Fires can be incredibly destructive. They can happen at any time and cause hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in damage. This much damage can negatively impact the lives of those affected by the incident. As such, firefighters are engaged in a very necessary profession. But how does one get into a career of fighting fires in the interest of public safety? If you are a native of Pennsylvania considering a career in fire safety, this guide is for you.
In order to begin a career in fire safety, you need to meet certain minimum requirements. Interested applicants should be at least 18 years old and residents of the city in which they want to become a firefighter.
Interested applicants must also have a driver’s license that is valid in the state of Pennsylvania. Revoked, expired, or suspended licenses will not be accepted. This is to ensure road safety as you may be required to maneuver the fire safety vehicles.
A college degree is not necessary, but applicants must have graduated high school and are in possession of a high school diploma or a GED.
Finally, due to the nature of the job, applicants need to be medically cleared and physically fit to perform their duties in any conceivable weather condition.
Once you have met the necessary prerequisites, you may proceed with the application process for a career with the fire department. Firefighting is a public service thus the position is considered a government job. Interested applicants must first pass a civil service examination and meet the required score in order to be eligible for the next step
Applicants will then be interviewed and be subject to medical examinations and background investigations. If there are no issues that come up, applicants can then be cleared for training.
The applicant must then complete a program with any of the certified fire academies. The program will cover basic emergency medical services and firefighting techniques, Additional training and certification can be obtained when pursuing managerial or administrative positions.
Upon graduation from the fire academy, new recruits are assigned to a station and an engine and will be required to complete a probationary period. This can vary from the standard six months to a year of duty.
Volunteering in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is currently re-examining its requirements for those interested in joining its local fire department. These requirements are different depending on interest. If one is interested in pursuing a career in fire safety and public safety, the above process and requirements suffice.
For volunteers, it’s a much more complicated situation. Volunteer departments do not require mandatory training and are tasked with providing a certain amount of training to new recruits.
This approach was adopted due to the recruitment crisis in the state of Pennsylvania. In order to attract more people into joining their local fire department, the ease of application was adjusted to make requirements less demanding. However, this approach poses some major safety risks. To make up for this, training has been incentivized and made more accessible.