Home Jobs & Education How to Become a Firefighter in the USA

Becoming a firefighter is no easy tasks, not to mention actually being one. If anyone wishes to know how to become a firefighter in the USA today, then they should first understand the duties of such a profession. A firefighter has the objective to secure the fire scene and provide a safe environment for colleagues. Not to mention that at least a basic knowledge on medical aid is required.

How to Become a Firefighter

As many already realize, becoming a firefighter is no easy job. There are quite a number of requirements a person needs to fulfill before applying for a firefighter position. Yes, being physically fit is important, but is not the only precondition. First things first however there are a few things each person considering to become a firefighter needs to know:

  • In the majority of states being a U.S. citizen is a must. In Texas however a person doesn’t have to be necessarily a U.S. citizen but must have a permit to work full time and the immigration status must be current.
  • In most states the minimum age required is 18.
  • Have no criminal record.
  • Have a high school diploma or GED certificate.
  • Good vision in both eyes is required.
  • Some states require a valid driver’s license with a clean driving record.

firefighters at work - how to become a firefighter

Firefighter Training & Certification

In most states, people who consider becoming a firefighter must first obtain two types of certification. These apply to people who never experienced fire fighting and as a result must first undergo training courses. The minimum standards established by Commissions on Fire Protection in most states include 468 hours training. The courses are as follows:

  • Fire Fighter I.
  • Fire Fighter II.
  • Awareness of Hazardous Materials.
  • Operations of Hazardous Materials.

Alongside them, some states such as Florida also require an Emergency Medical Technician certificate. Also referred to as EMT-Basic this is an important requirement because more than eighty percent of calls are medical care related.

If you wonder how to become a volunteer firefighter a Fire Fighter I certificate is required. Moreover, to be a career firefighter a certification as a Fire Fighter II is in order. These need to be obtained in that order. Alongside them many states also require an EMT-Basic certificate to be able to provide at least minimum medical aid. An EMT-Basic training program usually lasts for 250 hours. It is divided in several sections both written and practical.

Fire Fighting Training and Tests: How Long Does It Take to Become a Firefighter?

Large fire departments run their own fire academies. So it is best to check the specific department you’re looking to apply for. After completing basic fire suppression training the next step would be to take the fire suppression exam. It consists of both written and physical tests. In many states to be able to pass the written exam a score of at least 70 is required. For the physical test however all skill requirements have to be passed. These physical skill requirements consist of: lifting, hauling equipment and climbing.

For the EMT certificate however the procedure is a little different. The certificate is given by the National Registry of EMT. Some fire departments require Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or paramedic certificate. Usually applicants are required to:

  • Complete a training program that in most cases lasts for 250 hours.
  • Pass all sections of EMT-B written and practical tests.
  • Submit all required documents.
  • Be at least 18 years old.

A number of agencies are offering medical certification and training programs. These agencies are:

  • American Red Cross Emergency Response Course.
  • American Safety and Health Training.
  • National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians.
  • Department of State Health Services Emergency Medical Service Personnel.

Each of these agencies should be contacted in order to get detailed information regarding their programs. However most fire academies provide emergency medical training as part of their curriculum. This means that no additional training in required. Nevertheless, if the fire department in question includes medical training, they will coordinate the medical training and testing with the certifying entity. Keep in mind that even if a certified firefighter has not been employed for three years since its last employment, that person will undergo re-examination. Practical Retention Examination alongside Medical Examination are the two requirements needed to be fulfilled.

Becoming a Firefighter: Background Checks

Another important step in becoming a firefighter is the background check. Upon completing the fire and medical training and testing a person must undergo a background check. In order to do fingerprints are usually taken and criminal record is studied.

If you wonder how to become a firefighter In Texas, learn that fingerprint based checks are done through a vendor. IdentoGo is a vendor that checks for criminal history. A fee of $41.45 is required to undergo the background check. The results of the criminal history background check are made available within three to five days after you submit your fingerprints. Please keep in mind however that the Application for Certification should be submitted the same time your fingerprint information is submitted to IdentoGO.

In the end all applications received by the Bureau of Fire Standards and Training will require a small application processing fee. Depending on the state in question the fees can range from $25-30 to $85-100. Keep in mind however that if a person does not meet the certification firefighter requirements or passes the criminal history background check, that person will not receive the application fee back.

So how do you become a firefighter? When all procedure steps are fulfilled a person may apply for basic fire suppression certificate.

We hope this article has proven to be most useful in providing the information needed on how to become a firefighter, especially about firefighter training and other requirements. As always, a lot of time and effort is required to become a career firefighter. However, having the chance to help the community is always a reward in itself. Firefighters risk not only their lives but they also sacrifice much of their personal or social lives as well. Having to be ready all the time when an emergency arises, firefighting is definitely one of the most stressful professions out there. As always we hope that the brave men and women who are risking their lives for others may return safe to their families.

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Gabrielle Moreno

Hi, my name is Gabrielle, but all my friends call me Gaby. Having a degree in foreign languages, I first intended to develop a career in translations, but then I realized human interaction is more satisfying and got engaged in educational projects. Writing is my second best skill after teaching. I started writing about jobs and education based on my experience of not knowing what career path to choose. Sharing my knowledge and experience is the most rewarding aspect of my work, especially when I see it really touches people. Therefore, I look forward to reading your comments, thoughts and opinions. Feel free to contact me.


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