Being a firefighter in the US Army is not a path many consider when they think of military service. Few realize that there are various opportunities in the US Army for those who want to serve their country and engage in firefighting activities. From tackling large-scale forest fires to emergency response scenarios, the US Army offers numerous career pathways for individuals who wish to become firefighters.

firefighters preparing to extinguish a plane fire

Working together to combat the flames. Army Sgt. Lorton, Brogdon, and Lt. Purcell team up for annual aircraft rescue and firefighting training on Pope Army Airfield.

Army Firefighter

The US Army has long been known as one of the most diverse and extensive branches of the United States military. With more than 200 specialties, from medical services and infantry to intelligence gathering and logistics, there’s something for everyone in the US Army. For those interested in becoming firefighters, there are several career paths available within the ranks.

The most popular option is enlisting as an active duty soldier and completing Basic Combat Training (BCT). Upon completing BCT, soldiers can then apply to become members of one of the Army’s Firefighter units. They can also complete additional training such as Advanced Individual Training (AIT) or Officer Candidate School (OCS) to pursue a commission as an army officer. All three pathways require physical fitness tests, education courses, specialized training, and aptitude tests before applicants can begin actively serving as firefighters in the US Army.

Throughout each branch’s journey into becoming a firefighter, there is ample opportunity for professional growth and advancement. The rigorous training the US Army requires helps ensure that all its soldiers have received adequate preparation for their roles as firefighters. In addition to gaining valuable experience on-the-job, soldiers may also receive benefits such as increased pay grade levels or bonuses after achieving certain milestones during their service.

firefighters using a water hose to extinguish a fire

US Army Fire Containment Drill

Job Responsibilities of a Firefighter in the US Army

Army firefighters are responsible for a wide range of duties, including rescue and firefighting operations, emergency response duties, and fire protection operations. They may be called upon to respond to emergencies involving everything from fires and hazardous materials incidents to vehicle emergencies and may be required to operate specialized emergency rescue vehicles.

Rescue and Firefighting Operations

As a firefighter in the US Army, you may be called upon to provide disaster relief operations in war zones. It could involve responding to emergencies caused by conflicts or natural disasters, such as fires, explosions, and hazardous materials incidents. You would need to be able to work effectively in challenging and potentially dangerous environments.

Emergency response duties

Army firefighters are often the first responders to emergencies and accidents and provide initial medical care and support to those in need. They may also assist with disaster relief efforts, such as during natural disasters or other emergencies.


firefighters in training, how to use a fire hose

Training for the rescue mission. U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Taylor instructs Afghan National Police on using a fire hose during a training session.

Fire protection operations

Army firefighters work to prevent fires from occurring by inspecting and maintaining fire prevention and protection systems, such as sprinkler systems and smoke detectors. They also conduct drills and exercises to ensure that military personnel are prepared to respond to fires.

firefighters extinguishing a wildland fire

Braving the smoke and flames. Firefighters Albert Culanding and Todd Pridgen tackle a blaze at Fort Pickett.

Wildfire Suppression and Management

In addition to responding to emergencies in war zones, you may also be responsible for suppressing and managing wildfires. It could involve working on a wildfire crew. You will use specialized equipment to contain and extinguish fires and collaborate with other agencies to coordinate response efforts.

As a firefighter in the US Army, you may be involved in search and rescue operations. You will locate and retrieve personnel and equipment using specialized equipment and techniques, such as rescue dogs and thermal imaging cameras, to find missing individuals in challenging environments.

Qualifications to Become a Firefighter in the US Army

To become a firefighter in the US Army, there are several qualifications that you will need to meet. These include:

Mandatory Physical Fitness Standards

As a firefighter, you must be in good physical condition. The US Army has specific fitness requirements that you will need to meet to qualify for this role.

Education Requirements

To become a US Army firefighter, you must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent certification or degree.

Security Clearance Requirements

You must pass background checks to qualify for this role.

Technical Knowledge Requirements

You must understand fire behavior and be familiar with structural fires. You must be able to operate firefighting equipment and vehicles.

Other Characteristics Required

As a US Army firefighter, you must have strong leadership skills and be loyal to your country. You must also cope with stressful situations and work well under pressure.

firefighters battling a fire during training

Controlling the flames. U.S. Army firefighters battle a fire in the burnhouse during Warrior Exercise (WAREX) at Fort McCoy.


To become a firefighter in the US Army, you will first need to meet the necessary requirements and qualifications. You need to have a high school diploma or equivalent and pass a physical fitness test. You will also need to complete basic training, which includes firefighting and emergency response training. If you want to become an army firefighter, you may also want to consider enrolling in a fire science program or completing other related training.

soldiers sitting in front of a fire academy

U.S. Army Soldiers undergo aircraft rescue firefighting training at the South Carolina Fire Academy.

Once you have completed basic training, you will then need to attend the Defense Fire Academy, which is located at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas. Here, you will receive advanced training in firefighting and emergency response, as well as instruction in hazardous materials handling and other specialized skills.

After completing the Defense Fire Academy, you will be ready to begin your career as a military firefighter. You may be assigned to a fire department at a military base or may be deployed to locations around the world as part of your duties. Military firefighters often respond to fires and other emergencies on military bases, as well as to provide support to civilian fire departments during natural disasters or other emergencies.

In addition to fighting fires, military firefighters may also perform other emergency response duties, such as responding to hazardous materials incidents or vehicle emergencies. They may also be required to maintain and repair firefighting equipment and vehicles and inspect buildings and equipment for fire hazards.