Being a firefighter is something many dream of, but relatively few are able to successfully achieve their dream.  This is often because of the many demands and challenges involved in becoming a career firefighter – after all, it’s only fitting that a career so challenging should require a little commitment to get involved in in the first place.  If you’re ready to start the journey to a rewarding and fulfilling firefighting career, here are some steps you can take to increase your chances of success:

Build your skills:  A firefighter does more than just put out flames – firefighters are often the first responders on the scene, and may need to administer emergency medical care and other critical assistance.  Many fire departments require EMT certification, and even in those departments that don’t, having a certification is a valuable asset on your resume. 

Crack the books:  There’s more to preparing to be a firefighter than physical training – firefighters need to build a lot of knowledge, from construction principles to the science of fire, in order to understand and assess each situation and deal with it appropriately.  Your local community college likely offers courses that can help you build your knowledge.  While this is not generally required by departments, it can be an incredible addition to your resume that demonstrates your commitment to your career.  And perhaps even more importantly, it can help you be a better firefighter and enhance your ability to stay safe on the scene and protect those around you.  Take the firefighter test to expose yourself to the experience, and to get a feel for what you’ll need to know.  Even if you don’t pass, the exposure and practice can help you perform better next time.

Spend time at your local station:  Many stations are understaffed and have tight budgets, and could use the services of a hard working volunteer.  While you may not get the excitement of responding to an emergency, you can learn an incredible amount about your dream career, and about the culture of being a firefighter.  When you’re finally ready to become a full-fledged career firefighter, the station(s) that you volunteer at may be more inclined to hire you if they already know you and your commitment.

Live like a firefighter:  Becoming a firefighter involves an extensive background check.  Everything you do can affect your chances of becoming a firefighter.  Drive responsibly, behave responsibly, treat others with respect, don’t engage in illegal activities, don’t take drugs, and drink responsibly. 

Be patient – and persistent:  Becoming a firefighter is not an overnight process – in fact, it is a long and challenging series of preparation, patience and persistence.  After all, firefighting is not a career for everyone, so it only makes sense that the process is designed to ensure that only those who are truly suited for it are able to become firefighters.  By preparing ahead of time and putting in the time and commitment required, you’ll increase your odds of successfully fulfilling your dream of becoming a career firefighter.