Is a career in firefighting for you? It’s a brave and rewarding profession, but it’s not for everyone.

One of the first questions people considering a firefighting career ask is how long firefighter training takes. The answer isn’t always simple, as it depends on various factors such as jurisdiction, prior experience, and education. If you’re on the fence about whether or not to pursue a career in firefighting, this guide will help you make your decision.

Firefighter Training

Firefighting is a  y demanding job that requires a great deal of training and equipment. Firefighters must be able to lift heavy equipment, climb tall ladders, and operate complex machinery. They should have a strong understanding of fire science and how fires spread to contain them quickly and safely.

There are two main types of firefighters: volunteer firefighters and paid or career firefighters. Volunteer firefighters are typically unpaid individuals who give their time to help protect their community. They may receive some training, but they usually do not have the same level of experience or expertise as paid firefighters.

Paid or career firefighters, on the other hand, are professionals who have undergone extensive training and have years of experience. They typically work for a fire department and are paid for their work. Both types of firefighters play an important role in keeping communities safe.

live fire training of firefighters extinguishing a fire from LPG

What does firefighter training include?

Most firefighter training programs include a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on training. Classroom instruction typically covers topics such as fire safety, building codes, hazardous materials, emergency medical care, and vehicle maintenance.

Hands-on training gives firefighters the opportunity to practice using fire hoses, ladders, and other equipment. Live fire training also allows them to experience what it’s like to fight a real fire in a controlled environment.

The typical fire academy classes include a variety of topics that provide firefighters with the knowledge and skills necessary to prevent, contain, and control fires. These classes focus on fire prevention techniques, the use of fire safety equipment, operational systems used to respond to fires and emergencies, and fire investigation techniques.

Students will learn how to identify potential fire hazards in various settings and operate various types of fire safety equipment, including sprinkler systems, smoke alarms, and other safety devices. Firefighters will also gain an understanding of proper hazard management practices when dealing with hazardous materials such as flammable liquids or explosives.

They will learn first aid procedures, medical response during emergencies, and how to properly inspect buildings for code compliance issues related to fire safety. All of these courses are essential for a firefighter’s professional development to ensure their ability to mitigate the negative impacts of fires on society effectively.

Many firefighters also take specialized courses in hazardous materials awareness, vehicle extraction, and wildfire firefighting health.

Physical fitness is essential for all firefighters; training often includes basic fitness drills such as running and lifting weights. These exercises build up strength and stamina, so that firefighters can wear their heavy gear in hot weather without compromising safety.

Why is firefighter training important?

Firefighter training is important because it ensures that firefighters can safely and effectively perform their duties. Firefighters need to be physically fit and have a thorough understanding of fire safety procedures. They also need to be able to work well under pressure and be able to think quickly to make split-second decisions.

How long is firefighter training?

Firefighter training is an extensive process, typically taking between three to twelve months to complete, depending on the fire department’s hiring standards.

The necessary training can vary depending on what type of firefighting role you are looking to pursue. Volunteering firefighter training usually takes a few weeks to complete before you are ready for deployment. But if you’re seeking a career in firefighting as a full-time professional, the time needed for training is typically much longer. Depending on the state or department, some situations may require up to one year of classroom instruction and hands-on field experience.

Why is firefighter training extensive?

There is a good reason for this. Firefighters must be ready to deal with a wide variety of emergencies, and this requires a broad range of skills.

Firefighters should be able to work safely in high-pressure situations. Thus, the training process is designed to allow recruits to develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in their future careers.

While it may take longer than some other professions, the investment of time and effort is essential for ensuring that firefighters are ready to meet the challenges they will face.

Firefighters during live fire training using a hose to put out a fire

Is it possible to shorten the training period?

Firefighter training can be lengthy and challenging, but there are ways to shorten the time required to complete the training. One way to do this is to ensure you pass all the tests in one take. This will ensure that you don’t have to delay the exams and can move on to the next stage of training more quickly.

Another way to speed up the process is to choose a training program that best suits your needs and interests. There are many different types of fire academy training programs available. Doing some research ahead of time can help you find the one that will help you become a firefighter as quickly as possible. Whatever method you choose, completing a fire academy training in a timely manner is possible with careful planning and effort.

Requirements of a fire department training program

A high school diploma or GED is the minimum educational requirement to join a fire department. Some aspiring firefighters supplement their education with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in Fire Science, Fire Technology, Emergency Management, or similar areas of study.


Applicants must pass criminal background checks and drug screenings to demonstrate that they are well-suited for the job. Once hired, firefighters will undergo extensive physical training programs to ensure they are up to handling intense situations effectively.

Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT)

The Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) is a widely used standard of evaluation for many fire departments. This test measures a job applicant’s physical capabilities for a firefighter role. Depending on the department, CPAT should be completed prior to registering as an applicant. Although other departments require that they must pass this evaluation during or after their fire academy studies.

Given the distinct physical demands in the fire service, CPAT testing is essential for evaluating whether a candidate meets the standards. It is necessary for working in such a hazardous environment where split second decisions can mean life or death for those involved.

Special requirements

Aspiring firefighters must obtain the necessary emergency medical technician certification, EMT certification, or paramedic training to work as emergency medical professionals in fire departments. Many fire stations require a basic EMT certificate to apply, so it would be ideal to begin with EMT training, as it provides the best starting point for those seeking a firefighter job.

Firefighters in training, rescuing a dummy

Photo by Jay Heike on Unsplash

Advanced formal education, such as completing a fire science program, may also be beneficial. Doing so can significantly improve your chances of securing employment at a fire department and potentially provide you with more career opportunities beyond traditional firefighting roles.

If you’re interested in becoming a firefighter, the length of training can vary widely. Depending on the jurisdiction, prior experience, and education level, some people may be able to complete training in as little as several months. Other academy programs may take up to two years or more. 

Due to the unique and important nature of this career path, continuing education throughout your firefighting career is essential for safety and competency. While it can be a long process with much hard work, a firefighting career could bring you rewarding experiences that no other job could ever offer.