How to Become a Firefighter in Pennsylvania

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Often considered heroes in their communities, firefighters have an important job. Battling fires, tending to the injured, rescuing people and their pets--these are all part and parcel of being a firefighter. Although slight variations might exist in the process of becoming a firefighter in Pennsylvania, depending on the particular county where you are attempting to train, many of the steps are the same.

  • Wait until you are at least 18 years of age before applying for this position.

  • Complete high school and receive a diploma or GED, a general equivalency diploma. It isn't necessary to attend college. However, some individuals have found it easier to have their applications accepted or to advance within the department if they have also attended a 2-year degree program for fire protection engineering, fire science or a related field.

  • Make sure that you are a resident of the city in which you are trying to become a firefighter. The time requirement varies by city, so it is important to check with the local fire department. Additionally, the applicant must remain a resident of the city in which he becomes employed as a firefighter. This is a common requirement with all cities.

  • Get a physical and make sure that you are in excellent physical health. This will be checked with a mandatory physical from the fire department to which you apply. Your vision must be at least 20/30 with or without corrective lenses.

  • Obtain certification as an emergency medical technician. Fires involve medical incidents, so this type of training is essential in becoming a firefighter. This is usually explained during any training sessions. Plus, it does not take that long to accomplish.

  • Get your driver's license if you don't already have one. In some cities, the applicant must possess a valid Class C Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Operator's License.

  • Find out about other requirements that might exist depending on the city or county in which you are applying. These can include, but are not limited to, passing a civil service examination, attending a training program or obtaining various certifications.

  • Undergo a probationary period as a firefighter. Anyone who is interested in becoming a firefighter in Pennsylvania should contact their local fire department for details.

Tips & Warnings

  • Attend a firefighter academy in your local area to gain the skills needed to become a successful firefighter.
  • Getting a 2-year degree in fire protection engineering, fire science or a related field is not required to become a firefighter in Pennsylvania. However, it will make it easier to obtain a first job in the field. It should also make it easier to move up in the ranks.
  • Volunteer with your local fire department to get your foot in the door. Not only will you gain valuable experience, you will also be one of the first people to learn of any job openings.
  • Hours of preparation are required. Therefore, do not go into this career choice unless you are serious about it.

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