Becoming a Firefighter: The Two-Year Plan
Battalion Chief Paul Lepore
If still in high school look into a Regional Occupational Program (ROP).
Many local fire departments have community outreach recruitment programs.
Graduate from high school or obtain your GED.
A diploma is much preferred. Talk with a counselor at a community college that offers fire science courses.
Set up a course curriculum that allows you to obtain a two-year degree in fire science. If the local college does not offer a fire science program, find one that does.
This curriculum should also allow you to complete the prerequisite courses for a fire academy.
Take an Emergency Medical Technician Course (EMT).
This will accomplish a few things. First of all, it is a course required by most departments. It will also let you know if this profession is for you. If you find you can’t handle the sight of blood or helping people during crises, the fire service may not be for you.
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.