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What school subjects do you need to take to become a firefighter?


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From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you


5 answers

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Gina’s Answer

Hello-- This is how my close friend got started:
Volunteer locally
Get CPR Training.
Get a Fire Science degree-- locate post-secondary fire training at a college or academy
Lastly-- take the exams and apply for work
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Nirvana’s Answer

There are some schools which offer a degree in something called Fire Science. The more firefighters understand about how fires work, the better they will be able to fight them!
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Prashanth’s Answer

Hi Ken,

I hope you’re doing well & wish that you have a great week ahead.

As I see that you are from Illinois, am sharing some information that I found online pertaining specifically to Illinois

The process for becoming a firefighter in Illinois varies depending on the local area in which you plan to work. As opposed to some other occupations, there are no official national or statewide regulations for working as a firefighter. Instead, each fire department determines the requirements for their new recruits. The specific written tests, physical fitness exams, and other expectations you need to meet depend on the city, county, or town you wish to serve.

Now, what type of education or Classes Do you Need to Become a Firefighter?

There is a lot of confusing information, or misinformation about what classes a person
should take to work toward becoming a firefighter. The real answer is it really depends
on what area in the state you live in. In more rural areas of the state where there are
predominately volunteer departments you may have a better chance of getting on that
department without any classes or certifications. They do this to help recruitment, and in
turn will train the personnel in-house to achieve skills & certifications. But most paid
departments will not hire someone, or even allow them to test for their department,
without certain minimum required certifications or licenses. What these requirements are
will vary from department to department.

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) training: EMS is a large part of the Illinois fire
service. If you have ambition to become a career firefighter but have no interest in
becoming an emergency medical technician (EMT-B) or paramedic then you need to
reconsider. Just about all paid departments in Illinois, especially in the northern Illinois
area, require their firefighters to also be paramedics. There are very few career fire
departments in the entire state that will hire firefighters only without them being
paramedics. In fact most part-time departments, contract services, and even some POC
and volunteer departments require their members to be paramedics, or at a minimum,
EMT’s. You cannot become a paramedic until you are first an EMT.

Firefighter II or Basic Operations Firefighter certification: The basic entry-level
type of firefighter training in Illinois is called Basic Operations Firefighter (BOF). You
may hear many people refer to this certification as “Firefighter II” because that is what it
was previously called, and the name changed to BOF very recently. The majority of
paid fire departments in the state requires personnel to already be certified as a FFII /
BOF before they will even let them test or apply for their department. Most other
departments require it as well.

Fire Science Degree: Many people believe that they have the best chance to get hired on
a fire department if they get their degree in Fire Science, which is usually an Associates
level degree at many community colleges. This in fact is not true. While some
departments will give some preference points for applicants who have some college
credits, or may even require a small amount of random college credits to even apply, the
fact is that an Associates degree will not give you a large advantage when testing for
departments. Fire Science degrees are far more beneficial to existing veteran firefighters
who are taking promotional exams within their own department because those
promotional exams will give preference points for those who have degrees, or may even
require the degree to take the exam.

Some community colleges are beneficial, for example, to attend EMT classes if they offer
them. Those are usually offered within their Fire Science program. Also, as stated
above, you cannot apply for most full-time departments unless you are 21 years old, so if
you are under that age attending Fire Science courses at a community college may be
beneficial because it will give you some exposure to the educational aspects of the fire
service and earn you valuable higher education credits while you are waiting to reach the
age of 21.
Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT): CPAT is a certification that some full-time
departments require the applicant to have before they can test for that department. It is a
physical ability test you take through a third party institution that will put the applicant
through the test, which is comprised of very physically challenging obstacle course-type
skills for time. When the applicant successfully completes the testing they will be issued
a certification card that has an expiration date. The departments that require the
applicants to have CPAT will require proof when applying. When the card expires the
applicant can go through the testing again to recertify as needed. The cost of CPAT is
usually the responsibility of the individual. As stated above, only a few dozen
departments in Illinois require CPAT testing, but more and more departments are
beginning to require it. If you plan on testing for full-time departments you should obtain
CPAT certification well before a department begins the application process because
obtaining CPAT may take a few weeks, and you don’t want to miss an application
deadline simply because you didn’t get CPAT in time. Have it ahead of time. The
Romeoville Fire Academy does not offer CPAT certification at this time, but may in the

As stated above different departments have different requirements to get on their
department. When you decide that you want to start getting the required education so
you can start applying for fire departments, your best bet is that if you strive to eventually
become a career firefighter you should obtain the certifications and education that most
paid departments in the state requires, which is Firefighter II / Basic Operations
Firefighter, EMT-B, and then paramedic.


Hope this answers your query
Good Luck 😊

Prashanth TM
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Wendy’s Answer

Hi Ken,

Sometimes the best answer is found by going right to the source! One thing you could consider is visiting your local Fire Department and talking with them. It's likely they all took different paths to get to where you want to go and could be super helpful to you.

Best of luck, hope that helps!
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Alexander’s Answer

Hi Ken,

Hope you doing well. I will recommend serching for jobs near the area you want, to see what they require. Not all places have the same requirements. For example I see that you are currently located in Illinois. A job in Peoria, IL states Prefer applicants with "Fire Science college courses or degree in Fire Science or related field, and emergency medical technician (EMT) certification"

Here is the link I took the requirement from if you want to check the other requirements:,23_KE24,38.htm?jl=3526732018&utm_campaign=google_jobs_apply&utm_source=google_jobs_apply&utm_medium=organic

Hope I was able to help!
Best regards,