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Five things to consider when joining a fire department.

Updated: May 27, 2022

Joining a local fire department is a big decision, and it requires you to consider your future. Most fire departments across the nation rely on people who respond to emergencies during their free time. They are known as volunteers, on-call, or duty crew firefighters. Your local town board or council determines the model your community operates. If you decide that you are willing to serve your community, there are five things you should consider before you request an application. Doing so will help with answering the interview questions and let the interview board know you have been thinking ahead.

1. Do you have spare time to serve?

Responding to emergencies is a 24/7 job. Although you will not be required to attend every dispatched incident, you need to be available for calls to support the team heading to the fire station. This team is loyal to one another, and we do not want them waiting for others to arrive. Make a list of all the things that you do and determine if you have enough time to give away. Rural departments may require up to 10 hours per week, and suburbs could be double that. Once you decide your time budget, you can ask the interview panel the expectations they have for the position. If it fits, you are good. If not, you may not want to consider moving forward. This position will require time away from home.

2. Are you ready to learn?

Becoming a firefighter will require you to go back to school. Firefighters are required to become certified or licensed and that will require you to set aside time to read manuals, participate on-line, and demonstrate that you understand the concepts being taught. The classes are instructor led, using visual displays, and kinesthetic learning. You will need to pass quizzes and tests to advance. Once your certifications are achieved, you will participate in department training on a regular basis.

3. Are you physically fit?

If you can imagine what a firefighter is tasked with doing, you can understand why firefighters must be able to lift, squat, pull, drag, bend, kneel, and crawl. You do not have to be Hulk Hogan, but you do have to be fit enough to work with seventy pounds of gear on your body while in a smoke filled and hot environment. You may be assigned to move a patient who is unconscious or carry equipment up a ladder to the roof. The duties of a firefighter are unpredictable and ever changing. You can go from sitting at the dinner table to crawling inside an attic space within minutes. Physical fitness must be maintained to remain effective in the world of public safety.

4. Can you work well as a team member?

Firefighters work in teams. If there is a firefighter walking around doing things without another person, they better be on an assignment, or they are freelancing. That gets people hurt. There is only one other person who can help a firefighter when they are in trouble. That is another firefighter. Those who work best in teams know that we are all different in many ways but have strengths to assist the team in winning. We agree to disagree. If you become a firefighter, you will work with a wide range of people coming from many generations and need to get along. Working independently is rare on the fire ground.

5. You must have a positive outlook.

It is hard to forget what the eyes of a firefighter see. When the 911 call comes into the dispatch center, the incident is already in progress, so our job is to slow it down and work to end the chaos. We never know what we are going to arrive to and sometimes, it is not pretty. We are commonly responding to things that can create a negative impact on US if we dwell on the negatives. Having a positive outlook is critical to good mental health and a strong organization. Is your cup half full or half empty?

Becoming a firefighter is an amazing experience and one that will bring you a lot of skills and lessons. The key to a successful career is to be prepared so you can meet the requirements, be safe, and have fun. The firefighter is regularly listed as one of the most trusted people in the United States. Why? Because we are only here to serve others. A very honorable purpose. Good luck in your journey to become a firefighter. Please connect with if you have any further questions.


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