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How to Get Started as a Career Firefighter

These days firefighters do a lot more than put out fires. They rescue people, they direct fire prevention programs, they handle hazardous chemicals and they do inspection or investigation. In addition, firefighters do maintenance work and cleaning of their hoses and other equipment so that they will be prepared to respond swiftly when there is a fire emergency. Also, cities depend on firefighters to provide emergency medical transportation during natural disasters or other occasions when they are needed.

Firefighters work 56 hours per week or more if needed; much depends on how often fires occur in their locale. Firefighters work in a fire station with other firefighters, and they are paid approximately USD $47,000 per year or more. The demand for firefighters is projected to grow in the coming years. If you are interested in getting started as a career firefighter, the following are steps that you need to take.

Decide What City You Want to Work In

Determine what city you want to be a career firefighter in. Go to the city personnel offices in order to find out if there are any plans to hire firefighters in the near future. Also, at the city personnel offices, ask general questions about what the application process will be like.

Meet Minimum Requirements

Be at least 21 years old. In some locales, you could potentially be a volunteer firefighter when you are as young at 18 years old; however, being a full-fledged firefighter typically occurs at age 21 or older. Get at least a high school diplmoma. College is not required; however, if you go to college, fire science would be a useful major. Have a record that is clear of felonies or chronic drug abuse. Having a valid driver’s license is necessary. Also, be certain that you are willing to tolerate the extreme levels of stress that come with this job.

Being a firefighter is psychologically and physically demanding. Fear cannot limit you, and you have to be strong enough to carry hoses and other equipment that you need to carry to put out fires and do other aspects of this job. Being a career firefighter is a 24-hour a day job. You could get called to go fight a fire at any time. This is an active job; you will not be doing a lot of deskwork. You need to have a genuine desire to serve others; you must be willing to risk your own life in order to save others’ lives.

Get Paramedic Training and Pass Exams

Before applying to be a career firefighter, get a paramedic’s license. Many fire departments happen to be actively seeking licensed paramedics. So, you will greatly improve your chances of acceptance for firefighting training if you already have a paramedic credential at the time you pursue being a firefighter.

Take and pass the required exams. The nature of the exams will vary depending on the locale. Sometimes you might be required to pass a civil service test. Other times you might have to pass a firefighter’s entrance exam. Cities tend to develop their own tests in order to assess candidates’ aptitude in a way that fits their particular locale.

Candidates are required to go through a background check, a polygraph test, a drug test, a psychological assessment and an interview. Also required is the Candidate Physical Ability test (CPA); this test assesses candidates’ endurance, flexibility, strength and general fitness. Exam results are used to rank candidates. If a candidate is offered a job as a firefighter, there is a post-hire medical exam.

First Year of Work

The first year of work as a career firefighter will be probationary. Adjusting to the stressful 24-hour schedule will be most difficult. You will find it very challenging; perseverance will be necessary. As a newly-hired firefighter, everything that you do on the job will be evaluated. Then, if you manage to get through the first year of firefighting work successfully, depending on the locale, there could be an additional state written exam and a practical certification exam.

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