Updated: Mar 24
The fire service is a fantastic industry full of excitement, tradition, and purpose. During my career, I have had the opportunity to work with people who gave their lives to serving others and doing good for their community. I have witnessed firefighters conquer unbelievable challenges and go back to the station as if nothing happened. Another day at the office! You may have seen a firefighter in action and wondered how you could get a job like that. How could YOU become one of the trusted few? Well, let me help you.
Before I go through how to become a firefighter, let me first tell you about our firefighters in Minnesota. There are currently 774 fire departments in our State, housing 20,032 firefighters protecting over 5.5 million residents. Of those firefighters, only 1,528 of them have a full-time job doing it. That's right, the majority of our firefighters in Minnesota participate AFTER their work hours. They juggle their daily workload and family time with serving their community. The people you see on emergency scenes may have just been attending their daughter's soccer game, mowing the lawn, or sleeping at home. In fact, they may have their pajamas on under that personal protective equipment. Seriously!
Most communities rely on volunteer or paid-on-call firefighters to provide services to their residents. Its been a tradition in this country for hundreds of years. There was a law for residents to have a leather bucket next to their doorway to use in a "bucket brigade" should there be a fire. Putting out fires was a community event. Everyone had to assist. That led to a more formalized fire service, with our first full-time firefighters being hired in Cincinnati, Ohio. Minnesota has enjoyed a long history of service from those who simply want to serve their community and become part of something meaningful and with great purpose. The position of a firefighter is considered a public position. It represents the community you would serve with and those serving as a firefighter worldwide, one of the most trusted titles in the United States.
To become a firefighter in Minnesota, you will first want to discover the type of fire department you want to be part of. Does the community you live in have volunteers (does not always mean they are not compensated), on-call, or a combination of full-time and on-call? If you live in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, or Rochester, they only hire full-time firefighters. You can search the community website or social media to learn more or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to assist you.
If you decide you want to apply for a firefighter position, you will need to complete an employment application. It will be reviewed, and you may be contacted for an interview. Many communities hold information sessions to learn more about the fire department and see the station and equipment. Consider it an informal discussion for them to know more about you too. It has to be the right fit for you and them. If you are selected to move through the process, there are typical steps for you to go through. They may include a criminal history check, psychological evaluation, and health screening. Remember, the firefighter is a public position, and the community's insurance and reputation need to be protected. Therefore, they have to ensure they hire someone who will represent them well. Once you complete all of the phases required and are officially hired, you will need to attend basic training to learn firefighter skills. That process can take up to five months. Consider it like attending college. You will be issued personal protective equipment and learn how to use it and when to put it on. You will learn how to use power tools, deploy and climb ladders, fight fires, tie knots, and more. There is always a lot to learn in this field. We have become the Swiss Army knife over the years and can be called to anything. While attending classes, you may be allowed to respond to the station for emergency calls. This is a great time to put your new lessons into action and see how your department handles things. Some departments may even allow you to go to calls to gain experience watching the pros at work. This is an exciting time.
The role of a firefighter is not always fun. It does require you to attend regular meetings, participate in training and meet requirements to stay in good standing with your fire department. From a Chief's perspective, we are looking for those who have TIME to give and who can participate with a positive mindset. This job is team-driven, so you need to work within a team and accomplish assigned tasks. You need to be able to maintain confidential information and work through challenging times. Above all, you need to support the fire department's mission and ensure you and your team are safe.
If you need to see what fire department is closest to your address:
Go to www.mnfirehire.com and put your address on the fire department map.
Find the contact information and reach out to them for a meeting.
Apply and see what happens. If you do not get a response right away, follow up with the Fire Chief.
Becoming a firefighter is exciting and can change your life. I have seen people become on-call firefighters and work their way into a full-time job doing it. In fact, I did the same thing.
If you need help becoming a Minnesota Firefighter, feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com. Good luck on your journey!