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My son who is a high school graduate wants to be a firefighter (I'm so proud of him already for wanting to help people). Can someone please give us an idea of where to begin? It was suggested he go to the local Community College and take the EMT course. He is in the process of seeing which schools off it. Is that a good start and where should he go after that? Thank you for your help.

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Definitely the emt, after that contact your local civil service board or fire dept to find out when their offering a new test for firefighters. Their are some good study guides out their to prepare him for the test, I would recommend getting them from a site like or ebay you can usually find a dozen of different ones for the price of 1 new one. Getting a high score is crucial to get to the next step. You may also want to do a search for "cpat" so that you can see what will be expected of him and so that he can begin training for it. Alot of depts across the country have adopted the cpat for new recruits to make sure they can do the job. The town , city or state in which you live in might not recognize the cpat and may have their own physical agility test that you will want to find out about.
It would be beneficial for him to drop by a station and ask some of these questions in person, not only to get his face into peoples heads but to get definite answers to some of these questions. Every state is different so asking the local dept is your best bet. Take care and good luck
Thanks so much for the guidance. I will pass this info on to my son. One other thing it was also suggested that he become a volunteer firefighter, what do you think about that? Also does it matter where you get your training? We live outside of St. Louis Missouri.
I was recently hired with the Anchorage Fire Department, I'm certainly no expert at the hiring process, but the best resource I was pointed toward is Fire Captain Bob. -you can find all his study guides at that site. Good luck.
Its definitely not a bad idea, that way he can make sure that its work he wants to do for the rest of his life. I was a volunteer for years before I got my job. Weather it helped me or not who knows there is two sides of the coin their. Some people believe that the experience is good where others believe that in a carer dept they will want to train you with a clean slate. Personally I think its a good idea that wont hurt him in his resume. Not to mention the volunteer dept might pay for his emt for him so thats a bonus.

PMcGowan said:
Thanks so much for the guidance. I will pass this info on to my son. One other thing it was also suggested that he become a volunteer firefighter, what do you think about that? Also does it matter where you get your training? We live outside of St. Louis Missouri.
Becoming an EMT will definitely help him in getting a paid position. You/he may also want to check out your local fire departments some may offer an Explorer Program through the Boy Scouts that will allow him to join now while in high school. This would allow him to get a taste of what it is like so he will know if firefighting is for him; he may find out he prefers the medical side of things. Most volunteer fire departments in my area accept new members at age 18 and some accept junior members at 16. Good luck and I hope it works out for him.
In many states, vets go right to the top of the list. In NJ, if you want the job, you had best be in the military and serve abroad. We have over 100 people on the top of our list that are all vets. I think the first non-vet person is about 170 on the list. Sign of the times
The volunteer angle might work well depending on where you live. Many combination departments – having both volunteer and career positions – hire from within their own ranks. Not that it is a guarantee but it gives a candidate an opportunity to show what he/she is made of – how dedicated they are to the job, their brothers/sisters and what kind of “love for the job” they have. It is also a great opportunity to see if the job is really what they want…and in some cases, he might make good money being a volunteer. Some departments use the term Paid On Call (POC) – their “volunteers” are paid for every hour of service – including training. I know of POCs making $20,000+ a year.

I also agree with the post about EMT school – that certainly gives one a leg up on the competition. If he is looking to join a department that provided emergency medical services (EMS), tell him not to stop at EMT – get his paramedic certification – that is the single most important thing to me (we provide EMS and having someone come in the door as a Paramedic is VALUABLE!) . In my part of the country we have a hard time recruiting firefighter/paramedics.

A fire science degree might be helpful but personally I think getting the firefighter certifications first is a better approach. The degree can be obtained later.

On last thing – tell him to guard his reputation. The firefighting community is close and it is hard to shake a bad rep…that includes driving record! I know of several “great” candidates who cannot get hired because of terrible driving records.

Good luck

The military is a great place to start. The other option is to check into student live in programs as well. I lived in a fire house in Rockville in MD. They take care of college, training and room and board. It was the best thing I did. He would also be net working with firefighters from around the US.

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