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So, You Want To Become A Firefighter?

Steve Prziborowski

Already have a two year or four year degree in a non-fire discipline? Many people ask me when they are starting out why they have to get a fire technology two-year degree when they already have a degree in another discipline. Some think it is a waste of time, some think they know what they need to know, some do not have the time to go through more college, some just do not provide a good answer.

While the fire service is looking for educated personnel, we are also looking for personnel who have shown a commitment to the fire service. One way to show your commitment to the fire service is by obtaining a two year degree in fire technology, which should include EMT training, academy training, and education and training in the basics of becoming a firefighter and preparing for future promotional opportunities.

If you have a degree already, here is my suggestion: take your transcripts down to a counselor to see which general education units will transfer over to the college you are applying to be a fire technology student at. Most of your general education should transfer in; I did this when I started out at Chabot College in the early 1990’s, after having received my four year degree.

I went to a counselor, and they accepted all but six units of my general education. So, to get a two year degree in fire technology at Chabot College (as opposed to just a Certificate of Achievement, or no piece of paper whatsoever), all I needed to do was take two, three unit general education classes. That was a no-brainer, and it showed my commitment to the fire service.

Also, imagine not having a fire technology degree when you are in the oral interview, and the oral board asks you “you have a four year degree in Sociology, great. Now, tell us how that applies to the fire service? While I think you can relate a degree in any discipline to the fire service, I think it is tough to really convince the oral board that the fire service is your career choice when you have no formal education in fire technology and you are expecting us to take a chance on someone who has not shown a commitment to the fire service. I would rather take a chance on hiring someone who has completed a two-year degree fire technology program at a community college, including a firefighter 1 academy. I want a proven commodity, so to speak.

Step 4. Start taking as many firefighter entrance examinations as you qualify for.

Every city that has a fire department usually has their own testing process that occurs once every two to four years. For example, if you want to work for the Oakland Fire Department, then you will have to participate in their firefighter examination process.

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