How to Become a Firefighter

Firefighters are one of the most respected professions in the United States; you might be interested in finding out how to become a firefighter. Firefighters need to be very strong and agile, so you need to keep yourself in good physical condition. Since a growing percentage of calls are in response to medical emergencies, you will need to take basic CPR and emergency medical training. Knowledge of a second language can also be useful for a firefighter.

To gain valuable experience in the field, you can become a paramedic or a volunteer firefighter. Or, you can also work as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or Emergency Medical Dispatcher.


To be a firefighter, you have to be at least 18 years of age and a high school graduate or have your general equivalency diploma (GED). You will have to pass a drug test as well as a rigorous physical exam testing your strength and stamina. This test of strength will determine your capabilities for things like handling high pressure hoses and breaking down doors. You'll also have to take a written firefighting or civil service exam.

You can get all the necessary information about signing up for this test from your local or state fire department. Once you have passed this test, you'll have to interview with a hiring committee at your local fire station.


Competition for firefighting jobs is fierce. If you are hired, you'll be required to complete a two to four month training program conducted by your local fire department. These training programs usually consist of both classroom instruction and practical training on various fire-fighting techniques. You'll also learn very useful information about preventing fires, handling hazardous materials and implementing emergency medical procedures. After your training is completed, you will be on probation for three to six months.

Job Duties

This job can be dangerous and exciting. Besides fighting fires, you might be called upon in other types of emergencies, including: airplane crashes, animal rescues, bomb threats, childbirth, elevator rescues, floods, gas leaks, hazardous material spills and water or ice rescues.

As a firefighter, you might be asked to give presentations to the public about fire safety and prevention. You may also have to investigate and inspect various buildings to ensure that smoke detectors and other fire-related safety equipment are in working order. Sometimes you will have to do maintenance work on equipment, vehicles and buildings to make sure they are ready to respond in an emergency situation.

Types of Jobs

There are a variety of different types of firefighter jobs. Forest or windland firefighters are most often employed by the Federal government and work on brush fires. On the other hand, urban firefighters most often deal with a variety of types of structural fires in the city. Likewise, industrial firefighters have to deal with things like chemical explosions and other types of situations unique to manufacturers and other types of businesses. Other jobs include municipal and volunteer firefighters. As a volunteer, you will receive some basic training and minimal pay for your services.