So, you think you want to be a Firefighter?
Q. What exactly does a Firefighter do?
- Extinguish fires of all types (structure,
- Provide emergency medical care to the sick
and injured as EMT's/Paramedics.
- Respond to traffic collisions and perform
- Respond to hazardous materials incidents.
- Perform fire prevention and safety
inspections of buildings/ occupancies.
- Presentations to the public on fire safety
and disaster preparedness.
- Training (your education never
ends)-Firefighters must be proficient at many things.
- Clean, maintain, and repair fire
apparatus/equipment and stations.
education/work experience/qualifications should I have?
- Complete your high school education.
- Go to college-get a 2-year or 4-year
degree (e.g. AA in Fire Science, BS-any major). College helps make you a
well-rounded individual, helps you develop your communication skills, exposes you to a
variety of people and situations.
- Obtain EMT-I
certification (Allan Hancock
College, ph# 805-922-6411 or Cuesta College ph# 805-546-3140 offers this certification class).
Hancock College has a fire science program).
- Get experience-Cal-Fire (805-543-4244) or US Forest
Service (805-925-9538) as a seasonal Firefighter, reserve/paid call Firefighter with Pismo
Beach, South Bay, Grover Beach, Arroyo Grande, Morro Bay, Avila Beach, Atascadero, Paso
Robles, Cal-Fire/County Fire volunteer companies, etc.
Become an EMT-I with a private ambulance
company (San Luis Ambulance, American Medical Response).
- Paramedic school/licensure-Daniel Freeman
Hospital in Los Angeles, NCTI in Santa Barbara County, Kern County EMSA).
- Develop/maintain physical fitness and
strength - upper body strength and aerobic capacity.
- Learn a second language (e.g. Spanish).
do I find out about entry level Firefighter examinations?
- Subscribe to the mailing service of
Perfect Firefighter Candidate test notification service (1-800-326-8401),
or Fire Hire, etc.
- Submit interest cards to Fire
Department/Human Resource Departments. The State Fire Marshal's Office has a
directory of all the Fire Departments in the state.
- Research the Departments you will be
testing with - visit the stations, talk with the people who work there.
is involved in the testing process?
A. It differs from department-to-department,
but in general ...
- Application - often have to wait in line
to get one.
- Written test - general aptitude test which
covers math, reading comprehension, mechanical aptitude, problem-solving abilities.
- Physical agility test - several tasks.
This may be timed and/or pass/fail. Usually tests strength and aerobic
fitness. Few or no learned skills are tested.
- Oral Board Interview - the big hurdle.
- Chief's Oral Interview - the top several
candidates get this far.
- Background check.
- Physiological testing/physical
type of person is the Fire Department looking for?
A. Male or female, team-player, motivated,
flexible/adaptive ability to think on feet, ability to work long hours under stressful
conditions, ability to work with/get along with all types of people/personalities, ability
to take direction/follow commands, bilingual, but most of all, someone who enjoys helping
much do Firefighters make?
A. Full-time, professional Firefighters
start at approximately $50,000 per year locally. Firefighters who are also licensed as Paramedics can make a little more.
In Conclusion ...
Be persistent, don't give up. Take all the
tests you can. It may take several years. The competition for entry level
positions is very high. Use the time to build your qualifications. It is a
great way to make a living!