Becoming a firefighter takes dedication, skill and, courage.

Firefighters put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe from not just fires but from auto accidents, floods, and more.

However, to become a firefighter is an arduous task. Requiring a dedication to a lifetime of training and study. While the basic requirements may seem easy enough, only the most dedicated and strongest can become firefighters.

In the United States, there are a few basic requirements that are necessary to become a firefighter. First, an applicant should have a high school diploma or an equivalent GED and have a valid driver’s license. Applicants to the basic tests need to be at least eight-teen years of age and will often be hired on at no less of twenty-one years of age. Background checks and drug screenings are also common to almost every fire department. Yet, this is just the beginning of the lengthy application process for a prospective firefighter in the US.  

Once these basic requirements are met there are physical challenges that must be met, distance running, scaling flights of stairs, as well as being able to lift and carry at least 200 pounds are required for most fire departments. However, raw strength is not enough.

The CPAT

Applicants must also pass the Candidate Physical Ability Test or CPAT in which they face a variety of physical scenarios. In this test, candidates must prove they have acceptable levels of special awareness, high reading comprehension, mechanical reasoning, logical thinking, the ability to keenly observe, as well as memory retention.

Beyond these tests, certain jurisdictions may have even more requirements. It is not uncommon for firefighters to also undergo Emergency Medical Technician or EMT training. Since firefighters will often be called to situations were lives are on the line the basic medical training of an EMT could be necessary to sustain life until a victim could be transported to a hospital.

After the Basics

Once this initial training as been completed trainees will often train in the firehouse that they are assigned to. However, outside training in both the classroom as well as hands-on simulated courses is also common. Beyond training in dealing with house and multi-story building fires, these courses may also cover hazardous material handling and anti-arson techniques since these are situations that a firefighter may encounter in the course of their work.

For those that seek a higher level in the ranks of firefighters of the United States, there are four-year bachelor’s degree programs that can be completed. Degrees in forestry and environmental science will also help those that are looking to become a hot shot or forest firefighter.

Yet even for those that join the ranks of the brave firefighters in the USA, training is often far from over, even when they have the job. Ongoing training in EMT, Paramedic, and Firefighting courses is a lifelong pursuit.

Becoming a Firefighter in Mexico

For those who are looking to become a firefighter in Mexico the requirements are similar. Some areas require applicants to have at least a bachelor’s degree from a university or equivalent. Firefighter recruits also are expected to have a clean criminal history. Much like in the US firefighter recruits are expected to be physically fit and should be at least five and a half feet tall to meet the requirements. Beyond this, there are some fire departments where military service is also required to become a full-time firefighter.

In Mexico, many firefighters are expected to have completed at least a year of training before they become a full-time firefighter and will often complete more training before being accepted. However, this can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Firefighters in both the US and Mexico are some of the bravest people on the planet. Saving lives every day and making an impact on their communities that often go overlooked on the larger stage. Yet, without these quiet heroes, the world would be a very different place.

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