Firefighters save lives, but they hold one of the most hazardous occupations available. Because of the potential for loss of life or injury associated with fighting fires, firefighters must complete extensive training and, in many states, must be certified in order to work as full-time professionals in this field. In the state of Florida, career firefighters must meet the standards established by the Bureau of Fire Standards and Training.
Firefighters in the state of Florida must be able to meet all of the general requirements for certification. Aspiring firefighters must be at least 18 years old and able to pass a physical examination designed to test their suitability for working in this physically demanding fields. Fire departments within the individual Florida communities set their own education standards, but a high school diploma or GED is the typical minimum requirement. Applicants for certification must also be able to pass a criminal background check.
In the state of Florida, aspiring firefighters must take the state's Firefighter Minimum Standards Course in preparation for certification. The course is divided into two parts. The "Firefighter I" coursework comprises 206 of the required 398 hours of total training necessary to certification. Applicants who pass this portion of the course can move on to obtain "Firefighter II" certification, which is necessary to work as a career firefighter in Florida. The second level requires the completion of 192 hours of certification-specific coursework.
Certification from another state can apply toward certification as a firefighter in Florida so long as the state deems the certification as being on the same level as the Florida certification. This "equivalency" certification can be obtained by first submitting an application that allows state officials to evaluate the quality of the previously obtained certification. Documentation of previous training must also be submitted. Once the state has deemed the certification as having the equivalency of standards set in Florida, the applicant can take an equivalency certification exam to verify his knowledge of the firefighting field.
A written and practical certification examination is required of all firefighters seeking the career firefighter designation. Applicants who are unable to pass the examination must wait at least six months before being able to retake it. Florida firefighters must also have training and obtain training as an emergency medical technician prior to obtaining certification as a firefighter. The certification exam requires the test-taker to pass three major areas of study: firefighter safety, training, and state standards.