How to Become a Fire Fighter
By Eric Hammer
So you want to become a fire fighter? Maybe you've always
been fascinated with the big red trucks or you were inspired
to become a fire fighter by the heroism of someone who saved
your life or the life of a loved from a burning building. Whatever
the reason that you want to do this, there is a great deal to
think about before you actually go ahead and apply for a job.
First of all, realize that being a firefighter is a dangerous
and dirty job. There is a very real possibility that you could
die or be seriously injured on the job. The salary, while generally
decent is nothing special and while you do gain a certain amount
of respect for being such a noble person as to want to become
a firefighter, you will also be dealing with lots of downsides.
For example, as a firefighter, you'll often be the one who
has to comfort those who have just traumatically lost a loved
one or at the very least, everything they owned in the world.
You'll see a lot of crying and a lot of grief. You'll often find
yourself having to restrain civilians from running back into
a burning building to rescue property or someone who is trapped.
In short, this is a very, very stressful job and one which isn't
going to be pretty or easy.
Think of being a firefighter as something akin to becoming
a Catholic priest. People who do that job give up a tremendous
amount for their faith (for example, they can't marry) and do
it because they feel a calling. Becoming a firefighter is much
the same - you really need to feel like it's your calling rather
than just something where it seems that it would be a good job
How Much Can You Make?
According to Payscale.com, the average salary for a firefighter
ranges from as little as $31,701 to as much as $56,331 per year.
As noted above, it's a living, but not a great living.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
Remember that if you want to become a firefighter you'll need
to be in excellent physical condition. Firefighters regularly
have to race up the stairs of a burning building in an attempt
to rescue people trapped b y the flames.
You'll also often be required to carry large amounts of additional
equipment with you, sometimes weighing as much as 50-60Lbs and
you'll need to be able to handle a high pressure fire hose, pumping
hundreds of gallons of water per minute, making it difficult
to handle (think of it like your garden hose on full blast times
fifty and you may have an idea of what it's like).
It also possible to work as a volunteer firefighter if you
prefer to do this on an occasional basis rather than as a full
time job, however be aware that even though you are a volunteer,
you'll be expected to pull your weight in the team and you often
may be required to pay money for the privilege of volunteering.
Qualifications / Requirements
Each city or state has their own rules regarding what you
need in order to become a fire fighter. Typically you'll need
at least your high school diploma or GED as a basic requirement.
Beyond that, you'll need to be in excellent physical shape in
order to pass the exam. You'll also likely be required to pass
a written exam and go through a background check.
Start by picking up a copy of your local civil service newspaper
and looking for information about when the next fire fighter
exam will take place. Then, visit the library and obtain the
necessary forms to apply. Drop by your local firehouse and talk
to the duty officer about what the job is like and ask him or
her (it's usually a him - in spite of equal hiring rules, most
firefighters today are still men) more about what it's like and
what the working conditions are.
If you want to get your feet wet (metaphorically as well as
physically - after all, firefighters handle lots of water), visit
the local fire house and ask about becoming a volunteer. Be sure
to ask for details, such as required numbers of hours and whether
you have to pay for anything (often, you have to pay membership
dues and or pay for your uniform).
Check out these helpful resources to learn more about how
to become a fire fighter:
Don McNea Fire School - A little heavy on the
ads, but there is some good information here as well for those
who want to become a fire fighter.