Becoming a Firefighter: The Two-Year Plan
Battalion Chief Paul Lepore
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.
Start a log that includes everything you have done to prepare yourself.
Include details, dates, and names of instructors. Include any personal experiences that may be pertinent to becoming a firefighter. A few examples of this could be:
- You witnessed a car accident and were able to render aid.
- You volunteered your time at the Boys and Girls club.
- You experienced a life-changing event.
- You were voted most inspirational on your athletic team or your fire academy.
- Your high school athletic team won the championship.
- You were a lifeguard at the city pool.
Anything that you think might be significant. There are no rules. Write it down!
This information will go on your resume, or may be speaking points in an interview. This is preparing you to answer difficult questions in an interview, such as, “Please share with the panel a stressful time in your life, and how you dealt with it.”
The log should just be an easy and accessible memory jogger for you. If you are comfortable with a pencil and notepad, keep them in your room in a convenient spot so you won’t forget to use them. If you are more comfortable on the computer, then use it to formulate your thoughts and ideas.
Get in shape.
Firefighting is a very physical job requiring peak physical strength and endurance. If you are not in good physical condition, it will become very evident during the physical agility testing or the pre-hire medical exam. It is also important to look as if you are physically prepared for the job.
If you see a firefighter who looks out of shape, don’t look at him and think, “If he got hired, so can I!” Odds are he was in better physical condition when he was first hired. You are trying to do everything you can to improve your chances. This is a very important part that you have complete control over!