Firefighters today not only suppress structure and wildland fires, but they perform a wide variety of rescue operations. These can range from vehicle extrication and water rescue to managing disasters like earthquakes, floods and acts of terrorism. Firefighters also respond to all types of medical emergencies on a daily basis. Many firefighters have Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification and others have gone on to achieve paramedic certification. Besides rescue operations, firefighters can be found in related areas such as fire prevention education and hazardous materials response.
Each department maintains its own testing policy, but there are many similarities. You should be prepared for a written test, physical ability test, oral interview, medical examination and a background investigation.
Firefighters are well-respected in their communities and across the nation. In most departments, firefighters are well-compensated, with good pay and excellent benefits. Perhaps most importantly, being a firefighter allows someone to put her or his skill and courage to work in service to the public. For many, firefighting is not just a job … it’s a calling. It’s hard to find a firefighter that doesn’t love the job.
To be a successful firefighter, a candidate must be both physically and mentally fit, and must have the ability to function as a team player. A good knowledge of physics, math, and vocational skills is also helpful. In most cases, departments require new hires to be certified Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT-I). And all candidates must pass a physical ability test, such as the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT). Many departments in California require CPAT certification before they will even accept your application.
For over 25 years, the California Fire Fighter Joint Apprenticeship Committee (CFFJAC) has remained steadfast in its mission to ensure that California’s first responders receive the highest quality of education and training. With participation from more than 90 percent of paid, professional fire departments throughout California, and nearly 7,000 active apprentices, the CFFJAC is nationally acclaimed as a model apprenticeship program. It has set the standard for cooperative labor management fire service training.