There are so many people out in the world that dream of getting hired as a firefighter. A detailed guide of the steps that need to be taken is below, but we also wrapped up all the steps in the infographic just below.
The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Firefighter – An infographic by the team at How 2 Become a Firefighter
Becoming a firefighter is a very intense job that can be very dangerous and rewarding at the same time. If you are interested in a career in firefighting you should be mentally and physically prepared for what you will be facing on the job. You are providing the service of saving peoples’ lives which is honorable as well as selfless. Although each state has differences in their hiring process, I have created this page to give an overall look at what the hiring process is like. For the people that are interested in a certain state’s requirements, I have created a drop down menu with each state to the right that will take you to their page showing their requirements. In general though you need to be:
- At least be 18 (Most fire departments prefer for you to at least be 21, however, you can still get hired at 18.)
- Possess a high school degree or a GED
- Have a clean criminal record
- Possess a driver’s license
If you’re interested in a career as a fireman, you should be proactive about it and start by volunteering in your community. Some fire stations will actually allow you to volunteer there. You need to check first with your local fire station to see if they are currently accepting volunteers.
Many fire departments like seeing that you have secondary education. Many times you can get your fire science degree at a local community college. This is not mandatory, however it will help your chances at getting hired if the station you’re applying at sees you have some courses under your belt.
Possess a Certificate in CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)
It is very important that this is one of the first things you do as it is a prerequisite to becoming an EMT which is something that must be completed in order to secure your job as a firefighter. A certificate in CPR will give you the basic training you need to know how to deal with minor injuries as well as how to treat sudden illnesses.
Become an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician)
There are certain steps that need to happen to become an EMT. Like firefighting there are different requirements per state but this next paragraph was written to give someone general knowledge of what is required of them.
- Complete the training course for becoming an EMT.
- If you are not capable of volunteering with your local fire department, volunteer at a hospital or healthcare center to get some hands on experience.
- Take the practical and written part of the EMT exam
- If you are not able to pass both parts of the test after 2 chances, then you must re-take the training course.
- After you are licensed you must be sure to keep up with your continuing education as well as renew your license.
The Hiring Process & Exams
Unlike most jobs were the hiring process consists of only an interview and a background check, the hiring process for potential firefighters is longer. There are 4 exams that a participant must complete before they can get hired.
- Written Exam
- Physical Exam
- Medical Exam
- Psychological Exam
The written exam is about 2 hours long and it challenges you on several different topics. Below is a list of the different topics that the exam covers:
- It is very important to have a good memory which is why it’s part of the test. You will be put in extreme situations where you need to remember where certain equipment is located, or floor plans to buildings or even directions on how to get somewhere quickly. Since time is a huge factor of whether or not you will be able to save someone’s life or home it is important that you are capable of memorizing important things in order to complete the task at hand efficiently. On the exam you will be given certain things to look at and memorize. They will then be taken away and you must answer a list of questions based on what you recall.
- Mechanical Aptitude
- On this part of the test you will be asked about the many tools you will have to use on a routine fire drill and how they work.
- Directional Orientation
- This part of the test will test your ability to read maps and floor plans.
- Basic Mathematics
- The math on this part of the test is the math that you learned in high school. You will be tested on things such as multiplication, division, addition, subtraction, decimals, exponents, fractions, etc.
- Reading Comprehension
- You will be given passages to read and then answer questions based off of what you read.
- Judgment and Reasoning
- You will be given a list of scenarios and you will need to make your decision on what you should do.
Physical Exam (Also Known as the CPAT)
As a firefighter it is important to be physically fit. You need to be able to lift heavy equipment and other people. Below is a list of some of the things that will be asked of you:
- Climb a set of stairs in full uniform
- Handle the hose when it is turned on as well as off
- Carry equipment
- Break down a door with a sledge hammer
- Searching for people in small areas
- Handling the ladder (setting it up, climbing it, and taking it down)
- Rescuing a mannequin
- Breaching and pulling a ceiling down
I believe it’s pretty obvious that this career path is a very serious and dangerous one which is why you must be checked out to be sure that you are healthy enough to endure the extreme conditions that you’ll be put in. You will be asked for your medical history as well as your family’s medical history to see if there are any sort of diseases that run in your family.
As a firefighter you are going to be put in a lot of situations that will affect your mind set and you must be mentally prepared for what’s to come in your career. During the psychological exam you will be interviewed by a psychologist in order to determine if you are capable of handling the stresses and pressures that you will encounter later on.
After all the above tests have been passed and you have been hired you will go through an extensive training program at a fire academy where you will learn what is expected of you on the job. There you will learn the day to day job of being a firefighter. There are different requirements and prerequisites per state that you must complete before being able to attend these schools.