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Everything You Need to Know About Becoming a Firefighter

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are more than one million firefighters in the US. These heroic individuals keep communities safe. They risk their lives to rescue people from dangerous environments.

Firefighters are some of the most respected and valuable members of any community. Choosing to become one requires courage and diligence. But what else do you need to become a firefighter?

This guide will explore everything you need to know about becoming a firefighter. This information can help you prepare for a career that’s bound to change the world for the better!

Becoming a Firefighter: Basic Requirements

Before you apply to your local fire station, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the basic requirements of becoming a firefighter. After all, a career as a firefighter is physically and mentally demanding. You’ll need to prove that you’re healthy and knowledgeable before you start saving lives.

Proof of Education

You’ll need to show proof of a high school diploma or GED before becoming a firefighter. If you don’t have these qualifications, be sure to consider enrolling in a local GED program right away. After you’ve earned your GED, you can begin preparing for the CPAT test.

Passing the CPAT

Firefighting equipment easily weighs 50lbs or more, so firefighters must be in pique physical condition at all times. The Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) is a multi-event test that challenges the physical abilities of prospective firefighters.

During this test, you can expect to climb stairs, carry heavy equipment, and force your way into blocked-off rooms. Each event is designed to simulate typical firefighting duties and tasks.

Passing the Written Exam

Physical ability isn’t the only thing that prospective firefighters are tested on. Candidates must also pass a written exam! Question topics tend to include problem-solving, mechanical knowledge, and attitude assessments.

Fortunately, you can prepare for this exam by studying and completing practice tests.

Undergoing a Psychological Evaluation

One of the final steps of becoming a firefighter is undergoing (and passing) a psychological evaluation. Unfortunately, there’s no way to prepare for this evaluation. That said, being honest and forthright during your evaluation is crucial and may increase your chances of passing.

Firefighter Tips to Get You Hired

Fulfilling the basic requirements is a great way to get started on your path to becoming a firefighter. However, it might not be enough to earn you a position as a career firefighter. To increase your hiring chances, let’s examine a couple of helpful firefighter tips.

Get Certified

The most desirable firefighter candidates tend to have an EMT and fire academy certification. Candidates without them can struggle to find a position as a career firefighter. For that reason, it’s often worthwhile to earn these certifications before applying to your local fire station.

Volunteer

Many career firefighters start their journey by becoming volunteer firefighters. While this isn’t a paid opportunity, it is a chance to know the ins and outs of the fire rescue profession. Volunteer firefighters also offer vital support services, maintaining firefighting equipment and filing reports.

Career Vs. Volunteer Firefighter

Beginning your firefighting career as a volunteer is an excellent way to gain experience, sharpen your skills, and meet like-minded individuals. However, there are differences between becoming career firefighters and volunteer firefighters.

Some essential differences include:

  • Payment
  • Shift lengths
  • Required education

One of the primary differences between a career and a volunteer firefighter is payment. Volunteers aren’t paid for their work, while career firefighters earn a salary.

Career firefighters also tend to work longer shifts, with many managing their local fire station for 24 hours or longer. Volunteers can work multiple shifts throughout the day, but they’re often required or encouraged to take extended breaks between shifts.

When you choose a career as a firefighter, you’re also choosing to pursue certifications in fire training and EMT services. Volunteers don’t need to earn these certifications. A volunteer firefighter also isn’t permitted to attend emergency calls.

Benefits of Becoming a Firefighter

A career as a firefighter can be far more rewarding than other types of occupations. It also comes with its own set of benefits, including:

  • Protecting lives and property
  • Becoming part of a family
  • Community respect and gratitude
  • Life-long job security

If you’re unsure about becoming a firefighter, you’ll want to take a moment to consider these benefits.

Protecting Lives and Property

Giving back to your community can help you live a happier life. And when you’re a firefighter, you’re saving lives, protecting homes and businesses, and defending the environment. Few careers offer as many opportunities to make a positive difference.

Becoming Part of a Family

When you’re a firefighter, you’re never alone. That’s because firefighter teams live and work together, spending day-long shifts tending to emergencies and manning the local firehouse. As such, your fellow firefighters will quickly become a second family, offering constant support and fellowship.

Community Respect and Gratitude

Firefighters save lives and protect the environment, and this service doesn’t go unnoticed. These courageous individuals gain the enduring respect of gratitude of community members and leaders.

One of the ways to honor firefighters is via challenge coins. These are small tokens that celebrate the efforts and bravery of a firefighter. Once you become a firefighter, you can wear them proudly to show your solidarity with other fire rescue heroes.

Life-Long Job Security

Capable and well-educated career firefighters are almost always in high demand. Consequently, a career in fire rescue can offer a level of job security that’s rarely found with other jobs. Firefighters are also eligible for pensions upon retiring, ensuring long-lasting financial security for you and your family.

Enjoy a Career in Fire Rescue

A job as a firefighter is one of the most fulfilling careers a person could pursue. After all, becoming a firefighter is an excellent way to make a positive difference in your community. You’ll need proof of a high school diploma or GED to get started.

You’ll also need to pass the firefighter written exam, psychological evaluation, and CPAT test. You can increase your chances of finding employment as a firefighter by earning firefighter and EMT certifications, as well as becoming a volunteer firefighter.

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