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Becoming a Firefighter: The Two-Year Plan

Battalion Chief Paul Lepore

Enroll in a state certified fire academy.

Many departments require completion of a Firefighter 1 Academy prior to taking the entry-level exam.

Completion of a fire academy prior to being hired will greatly enhance a candidate’s chance of successfully completing the fire department’s academy. Many fire departments have a 25 – 30% failure rate.

Find out if your community has either a fire department volunteer program or Fire Explorers.

Volunteering in the fire department is an excellent way to gain real life experience. This exposure will also allow you to determine if this is indeed the right career choice for you.

Volunteer in your community.

Find something that you are interested in and volunteer your time: church, sports, hospital, YMCA, Red Cross, etc. It doesn’t matter. Get involved. Volunteering is something that should be done because it’s the right thing to do, not because it will look good on a firefighter application.

Firefighters are self-motivated and have historically been involved in their communities. The perception is that if you are helping out in your community now, you will be the type who will likely continue to stay involved after you are hired, helping out in various committees and groups both on and off the job.

Visit the local fire stations.

Interview the firefighters and elicit their help in planning your career path. It is a tremendous compliment to the firefighters to have someone aspire to be in their position. Visiting the fire stations will help you learn about the job and the culture of the fire service. In addition, you will learn of things that you could be doing to enhance your chances of getting hired. Ultimately, when the department hires, you will be in a good position since the firefighters have gotten to know you and have taken the time to mentor you. There is nothing better than a “home grown” prospect.

Prepare for a fire department interview.

Consider the reasons why you want to become a firefighter and be able to express them. Do your research and learn the rules of the road concerning the interview process. Participate in “mock” interviews with firefighters.


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