, fire investigation practices, suspension, and prevention with a fire science degree. Degrees in fire science or forestry with a firefighting focus combined with an EMT certification will undoubtedly elevate your employment chances. Here are a few education options you can consider:
- Vocational/Trade School (For those seeking a certificate in fire protection, fire science, and related areas)
- Military (For those looking for advanced training)
- Community College (For those looking for an associate degree)
- 4-Year Schools (For those wanting to earn a bachelor’s degree)
- Master’s Program (For those wishing to learn more)
4. Be in Top-Notch Physical Shape:
Firefighting is a grueling profession requiring extensive physical work and training. Anyone with an average physique won’t be able to make it much far in this career. Therefore, you have to prepare your body for extreme physical conditions. It includes ladder raise and extension, hose drag, forcible entry, stair climb, search, ceiling breach and pull, and rescue. You need to be in a top-notch physical condition to pass the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT). Your body should be well-prepared for handling heavy equipment in adverse and dangerous situations. And that is why you should engage in daily physical and stamina boosting training.
5. Maintain a Clean Record:
Nobody is interested in hiring a firefighter with a history of domestic violence, traffic tickets, or behavioral issues. The more tainted your background, the harder it gets to convince others of your fire fighting abilities, no matter how good they are. You must maintain a clean background with a sound lifestyle because your past choices can affect your future as a firefighter. Therefore, think long and hard before pursuing this demanding career, and if you do, then work to honor this profession. The fire departments will do an extensive background check on you, including driving records, criminal background checks, activities on social media accounts, and even financial history. The best thing to do is to remain honest and avoid lying about your records.
6. Prepare for the test:
Prepping for the big test isn’t a requirement, but it will help you in the long run. The hiring and screening process is lengthy and meticulous. Therefore, it is better to get yourself in shape mentally and physically because you wouldn’t want to jeopardize your chances because of exhaustion. You will have to take at least two tests to enter a training program, including the CPAT test and a written test. The physical examination includes a series of rigorous fitness tests. You’ll have to perform climbing flights of stairs at a rapid pace, distance running in an allotted time, and even carrying up to 200 pounds. The written test consists of 100 MCQs covering mechanical reasoning, spatial awareness, memory, reading comprehension, and more.
7. Receive training at a Fire Academy:
You’ll need a specific set of training depending on the department. Suppose you want to apply for your dream job. In that case, getting an edge with entry-level firefighting certification is a beneficial move. You’ll still need to undergo training at the department’s academy, but you’ll have a head start with previous experience. You can receive training for different firefighting skills and subjects, including firefighter safety, communications, fire chemistry, fire investigation, physical fitness, and more.
You must have extreme dedication and passion for pursuing a hardcore career such as firefighting. To become a successful firefighter and land your dream job, you’ll need to put extra effort into your physical fitness, behavior, driving, and finances. You’ll also need to have no toxic social presence, and your background should be transparent. You should go for good educational options such as a college degree and earn additional certification. Remember to prepare your mind and body for challenging situations and work on firefighting skills through academy training.