Interviewing countless personnel in the fire service, there are recurring themes to become a firefighter. Take note of these and you could increase your chances to landing a career in the fire service.
1. Understand the duties and responsibilites
Becoming a firefighter is not only putting water on fire. Job duties of an entry-level firefighter are quite extensive. Job shifts vary by department and normally run 24 hours or 48 hours with 2-3 day rest in between. Firefighters are responsible for maintenance of apparatus and equipment, preparing meals, cleaning living quarters, keeping in shape, fire inspections, fire drills, and other duties. Although there is downtime, on duty firefighters must be ready to respond to an emergency at any time. Emergencies are not planned which will cause interruption to sleep, meals, and restroom breaks.
2. Graduate from high school or obtain GED
Obtaining your high school diploma or GED certificate are minimum requirements for nearly all public firefighter positions. Although prospects can be hired with a very minimum education level, prospects with strong educational backgrounds are normally more attractive. Firefighters need to write incident reports and could be used to testify in a court proceeding. Poor writing skills can reflect the integrity and credibility of the writer.
3. Enroll in an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) course
Most fire departments require basic EMT certification. In addition it will give you a taste what it’s like to attend patients during medical call, accidents, and fire emergency. If you have trouble with the sight of blood or administering CPR the fire service may not be your true calling. An even more attractive impression would be to obtain a certified or licensed Paramedic. Future posts on EMT and EMS/Paramedics will be featured.
4. Enroll in a Firefighter Academy
Many fire departments require a satisfactory completion of Firefighter Academy 1 prior to taking an entry level exam. Attending a fire academy will give the prospect a broader scope and detail including fire commission rules and regulations, fire science, fire apparatus, fire inspections, fire safety, hose operation, fire extinguishers, pre-incident planning, building construction, and many other topics. If you want to become a firefighter enrolling in a firefighter academy should be seriously considered. Future posts on Firefighter Academies will be featured.
5. Obtain Firefighter Written Exam Training Material
The written exam is a process to reduce the applicant pool so that they may advance to the physical test. The written exams look to ensure that the applicants have satisfactory competency levels. Subjects can include reading, math, science, and English, Map reading and following instructions could also be tested. Normally the tests are graded as pass or fail with minimum being much greater than 70%. Some recommended books include “Smoke Your Firefighter Written Exam” by Paul S. Lepore, ”Firefighter Exam Preparation Book” by Norman Hall and Arcos “Master the Firefighter Exam”. The books gives the reader basic understanding of test preparation. Some information may not apply to your area or region. When purchasing any books make sure to check with the fire department you are testing in. Ask them if there are any specific books that they recommend
In future posts we will have more tips that will help you become a firefighter. Hope this was helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.