For those wondering if a career in the fire service is for you. I’m excited to announce an ebook that will help you make that decision. The book should be out by Fall 2013. If you have any suggestions for the book, please feel free to leave a comment or a note on my contact page.
Back in the day most career fire departments had their own firefighter fitness test requirements. Most career fire departments now have candidate physical ability tests (CPAT) administered to prospective candidates. They include eight continuous on a path, exercise drills that must be completed in 10 minutes and 20 seconds and is pass or fail.
During the test, candidates are required to wear a 50 lb. vest. with long pants, shoes with no open toes, hard hat w/chinstrap, and gloves. Wearing jewelry is prohibited. The 50 lb. vest is used to simulate wearing self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).
Each exercise station is separated by 85 ft. and requires the candidate to walk between each station. To ensure safety and minimize exhaustion, running between stations is not allowed.
The Eight Firefighter Fitness-CPAT Exercises:
- Stair Climb – The exercise is conducted on a stepping machine requiring 60 steps for 3 minutes. In addition two – 12.5 lb. weights on the shoulder are required. The exercise is completed and the candidate advances to the next station.
- Hose Drag – The candidate places the end of a 200 ft. hose on their shoulder and drags the hose 75 ft. around a barrier, making a 90 degree turn and dragging it another 25 ft. to a 5 x 7 ft. box, on one or two knees the candidate pulls the hose 150 ft. until the 50 ft. hose mark crosses the finish line. The exercise is completed and the candidate advances to the next station.
- Equipment Carry – Two saws are removed from a cabinet and placed on the ground one at a time. Both saws are then carried and required to walk 75 ft. around a barrier and return to the starting point. Both saws are placed on the ground and returned to the cabinet one at a time. The exercise is completed and the candidate advances to the next station.
- Ladder Raise – The candidate walks to the top rung of a 24 ft. aluminum extension ladder, walking the ladder, rung by rung up to a stationary wall. The candidate must stay positioned in a 3 x 3 ft. box near the wall and raise the ladder until it hits the stop and returns the ladder back to its original position. The exercise is completed and the candidate advances to the next station.
- Forcible Entry – The candidate uses a 10 lb. sledgehammer striking a measuring device while in a designated boxed area until the buzzer sounds. The exercise is completed and the candidate advances to the next station.
- Search – The candidate crawls on hands and knees in a tunnel maze 4 ft. wide,3 ft. high, 64 ft. long with two-90 degree turns. In addition there are two areas with significantly reduced space. The exercise is completed and the candidate advances to the next station.
- Rescue Drag – The candidate grabs the handles at the shoulder of a 165 lb. mannequin and drags the mannequin 35 ft. up around a barrier returning the mannequin 35 ft. back to the finish line. The complete body of the mannequin must cross the finish line. The exercise is completed and the candidate advances to the next station.
- Ceiling Breach and Pull – The candidate uses a pike pole to push up a 60-lb. hinged door three times and then use the pike pole to pull an 80-lb. ceiling device pulling the pike pole downwards five time. The routine is conducted 4 more times for a total of 5 times. The exercise is completed after the last pull and the proctor calls out “Time”.
Two stop watches are used, one used for official time and the other for back-up. Any time greater than 10 minutes 20 seconds is a fail. The firefighter fitness CPAT is challenging. To become a firefighter requires significant training in cardiovascular, strength, flexibility and endurance. Stop by often as we look to provide more information about firefighter fitness to help you become a firefighter.
A Day for Steven
Becoming a firefighter is a very dangerous occupation and requires many other tedious tasks, however there are some benefits of belonging to the Firefighter Family and Brotherhood. Several weeks ago, took the family to a fundraiser for a local Colony, TX firefighter with serious health issues. The event was called “A Day for Steven”. Steven recently had heart surgery and it’s unknown if he can return back to service. This extended leave and medical bills have caused financial hardships for Steve and his family.
One of the event activities was at a local restaurant where you could meet Steve and his family during lunch time. Part of the proceeds for the day would go to the fundraising efforts. There was a live band, silent auction, and plenty of good food and beer served on the outdoor patio. Fire trucks and an ambulance were parked at the front of the restaurant. In addition a Careflite Medical Helicopter flew in and landed in an open field near the restaurant. Parents and children were allowed to take a tour of the equipment,vehicles, and helicopter and ask on duty staff questions.
While people were eating lunch, Steven spoke to the crowd. The speech was brief and to the point. He thanked them for their support and how the events exceeded his expectations. He also indicated how proud he is to have support and be with the greatest fire department in the world. He truly loves his firefighter family and brothers. You could feel the sense of pride and family values in the air. It was a great family filled day. Thank you Steven for your service and teaching us what is truly important in life and showing us what it’s like to be part of the Firefighter Family.
Hey gang. Here’s another 5 tips to help you become a firefighter. Take note of these and you could increase your chances to landing a career in the fire service.
1. Take responsibility
No one likes someone on their team who lacks personal responsibility. You must hold yourself to high standards and not blame others for your mistakes. You need to learn from mistakes and not repeat a second time. When you are on the job simple mistakes can cost lives. You need to remember, to become a firefighter others are depending on you to do your job. You need to be able to follow directions as instructed , if you don’t like to follow orders from higher up, the fire service may not be for you.
2. Understand the interview
Congratulations, you’ve passed the written exam and selected for an interview. Make sure to prepare for your interview. A candidate can have a stellar resume and still not get offered the position because they failed to connect with the hiring board. The interview is your chance to standout from the pool. The best way to prepare is understand what type of questions they may be asking. The board is trying to find out who you are as a person. Types of questions vary and not all boards will ask the same question. Most start off as telling about yourself and why you want to become a firefighter. They can then follow with situational questions regarding morals, legal issues, ethics, and interpersonal conflicts. The hiring board does not want to hear canned responses. They want to hear answers that are well thought, confident, and truthful. As this is a very important topic, we will have more posts in the future.
3. Visit your local fire station
Visiting your local fire station will give you an idea of what its like to become a firefighter. You should strive to make a good first impression when you walk through the door. Make sure to dress appropriately and ready to ask the right questions. Leaving a bad first impression with local staff can be relayed back to the fire chief or hiring board and ruin your chances. Some good questions to ask would be:
Is there a probation period?
What desired qualifications is the department looking for?
What makes a good candidate?
What did you do to get hired?
What’s important to the hiring board and fire chief?
Listen closely to their answers and make sure to ask additional questions based on their answers. This will let them know that you understand and provide positive feedback.
4. Hang out with the right crowd
You’ve heard the saying, “Birds of the same feather, flock together”. All fire departments work diligently to earn the trust and respect of the local public. The fire department does not want to jeopardize their reputation because you felt like getting drunk and causing a fight at the local bar or hear that your hanging out with a bunch friends who like to smoke pot on the weekends, even though you didn’t smoke it. The fire department does not need controversy. Make sure to choose your friends wisely. Enough said.
5. Be the person the fire department wants in their family
Don’t be the black sheep. You are going to be spending your career working 24-48 hour shifts with your fire service family and brothers. The fire department wants someone that is trusted, respectful, and responsible. We are all unique and we need to express and highlight POSITIVE traits and skills. There is no room for black sheep and NEGATIVITY in the family.
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.
The goal of Become a Firefighter HQ is to become the premier authority in providing information and resources to become a firefighter. If your a jr. explorer, straight out of high school, or looking to make a career change Become a Firefighter HQ is intended for you. The site will include general requirements, interviews, education, physical fitness, training, basic fire science, hiring process, paramedic/ems requirements, fire protection systems, salary, and anything related to the fire service to help you land a job as a firefighter.
Let me be upfront with the harsh realities
The road to becoming a firefighter is very competitive and not easy to accomplish. For every one job opening there are hundreds of applicants. The key is perseverance, consistency, hard work, professionalism, and a little bit of luck. Along with passing the basic requirements there are many other different factors that can lead you to get a position. There is no single path to lead you to landing a career as a firefighter. Research indicates it can take 3 to 7 years to become a paid firefighter. Some can do it in less time and for some will take longer. Most prospects believe the most important aspect is to be the most qualified. The reality is the fire department wants someone qualified that can fit into the firefighter family and brotherhood. In short if the fire chief and hiring board doesn’t like you, they won’t hire you. The prospect pool is large enough for them to be picky. If you have a bad attitude, lack common courtesy, responsibility, and don’t like to follow directions; a firefighter career is not for you.
The most efficient way to be a stand-out firefighter prospect is to understand the job duties and responsibilities
It’s not just putting water on fire. Learning job duties and responsibilities can be attained by taking fire science courses at the community college or online. Valuable experience can also be obtained by becoming a volunteer or reserve firefighter. Most paid fire departments have minimum passing scores for written and physical testing with the remaining part dependent on the interview. The firefighter career path is unique. There are no guarantees that can ensure a prospect will obtain a position. A prospect can be 100% qualified and still not be offered a position, while a less than 100% qualified prospect could be offered a position. Most people outside of the fire service don’t understand this concept, while it makes perfect sense for those inside the fire service. You need to be the person that everyone wants to have in their family.
How Become a Firefighter HQ evolved
This site evolved from experiences learned working in the fire protection/loss prevention industry and interviewing firefighters, fire marshals, fire chiefs, fire captains, battalion officers, and emt/paramedics working in the fire service. For the past 10 years, I’ve worked as a consultant in the loss prevention and fire protection industry, with with numerous clients to help them reduce their risk from fire and other property loss including a multitude of industries and occupancies ranging from hotels, apartments, data centers, manufacturing, distribution warehouses, food and grain processing, metal working, paper processing, plastics, flammable liquids, gas and oil, and automotive paint shops. I am proficient in NFPA Fire Codes, Insurance Data Sheets, and certified as an NFPA Certified Fire Protection Specialist (CFPS).