It is not an easy task to become a firefighter as it demands high levels of physical endurance, mental toughness and an innate ability to serve people. If you want to be a firefighter, it requires several qualifications and personality skills than it is considered to be.
Fire, amongst all natural forces has the dangerous ability to wipe out the existence of a place, person or thing within no time. Every year, all across the world, fire accidents result in disastrous losses and lethal personal injuries. As per the statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fire accidents rate among the 5th most common cause of unintentional deaths in the US. Moreover, as per the US Fire Administration (UFSA), in 2008, fire was responsible for more deaths than the deaths resulting due to all natural disasters combined. Since these data are certainly horrific, controlling and fighting fire accidents is something that is now a major task for government agencies. In this regard, firefighter jobs are considered to be ones that come with great responsibility. Career opportunities have increased to a great extent in this field. But being a fire is something that is not for everyone. Rigorous training and difficult selection process ensures that the best candidates are screened for the tough job of firefighters. No doubt you need to have the dedication and passion to serve the society but at the same time, proving your competence is something that you can’t neglect.
Steps to be a Firefighter
How to become a firefighter? The first step is to seek a high school diploma or an equivalent educational qualification. It is one of the minimum requirements in this field with respect to educational degree. But this doesn’t negate the importance of higher degrees in firefighting courses, emergency training education and similar courses. In fact, after high school, you must take a bachelor’s degree in courses related to firefighting and first aid, emergency aid etc. This will be regarded as a great advantage in getting you employment. The competition is tough and to stand apart from others, make your profile rich.
Some basic requirements to be a firefighter are that you must be between 18 to 21 years of age and you must also be a citizen of US. The age limit is not a fixed parameter and it varies depending on every state. Inquire in your state fire department about the eligibility age. Once you’re in the eligibility bracket with required educational degrees, you can apply for firefighter’s post in your local fire department of the state. After acceptance of your application form, two phases of examination will be conducted. Firstly, you have to crack a written exam and if you do that, you’re required to go for a complete medical check up by a doctor recruited by the fire department.
Exams You Need to Qualify
Both mental and physical aspects of your personality will be put to test during the medical examination. If the written exam is tougher, the physical and psychological tests are toughest. You must be competent enough to live in challenging situations, wear heavy firefighting gear and must be able to pick up heavy loads. These tests are designed in such a way so that only those who have the potential to carry out numerous activities entailed in firefighter job description are screened out from the rest. It is a test to choose the best!
Clearing the physical examination qualifies you to attend an interview or oral examination. Your communication skills and your responsiveness, mental toughness and patience will be tested. The interviewer will pose questions to you like, ‘Why do you wish to be a firefighter’, ‘Firefighting is a risky job, aren’t you afraid’ etc. These are meant to test your inclination to the job that must cross beyond a mere interest or passion to do it. Your will and determination must be reflected in your voice, confidence and humility. In the last step to be a firefighter, you will be required to go through a probation period or training period to master the complexities of this profession. This will make you eligible to obtain licenses and enter in the profession officially.
Being a Voluntary Firefighter
Many people who don’t wish to become a full-time firefighter have the option to become volunteer firefighters. Becoming a volunteer firefighter still is not an easy task and you have to contact your local fire department to check if they have any such programs. Moreover, you must think twice before committing to such programs because you will have to go through a training process of 110 hours so that you get the required certificate to work as a voluntary firefighter. Nonetheless, it’s a great way to serve your community. Not all volunteers work for money as this is not at all very rewarding for a volunteer firefighter. Being a voluntary firefighter is more of a service so you must not think about monetary gains. Still, many states have small tax free reimbursement programs for volunteer firefighters for their working shifts and time spent.
It is a very rewarding field if you want to be a firefighter because nothing is more valuable than saving a life. If monetary benefits are worrying you, then mind you, firefighter average salary is very decent and besides the salary, there are numerous health insurance benefits and retirements plans. Starting from USD 30,000 per year, a firefighter can earn as high as USD 80,000 per year, in a career than spans over 20 to 25 years. Early retirement of firefighters also gives them an opportunity to pursue a new career in mid 40s. Salary of a firefighter must not be a big issue for those who’re passionate to be one. So with the right temperament, intelligence and good physical endurance, you can succeed as a firefighter.