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So, You Want To Become A Firefighter?

Steve Prziborowski

Step 6. Other relevant information to assist you in becoming a firefighter:

• Think twice about getting that visible tattoo or getting your body pierced in visible areas. Some fire departments have rules that prohibit visible tattoos or body piercings.

• If you presently smoke, attempt to quit. Many fire departments require you to sign a document stating you have not smoked for the past year, and that you will not smoke at any point while you are employed by their department.

• Buy yourself one nice outfit to wear to the oral interviews. This includes a nice suit (pants and coat), dress shirt, tie, polished dress shoes, dark socks, etc. Basically a conservative look. Keep the jewelry to a minimum. For females, a nice pant suit or dress that makes you look professional (not something you would wear out on a date or to a cocktail party). Besides firefighter oral interviews, you can use that suit for weddings, funerals, and other important events. Invest in your wardrobe and it will pay dividends.

• Keep yourself appropriately groomed. Many fire departments have rules prohibiting facial hair (except for a moustache). While some of you might enjoy wearing that goatee or beard, realize you’ll have to shave it once you get hired. Get used to not having it now. Wearing a goatee, beard, or even long hair to an interview or during any phase of the hiring process, can severely reduce your chances for getting hired with that department.

NOTE: You might be wondering why I included the above information regarding grooming and personal attributes. While it is a true a fire department is not legally allowed to discriminate based on appearance (among other things), realize that perception is reality. That means that you can be the best paramedic in the world, but if you have tattoos and body piercings all over your body, you’re potentially going to be perceived negatively. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong; I’m just saying it is human nature and reality. Avoid the whole situation entirely and just be conservative in your approach. Remember that it is important to stick out in the hiring process; and that means in a positive way, not a negative way! Stick out in a positive way such as having a unique background of experience or other qualifications to bring to the table such as being bilingual or having your paramedic license.

• Start educating yourself on the job of a firefighter and the operations of a fire department so that when you are talking to firefighters, visiting fire stations, and participating in the various events of the hiring process (such as the oral interview), you can talk in an educated way and actually sound like you know what you’re talking about. Knowing the difference between an Engine and a Truck is important PRIOR to the oral interview. One way to learn as much as you can about the job of a firefighter and how the operations of fire departments can be similar yet different, start visiting websites of fire departments.

• Start keeping yourself up-to-date on what is going on in the fire service. Have your fingers on the pulse of the fire service by subscribing to the numerous free email mailing lists that provide valuable information such as fire service news stories, employment opportunities, volunteer opportunities, training opportunities and other relevant fire service information to help best prepare you to become a firefighter. Remember that nothing worth having in life is going to come to you easily. It is up to you to remain positive, remain focused, and remain motivated to continue doing what it takes to become a firefighter. There are going to be many frustrating and disappointing moments while testing to become a firefighter; the key point is that you recognize your weaknesses, be open to constructive criticism, and continue to pursue that dream of becoming a firefighter. Once you give up, you give up and let someone else take your spot riding on that fire engine you dreamed of riding on!

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