Unlike some areas, you don’t need any special certifications or license prior to applying for a position as a firefighter in Baltimore, Maryland. Baltimore County has 25 fire stations, and all firefighters must work one of the four round-the-clock shifts featured at all county fire stations. As of February 2011, the average starting salary for Baltimore firefighters is $34,102, and firefighters may retire after a minimum of 30 years of service. All Baltimore fire department employees must serve a two-year probationary period that consists of ongoing training and observation.
Applicants must be at least 18, possess a high school diploma or high school equivalency and have a Class C driver’s license--it doesn't have to be a Maryland driver’s license-- with a maximum of four points against your driving record to meet the minimum qualifications. You may apply online and check the status of your application at the Baltimore County website-- the fire department’s recruitment office does not give status updates over the phone. If you are chosen to proceed with the recruitment process, you will receive an examination notice via mail or email for the written exam portion of the application process.
The second step in the application process features a written exam that contains 100 multiple-choice questions covering topics ranging from grammar and vocabulary to Maryland driving laws. The department provides a comprehensive study guide for applicants to prepare for the written portion of the application. The department suggests that applicants arrive at the test-taking site at least 15 minutes early; late comers must take the test on another date. There is a 2½-hour time allotment to complete the examination, and test scores are sent by mail within four to six weeks after the test date. If you earn a satisfactory score on the written assessment, the fire department will mail or email a notice containing the location, date and time for the final portion of the recruitment process, the physical ability test.
Physical Ability Test
The final portion of the recruitment process, the physical ability test, gauges recruits' ability to complete common firefighter tasks, such as climbing ladders and carrying heavy equipment. The fire department hosts several practice tests prior to the actual physical agility test to help recruits increase their chance of passing. Each recruit must submit a physical ability test waiver completed by their doctor prior to taking the actual test and bring a copy of the completed and signed waiver on his scheduled test day. If an applicant fails to bring a completed and signed waiver to the physical ability assessment, he will no longer be eligible to participate in the assessment.
Fire Rescue Academy
After passing the physical ability test, you must complete the 18-week firefighter training program administered by the Fire Rescue Academy. Recruits study various topics, such as emergency vehicle operations and emergency response to terrorism, during the 18-week program prior to taking state and FRA written and practical assessments. After graduating from the academy and earning the required professional certificates from the state of Maryland and the FRA, recruits then gain probationary firefighter status.