How to Become a Firefighter
Maybe you’ve always dreamed about becoming a firefighter, or maybe this is a new idea for you. Where ever your desire might stem from, start by taking a look at the requirements for becoming a firefighter. While this isn’t an easy road, if you’re motivated, you can follow the steps to become a firefighter, no matter where you live. Start studying now with this course on fire analysis of steel steel structures.
Requirements for Becoming a Firefighter
To become a firefighter, you have to be a specific age. While most agencies will only require you to be 18, some will insist you be at least 21. If you’re still in high school, you might want to consider checking out a local firefighter’s cadet program, which usually start as early as 16. Like police cadet programs, most fire departments will hire from their cadet programs. Along with the right age, you’re also going to need at least a high school diploma or a GED. You’ll want to double check with the department you’re hoping to get into because they might require more education.
You should also have a driver’s license because you never know when you’ll be the one called up to drive the fire engine. Most departments require that you have a driver’s license. You’ll also want to start a rigorous exercise training schedule now because you’re going to need to be in great physical shape to become a firefighter. You’re also going to need to pass a criminal background check and have 20/20 vision or glasses that correct your vision. If you think you can pass the qualifications, move on to the steps below to help you achieve your dream.
Get Your Training as an EMT
Most fire departments are requiring EMT certification before they’ll even interview you, and if they aren’t requiring it before an interview, they will require it once you’re hired. As you will be entering emergency situations, having this type of training will mean less training they’ll have to give you during the academy. This means that they’ll be able to get you out in the field faster. If you’re interested in becoming a paramedic for the fire department, becoming an EMT is a great first step because it is usually required before applying to paramedic school. If this is the path you’re interested in taking, you should brush up on some medical terminology to prepare.
Volunteer at Your Local Fire Department or at the Department You’re Hoping to Join
Someone has probably told you at least once in your lifetime that volunteer experience will look great on a resume. This is very true, and if you’re planning to become a firefighter, volunteering a a fire department will look even better. Not only will it show your desire and ability to help the community, but it can show just what a great team player you are. Plus, it never hurts to start networking early, and a recommendation from a fire chief will definitely look great when you do eventually apply. If the fire department isn’t looking for volunteers, find other volunteer sites that work with the fire department like the American Red Cross or burn centers. Other great volunteer sites that show your interest in the community are homeless shelters, habitat for humanity, and big brother/big sister programs. Find what’s available in your area, and start working in the community.
Consider Taking Some Fire Technology Classes
While an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree might not be required by the fire department you’re hoping to work for, it doesn’t hurt to take some classes on fire technology. Plus, it’ll give you an edge over other candidates, and if you are planning to rise in the ranks, your extra education will come in handy. Remember that if becoming a firefighter really is your dream, it’s important to show that to those that will be looking over your resume with related experience. Taking these classes will definitely give you experience, even if it’s only in a classroom.
Know the Hiring Process, and Practice It
If you don’t know how the department you want to work for does their hiring process, you won’t know what to work on. The only way to find out is by visiting the fire department, looking it up on an online website (if they have one), or by giving the department a call. The hiring process can vary from department to department so if you plan to be hired by your local fire department before moving onto your dream position, be sure to check both. Nearly all departments require a written exam, oral exam or interview, a physical competence test, and background check. If you need help with the written exam, consider an online course. There are also plenty of books available if you prefer that method instead of a class. Check out Amazon or other online websites for helpful books on taking the written exam.
There’s also help available for acing the oral exam or interview. Anyone who’s looked for a job at one point in their life can tell you interviews, no matter the position, are tough. Most people get nervous, forget things that they wanted to tell the interviewers, or they act inappropriately without even realizing it. If the interview is going to be your toughest challenge, consider an online course to help you pass it. You should also consider talking to other firefighters that have gone through the process. Find out as much information as you possibly can so that you can be as prepared as possible.
Don’t forget that the written exam and oral exam are only part of the battle. If you’re out of shape or not as fit as you’d like to be, consider getting a gym membership, or work out at home. Build up your strength quickly with this course about deadlifting. Remember to check with your physician before attempting any exercise regimen. If you’re in shape but not sure if it’s enough for the fire department, talk to other firefighters, or volunteer at a department and see if you can be allowed to try carrying the gear. No matter how in shape you feel, if you can’t keep up with the other firefighters in the department, you’re not fit enough for the fire department. Testing it will at least give you a better idea of what you need to work on.
Have Some Life Experience
You might be thinking that you can’t get experience for the fire department without working at a fire department, but that’s just not true. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that happens at a fire department when they’re not fighting fires or performing other duties outside the station. Like any home, as the fire station will soon become, there are chores that need to be done. That can include anything from making beds, doing laundry, cleaning up gear, doing dishes, or cooking meals. Go out, and get yourself a part-time job doing something that will come in handy later – washing dishes, basic mechanics, or cooking. The fire department will have to train you, but they shouldn’t have to train you on how to live.
Like any career, becoming a firefighter isn’t going to happen overnight. Most departments have very small hiring windows, and some don’t even open that hiring window every year. There are many departments that only hire people every two to five years. All you can do is be patient, work on making yourself the best candidate possible, and keep your eyes peeled for any openings. Remember that an opening in any fire department is better than sitting around waiting for that dream department to come to you. More experience at a fire department just means that your resume will look even better when you do finally make it to that dream department. Check out FireRecruit for openings, visit or call other fire departments, and talk to firefighters. The better your network is, the more likely you are to find out about department openings before other candidates.
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