A career in the fire service is both challenging and rewarding. Fire suppression is only one of a variety of duties performed by Firefighters. In fact, approximately 85 percent of all fire department responses are to emergency medical calls. Other typical assignments may include fire prevention education, commercial and residential fire inspections, community outreach and services, post-fire salvage and cleanup, and equipment maintenance.
Basic protective gear for a structural firefighter battling building and similar blazes is about 45 pounds. Structural firefighters also typically carry an ax, a radio and a flashlight, and possibly a thermal imaging camera for a total gear weight ranging from 66 pounds to 77 pounds. A significant amount of time is spent inspecting, cleaning, and maintaining this equipment and training in its use. A Firefighter is usually a member of a 3-member team that lives and works together in close quarters throughout the shift. Living at the fire station entails rigorous housekeeping, apparatus and equipment maintenance, cooking, cleaning and yard maintenance. Teams are composed of individuals from diverse genders and backgrounds and each member is heavily dependent on fellow members to successfully perform the duties of the position.
Firefighting is 24-hour work done in shifts that vary by jurisdiction. Calls for assistance can and do come at any hour. Many Firefighters contend that the best way to ensure that a call comes in is to prepare a meal or begin a good night's sleep! A typical Firefighter with Montclair works a 48-hour shift with time off-duty in between shifts. On occasion there may be mandatory overtime. A typical Firefighter may earn between $4,050 and $5,000 per month. Other benefits include excellent medical, dental, and retirement plans.
- Minimum age of 18
- Valid driver's license
- Clean driving record
- Education equivalent to a high school graduation
- Visual acuity of 20/70 un-corrected in each eye (correctable to 20/25 in both eyes) with normal range depth perception and the ability to identify primary colors
- Hearing within normal range
- Weight if proportion to height
A Firefighter must have good judgment, good communication skills, demonstrated mechanical aptitude, basic math skills, and the ability to understand and learn firefighting material. In addition, a Firefighter must be able to face hazardous, life-threatening incidents and have coping skills for managing unpleasant and difficult situations. Firefighters must have excellent interpersonal skills and be able to work well under stressful situations. At the same time, they must be team players able to get along with a variety of people in close quarters. The ability to follow orders and work in a paramilitary organization is also important. Firefighting is physically demanding and personnel in the fire service must be in excellent physical condition.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW TO PREPARE
Becoming a Firefighter often takes a great deal of long-term preparation, self motivation, and commitment. While there is no guarantee that any of the following activities will result in your selection as an entry-level Firefighter, experience has shown that participation in these types of activities has tended to distinguish outstanding candidates and documents an applicant's interest in the position.
- Education and Training
- Fire aid courses
- Advanced Fire Aid Certificate
- Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation
- Fire service related courses
- Basic English grammar and reading comprehension
- Basic math
- Emergency Medical Technician I Certification
- Certified Paramedic
- Fire service technology courses
- Fire Science AA Degree
- Physical agility training
- Firefighter academy
- Fire aid courses
- Physical Fitness
- Have and maintain a physical fitness program. While no one course of physical fitness will suit every individual, a regimen that stresses endurance and total body strength can assist in developing a level of physical preparedness that is needed to succeed in physical agility performance testing.
- Community Involvement
- Volunteer fire service work
- Reserve programs
- Auxiliary programs
- Office of Emergency Services
- California Conservation Corps
- Volunteer community services
- Community Organizations
- Scout troop - Explorer programs
- Synagogue/Mosque/Temple/Church programs
- Volunteer fire service work
Other important Activities
Visit Fire Stations - this is an excellent opportunity for interested individuals to talk to personnel and discuss the pros and the cons of the profession and determine whether or not the day-to-day routine(s) match your own skills and interests.
Develop a resume to include all Fire Service related information so it is easily available when the application period opens. Visit the Jobs page to view current openings.