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Full-Time Firefighter... Where to begin?

Every day, people inquire through the Minnesota Fire Hire website wondering… How do I become a full-time firefighter? Although it may seem like a position that you would simply apply to, there are multiple certifications that full-time departments look for that you need to have prior to applying. Here is the list:

Firefighter I Certification

Firefighter I is the basic firefighter certification. The main objectives of this certification include:

  • The history of the fire service

  • Recognize basic building construction types

  • Describe key fire behavior

  • Identify different types of water distribution systems

  • Describe the different support skills necessary for fire suppression, including but not limited to ladders, ventilation, forcible entry, and ropes and knots

  • Describe the methods to safely perform a search and rescue in an Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) environment.

Firefighter II Certification

Firefighter II is the advanced certification for a firefighter to have. The main competencies include:

  • Operate in the Incident Command System

  • Interpret and apply rescue terminology during an emergency operation

  • Identify the different types of detection systems and their limitations and capabilities

  • Participate in public fire education activities and demonstrate information geared to the appropriate audience

  • Explain proper procedures for protecting a fire scene for fire investigation

  • Explain the importance of the 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives.

Hazardous Materials Certification

HazMat Ops is the most common requirement for full-time firefighters. Other HazMat certifications may be required depending on the department and their policies. Here is the overview of HazMat Ops:

  • Identify local emergency response plans and standard operating guidelines.

  • Recognize nine hazard classes as defined by the Department of Transportation.

  • Explain the hazards associated with each hazard class.

  • Analyze the importance of understanding chemical and physical properties of hazardous materials.

  • Apply the terms used on Material Safety Data Sheets.

  • Demonstrate the use of the North American Emergency Response Guidebook.

  • Donning and doffing the various levels of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

  • Evaluate the methods used to determine isolation and evacuation decisions.

  • Demonstrate the four types of decontamination.

Emergency Medical Technician

Overview: This course follows the current National Standard Curriculum and will include all skills and classroom information necessary to provide emergency care at the basic life support level. Modules presented include preparation of the EMT-B, airway, patient assessment (medical and trauma), medical/behavioral emergencies and OB/GYN, trauma, infants and children, ambulance operations and interventions (medications and semi-automatic defibrillation). Upon successful completion of the EMT-B course, the student will be eligible to take the state/national registry computer and practical examinations.

Firefighter I, Firefighter II, HazMat Ops, and EMT are among the most common basic certifications needed to become a full-time firefighter in the state of Minnesota. These can be acquired by joining your local volunteer/ paid on-call fire department (also gaining experience!) or by enrolling yourself into your local community college. There may be more certifications required, or, there may be less! Be sure to read the job description and application thoroughly. Questions? Contact

All information regarding courses was taken from where you can register to take these courses.


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