Fires have constantly threatened humanity and the surrounding environment. They are life-threatening and catastrophic. As a result of global warming, wildfires break the records every year. That is just an example to prove firefighting is a significant field in today’s world. Firefighters are critical community members, and their work goes far beyond just extinguishing fires. Helping in rescuing, dealing with medical emergencies, and offering safety to the affected ones, are also part of their job responsibilities. Hence, they are dealing with much more than what is directly understood by the term firefighting. Becoming a firefighter does not only risk the person but also challenges him every day. However, at the end of all the chaos, the results are gratifying.
One has to go through heavy training at a firefighting school after going through multiple steps in the admission process. However, even before this, one should prepare at home and analyze if they are willing to challenge. It is not only hard long hours of work, but it also requires dedication to help others. If you consider taking this up as a career, talking to a fire department in the vicinity will be enlightening. After all this, there are specific steps to enroll in a fire academy to begin the training process.
1. Age and Fitness
There is a specific age requirement to be able to qualify in a firefighting school. Anyone between 18 to 45 years of age can provide to be fit for the rigorous training. Younger people usually are in the running for junior positions. Along with this, some physical traits are essential for the career. Physical fitness is a primary factor to determine the future here. The stamina needed to carry out the assigned duties for long hours takes time to build. Another challenge is maintaining the same level of fitness throughout the years. Mental health also goes hand in hand with age and physical fitness.
2. Education Requirements
The minimum education requirement to enroll in a fire academy is either a high school degree or something equivalent. Without this, meeting the eligibility criteria is almost impossible, depending on the area you are considering.
3. Application and Interview Process
Most firefighting schools have their application forms online or can help in person by diligently filling them out and rechecking any mistakes to ensure a rigorous application. The next step is to prepare for an interview at the academy to proceed with the admission process. The interview panel notes a couple of characteristics of the applicant. Mainly the person’s qualifications, fitness, and the first impression they leave on the interview panel.
4. Written Test
Once the application is complete, a written exam is a subsequent step. Although the test is on similar subjects, it varies from region to region. Some of these are reading, understanding maps, logic, current affairs, and special relations. It is important to note that all these do not relate to fires in any way. The outcomes of some tests are either pass or fail. However, an academy could grade it, too, depending on the area. Mostly, the schools decide the cut-off score before conducting the test. To help prepare well, academies also provide their prospective students with study guides.
5. Physical fitness test
The next hurdle is a physical fitness test that is mandatory to qualify in a firefighting school. It includes going through rigorous exercises, stair climbing, forced entry, rescue, carrying material, and ladder raise, to name a few.
6. Psychological examination
It is probably the only part for which the applicants can do minimal or no preparation. Fire schools evaluate the applicant’s physical and mental fitness to check if the person can take on firefighting pressure.
7. Background checking
Backgrounds of applicants and the kind of community members they are matters a huge deal in a fire school. Fundamentally, applicants do not have a criminal record or how they have rectified their mistake if any. Fire schools look at this in great detail. It is binding that no applicants lie about their records in interviews, even if it relates to driving. They sift through the credit card history thoroughly too.
In addition to this, they examine the social media of applicants too. The posts they have made and the ones they react with are equally important. Removing inappropriate posts and interactions is a good idea to maintain great admission chances to a fire academy.
Even if it is not related to fires, and community work will prove advantageous to the applicant. Since this career involves public safety, it goes hand in hand with community service. Volunteering in various causes is a great way to prove that the applicant is serious about his community.
8. Important details about the fire academy
After all the steps to admission, it is essential to note some details about firefighting school.
This program is approximately 14 weeks long and requires training for almost 600 hours. Even if students have taken admission at different times of the year, nearly 48 hours are needed weekly. However, some fire schools have designed programs for working people. That makes the total time long, but the school smartly schedules the training sessions. Either the weekend or in the night shift. 2- and 4-year degrees in fire sciences are also offered in some colleges to prepare students for various jobs.
There are two models in firefighting programs: classroom training and the other is physical one. In the classroom, students learn mechanics and other technical aspects of firefighting. On the other hand, in physical activity, students are challenged to deal with live fires. Fire school trains them to think clearly and take calculated measures in challenging situations. The challenge is to apply the classroom learnings to real-life situations. Practice drills also give a thorough understanding of the equipment used. They are taught the dynamics of multi-layered clothing for themselves.
For anyone wanting to enter the field of firefighting, this challenging process is inevitable. However, the reward only comes with great hard work. This field is not just exciting and demanding, but the results are immensely satisfying. People who enjoy working with different challenges will also find firefighting thrilling. Firefighters are an essential and well-celebrated part of our community.