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10 Steps to Becoming a Firefighter - For Military Service Members

10 Steps to Becoming a Firefighter - For Military Service Members

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Step 4: Picking a Department

There are many things to take into consideration when picking a department. Things like the type of typical response calls the department makes, proximity to where you want to live, or starting pay all are important factors. One of the biggest mistakes made by candidates is having their heart set on one specific department and refusing to apply anywhere else. As anyone with experience will tell you, this is a big no-no.

Once you decide what type of agency you want to work for – for example, a small combination volunteer and paid department, big city department, or working on a wildland crew – figure out WHERE you want to work. Maybe you want to stay near your last duty station, or maybe you want to return to your hometown. Try to narrow it down sooner rather than later, because you want to be sure you’re available in the area for interviews, exams, background checks, etc.

Now that you’ve decided where you want to work, here are a few pointers for narrowing in on the specific departments.

Zeroing in on a department

It is important to do your research on the area’s fire departments. Most importantly, set up a calendar of department hiring schedules so that you can be prepared well in advance. Set up a pro’s and con’s list of all your possible areas of relocation including salary information for those departments, certification requirements, and hiring schedules.

Department reviews

Learn what departments are in the area and start learning about them. Visit individual department websites and learn what sort of units they have, how big the departments are, their chain of command, and anything else you can about the agency. Of special important should be their recruitment section. This may indicate if they’re hiring, or when their next exam may be. It should also list qualifications for the positions, such as maximum age, educational requirements, past military service, etc.


The best way to learn about any department is by getting the inside scoop from people already serving in it. That may seem a `bit tedious when you’re serving your country half a world away. Fortunately, FireLink has an entire community of firefighters and paramedics for you to tap into.

Step 5: Applying for the Job >>