Becoming a firefighter can add a lot of new skills to your resume and enhance your reputation. Firefighters are a vital part of a community’s emergency response plan. They commonly respond to a wide variety of incidents from low priority medical events to high priority structure fires. They work closely with law enforcement, paramedics, emergency managers, and other fire departments in the region. During disasters, firefighters can travel outside of their state to help others who need support.
Firefighters are typically generalist; they must know something about a lot of things. They wear special personal protective equipment that can cost up to $10,000 each and must make critical decisions in a time compressed environment. They use tools to cut people out of vehicles, force entry into structures, and provide lifesaving treatment to those experiencing a heart attack. They drive vehicles worth a million dollars, and work in all types of conditions. Who can say that? Their mission is to assist others needing help. It is that simple.
There are two types of firefighters, fulltime and volunteer. A fulltime firefighter is not a volunteer, and a volunteer is not a fulltime firefighter. Within the definition of volunteer there are all types of service models. Some volunteers work for no pay, others receive an hourly rate but not forty hours in a week. Some departments have firefighters respond when notified via pager or phone app, and others require their volunteers to work shifts at the fire station. It all depends on the type of service delivery model the community you are working for offers. The service level is determined by the local elected officials voted into office.
If you want to become a firefighter in 2023, first determine if you have the time to offer. In order to respond to incidents, you will have to learn the duties of a firefighter and how to operate equipment. The first order of business is attending school. All firefighters attend classes to learn the basic elements of the fire service. During the first year, you will learn the duties of the firefighter, history, fire science, scene management, the tools they use, and how to put it all together. There is a lot to learn in this job as it can be dangerous. Once the classes are completed, you will test to demonstrate your cognitive and kinesthetic knowledge. While in class, many fire departments allow their rookies to come to the station and even go on calls so they can practice what they are learning in school. Gaining a good insight into the role of the firefighter will help you feel confident in doing your job. Almost all the candidates I have spoken with over the past three decades said they learned skills they would never have learned at college. You will learn to use a chain saw, K12 saw, hydraulic spreaders, ladders, fire hose and nozzles, thermal imaging cameras, and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). You will learn how to tie knots, repel from a tall building, and even fight a live fire. Trust me when I say, you will be challenged. Once school is over, you will gain back a lot of your time and only report to incidents and scheduled training and meetings provided by your fire department.
If you determine you have time to offer, go to your local fire department and learn more about the requirements they have to become a firefighter. If you like what you see, apply for the position. This process can take three to four months. It starts with an application, interviews, physical ability test, and external reviews of your criminal history. Remember, we are hiring someone who is allowed to enter a structure without permission, and even preform medical treatment on patients when they are unconscious. Communities want to make sure their firefighters are trustworthy and professional. Once you are hired for the position, your life will change. You will now be known as the firefighter down the road, and people will want to learn more about your job. It will open so many more opportunities for you. To many, serving in the fire service is like serving in the military.
If you’re looking for a great way to expand your skills, meet new friends, and add to your resume, becoming a firefighter is a perfect way to do it. You will be serving your community and working with a team of people focused on the common good of their neighbor. Your skills will improve and become priceless to you. Start your New Year in doing something outside of your box, totally unexpected, and exciting. Become a firefighter! You can do it.
You can learn more about how to become a firefighter at www.mnfirehire.org.