Are you considering a career in firefighting? If so, you’re not alone! Firefighting is a gratifying and respected profession that plays a vital role in protecting lives and property. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, there were more than 1,041,200 firefighters in the United States as of 2020. 

If you’re interested in joining their ranks, you’ll need to undergo comprehensive training in fire suppression, hazardous materials response, and emergency medical services.

But where can you go to receive this training? There are several options available, depending on your location and career goals. This blog post will explore the different options, including technical schools and community colleges, fire academies, and online degree programs.

firefighters standing near the fire

Where can you get firefighter training?

The best path for you will depend on your specific goals and circumstances. Some firefighters complete training at a fire academy, while others may obtain training through a community college or vocational school program. 

Local Fire Departments 

One option for obtaining firefighter training is through your local fire department. Many fire departments offer training programs for new hires, which may include a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on training. These programs may cover topics such as fire science, firefighting tactics and strategies, building construction, hazardous materials awareness, and emergency medical procedures.

Fire Academy

Fire academies are specialized institutions that provide intensive training in firefighting techniques and procedures. These programs may be more intensive and focused than those offered at community colleges and other third-party agencies and may include hands-on training and simulations.

firefighters training at a fire academy

Community Colleges and Technical Schools 

Another option for obtaining firefighter training is through a community college or technical school program. These programs may offer associate or certificate degrees in fire science and may include a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on training.

Online Programs and Courses 

Several online programs and courses are also available for those interested in obtaining firefighter training. These may include certification courses, professional development events, seminars, or specialized training programs.

Professional Development Events and Seminars 

Professional organizations and associations, such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), often offer professional development events and seminars for firefighters. These events may cover a range of topics and can be a great way to stay up-to-date on best practices and new developments in the field.

Military Service 

Military service can also provide opportunities for firefighter training. Firefighting units are present in many military branches. Military firefighters often receive specialized training in firefighting techniques and emergency response.

Volunteer Organizations and Opportunities 

Volunteer organizations, such as the Volunteer Fire Department or the Citizen’s Fire Academy, may offer training and educational opportunities for those interested in becoming firefighters. These programs also include classroom instruction and hands-on training.

Apprenticeships With Experienced Firefighters 

Apprenticeships with experienced firefighters can also provide valuable training and experience for those interested in becoming firefighters. These programs may involve working alongside professional firefighters to learn the skills and techniques necessary to succeed.

Certification Exams for Becoming a Firefighter 

To become a firefighter, you may be required to pass certain certification exams. These exams may cover topics such as fire science, fire prevention, and emergency response and may be offered through professional organizations or your local fire department.

Firefighter using a fire hose during training

What should you expect from firefighter training?

This section will provide an overview of what you can expect from firefighter training, including the application process, coursework, and physical requirements.

The first step in becoming a firefighter is usually to complete an application. It includes submitting a high school diploma, taking aptitude tests, and undergoing a background check.

Firefighter training programs typically cover a range of topics. Some of the specific topics you can expect to encounter in a firefighter training program include:

  • Fire behavior and fire control

This topic covers how fires start, how they spread, and how to control and extinguish them effectively.

  • Fire safety

Fire safety involves measures and practices that are put in place to prevent fires from occurring. This topic includes educating people about fire prevention, installing smoke detectors and other fire safety equipment, and creating evacuation plans to ensure that everyone can safely exit a building in the event of a fire.

  • Emergency medical procedures

Firefighters are often the first responders to emergencies, so they need to be trained in basic medical procedures such as CPR and first aid.

  • Building construction and hazard identification

Firefighters need to understand the construction of buildings to navigate them during a fire and effectively identify potential hazards.

  • Incident command system

This standardized system for managing emergencies, including fires, allows for efficient communication and coordination among different agencies and individuals.

  • Personal protective equipment

Firefighters use specialized equipment to protect themselves while fighting fires and responding to emergencies, such as protective clothing and breathing apparatus.

firefighter combating a wildland fire

  • Wildland firefighting

Wildland firefighting involves the suppression of fires that occur in natural, outdoor environments such as forests, grasslands, and wilderness areas. Humans accidentally or intentionally start wildland fires, though lightning can also cause them. 

Fighting these fires can be challenging because they are often in remote locations. The terrain and weather conditions can also be difficult, with steep slopes, strong winds, and hot, dry weather all posing challenges to the firefighting efforts. 

Wildland firefighters use a variety of tactics to control and extinguish these fires, including setting up fire breaks, using water and fire retardants, and creating fire lines. They also work to protect homes, buildings, and other structures that may be threatened by fire.

It is also integral that firefighters are in good physical condition to perform their duties safely and effectively. Most firefighter training programs have physical fitness standards that students must meet to complete and enter the fire service. These standards may include requirements for strength, endurance, and cardiovascular fitness.

Upon successful completion of a fire training program, students may be eligible for various certifications. These certifications may be required for employment as a fire fighter or may be offered as additional professional development opportunities. Some certifications that may be available upon completion of a firefighter training program include:

  • Firefighter I and II Certifications
  • First responder certification
  • Emergency medical technician (EMT) certification
  • Hazardous materials awareness

Carefully research your options and choose a program that is accredited and reputable. Completing high-quality firefighter training will prepare you to embark on a rewarding career.