How to Get a Job as a Firefighter: Six Steps to Improve Your Chances
Getting a job as a firefighter can be a daunting task, because there are so many requirements involved with the career.
A firefighter should be able to educate the public about prevention of fire and provide services such as installing and inspecting smoke detectors.
In the course of the hiring process, including the interview, you will have to display the right skills and experience to get the employers to find you suitable for the job.
This post will walk you through six steps that get you adequately prepared to go for the job, with increased assurance that you will get it.
6 Steps to improve your chances of being hired as a firefighter:
1. Prepare for the Job
You need to prepare yourself adequately for the firefighter position so you can prove to be the best candidate in a very tough competition. The process of becoming a firefighter is a survival of the fittest kind of thing, so you need to get prepared in the best way you can.
You can be sure that for every 10 firefighting positions available, there are more than 2,000 people competing for it. If you don’t prove to be best you might get dumped along the line.
The more you prepare yourself, the better chance you stand to get into the career.
One area you need to prepare yourself is to develop the qualities and skills required to succeed as a firefighter.
This will help you to meet employers’ requirements and bring you closer to getting the job.
Firefighter Skills and Qualities Needed for the Job
Here are skills and qualities employers commonly look for when recruiting for a firefighter job position:
- Physical Strength and Stamina: Firefighters must be physically fit so as to be able to lift up heavy equipment and move debris at an emergency site. They also need the ability to stay longer periods of time at disaster scenes to save and treat victims.
- Communication Skills: Firefighters should be skillful when communicating conditions at an emergency scene to colleagues and to emergency response crews. They need to demonstrate clear and courteous communication within the firehouse and on the fire ground, and when intermingling with the public.
- Decision Making Skills: Making sudden and hard decisions in an emergency situation is one of the qualities needed to succeed on this job. Firefighters require the ability to make excellent decisions under pressure in order to rescue lives at most appropriate times.
- Courage: It can’t be so easy for firefighters to enter a burning house because of fear of getting burned. But with courage as what they need in such dangerous situations, they can bravely put fire out of a burning building without fear of anything, including other hazardous conditions of the profession that could be a threat.
- Compassion: Those in emergency situations require emotional support from firefighters such as EMT’s and paramedics. Firefighters need to be compassionate on those they’ve come to save, and should talk to them kindheartedly instead of using harsh words. Kind approach is an indication of love and care, and that’s what everybody requires, especially in a hazardous situation.
- Integrity: The public must have trust and confidence in firefighters, wholeheartedly entrusting their safety, privacy, personal property, the care of their loved ones, and also their own lives to them. Any misconduct of any sort from a firefighter might not only hurt the department but all firefighters. You need to understand how you represent your department as a firefighter, and how you carry their image about both on duty and off duty. Honesty should be your mark anywhere you are representing your department.
- Adaptability: Firefighters’ need to adapt to any situation at any given time. They should find a way to change with their environment and conquer different conditions. They also need to easily adapt to new people, new surroundings, changing job descriptions, and changing conditions under which they render their service.
- Self Sacrifice: Firefighters should be concerned with their own well being and that of others. Your primary purpose as a firefighter should be to serve and protect the community where you work, and not to always get paid and receive benefits. You will be a good fit for the firefighter job when you can make sacrifices in order to help or save others.
- Team Player: It is important for a firefighter to be a team player and understand the team concept. Others should rely on you always to do your job and do it efficaciously, so that they don’t break down because of your poor perform.
- Dedication: A dedicated firefighter is a hardworking dude that cannot settle for mediocrity within their team, but rather strive for excellence at all times no matter how tedious the job may be. As a firefighter, you should always be looking to learn and improve yourself in job-related ways. If you lack dedication and passion for your profession, you will lag behind and become hazardous to your crew and yourself.
2. Find Firefighting Jobs
There are many strategies you can use to find available positions when you are looking for firefighter jobs. You can contact your local service directly, check out department or contractors’ websites to get information you are looking for, or use online job boards to find work.
You can go on to check the ads in fire magazines, or call your nearest community college and find out who teaches their fire science or some sort of fire program. Enquire about job opportunities, reach them on phone and find out about signing up for courses.
The key to winning a position is to get equipped with skills, get good work references, and get top physical figure. Don’t give up your firefighting career, but be persistent and pursue your way through success.
3. Apply for the Job
The firefighting profession is very competitive and becoming a firefighter is not easy. It requires hard work, long hours of training, devotion and genuine desire to help others.
In this competitive career, you’ll be up against hundreds to thousands of applicants depending on the department.
When you have found a fire department that is accepting recruits, your first step should be to get an application.
You can have an application mailed to you, download one from the Internet, or pick one up by yourself.
Some departments offer free application forms for each round of recruitment that they carry out.
As you have your job application in hand, take some time to review it in detail before you start filling it in.
It’ll be expedient to have a copy of the job ad with you as well, in order to ensure that the information in your application prove you a good fit for the position. You can make a point of highlighting certain qualifications or certificates you have if the ad asks for them.
You need to carefully fill out the form, because the information you provide passes through a detailed background check.
You will need to provide your company name, address, phone number, your job title, supervisor’s name, and the salary or hourly rate you were paid. You need to also provide detailed information about the schools you have attended as they will be required. That’s just why you need to be sure of the information you provide on the application form.
Read your application form over and over again before submitting it, and ensure that you have listed the exact job title for the position you are applying for on the form. Some departments may be hiring for multiple positions at the same time, and you want to ensure that your application is considered for the most appropriate position.
Getting your resume ready in case you are asked to submit it is a way of providing the departments with more information about your background than what you can provide in the limited space on an application form. It makes sense to submit your resume alongside your application form, if the department you are applying to will permit that.
4. Prepare for Pre-employment Assessment Tests
Taking exams is also part of the recruitment process for a firefighter job and requires that you demonstrate the most useful skills that you have.
Here are some of the tests you may be required to take and pass to proceed in the hiring process:
- Pass the medical exam: Becoming a firefighter requires that you have agility, strength, coordination, and an overall high level of physical fitness. You must be free of any physical constraints and be in general good health.
- Pass the CPAT (Candidate Physical Ability Test): This pre-assessment test requires that you demonstrate your strength, endurance, speed, and agility. The test includes eight exercises that must be accomplished in 10 minutes to 20 seconds or less. And it is evaluated on a pass or fail basis only.
- Pass a written exam to test a variety of skills: The skills we are talking about are communication, judgment, problem solving and memory. Guides have been made available to help you study for the firefighter exams. Most departments rank the order of hiring by the exam scores. It is essential to have the best possible score.
5. Prepare for Interview – Major Important Firefighting Interview Questions and Answers
The essence of an interview is to evaluate your qualifications to determine if you’re a match for what the employer is looking for in the candidates they want to hire.
You will be asked questions to assess whether you would fit in with other members of the crew.
You can expect targeted questions to determine if you have the skills, interests, and personal qualities that match the specific job requirements.
Preparation is the key to any successful interview; part of which includes reviewing lists of frequently asked interview questions for firefighters.
Think of solid illustrations that will demonstrate how you have used the related skills and interpersonal qualities to your advantage in work roles, academic, volunteering; and be prepared to share them with the interviewer(s).
The best way to learn how to succeed in the interview is to become self-educated along the line. The more research you conduct the easier the questions become, and you can reflect on your own views and attitudes, and present the right answers.
Firefighter Interview Questions and Answers
Below are questions you might likely meet in a firefighter interview (and suggested answers to give):
- Why do you want to work as a firefighter?
It is a bad answer to say you like firefighting, but rather focus on your history with the industry, and if possible tell a story about it. Your answer should be directed to your appreciation and admiration for those who risk their lives to protect your community.
- Tell us about yourself
Tell the employer how energetic and polite you are, about your good communication and team work skills. If there was an instance you helped your co-workers, medically or mentally, tell the story and be as honest as you can be.
- What do you think of your former boss?
Don’t say negative things about your previous boss, because your new boss will assume you will say the same thing about them when you leave them tomorrow. You can tell the hiring manager how your former boss had been a nice person, or how he had taught you hard work and discipline, and some other traits of the job.
- Why are you leaving your current role?
State you answer like, “I’ve come a long way with my current role, but now I’m seeking a new challenge to widen my knowledge and experience, and gain new skills”. Don’t attribute your reason to the inability, carelessness, weakness or wickedness of your boss or the tiresomeness of your job.
- Where will you be in 5 years?
The interviewer wants to know that you’re ambitious and committed to a future with the department. Your answer should portray the zeal towards attaining a higher position or having a better understanding of fire and rescue. You can further declare how you would use your organizational skills and knowledge to benefit the people working with you, and those you are there to help.
- What’s your greatest weakness?
This question is a big opportunity to make something negative into positive, but you don’t want your answer to be predictable. Instead, try to use a true example of a weakness you have learned to conquer.
- What salary are you looking for?
Your answer might go like, “I would anticipate to be paid the proper rate for this role, based on my years of experience. My salary must not be the biggest ever, but should cover my expenses in this place where the cost of living is high.”
- Why should we hire you?
Your answer should have your qualifications in it, and highlight your unique qualities. Show your experience and how you have used it to the advantage of your department. Don’t say you should be hired because you are the best candidate for the role.”
- What motivates you?
Use this question as an opportunity to give the interviewer some insight about your character, and use examples where possible. In fact, what motivates you most should be the challenge you face in your work and you are up for it.
- How would your friends describe you?
How your friends describe you is relevant to the job you’re being interviewed for, and as specific as possible give your answer. If possible, include an example in your answer. When your friends say that you’re such a person that doesn’t give up on something until you get what you want, you can use that as a great personality trait to answer the question better.
6. Follow up
Writing a thank you letter to an interviewing panel is a smart strategic move and a polite gesture. Try to personalize your thank you note with key points that surfaced during the interview in order to sell yourself as the right person for the position.
Direct your letter to the selection committee and put it in the care of the person who scheduled the interview. Your salutation should look like this: “Dear Selection Committee”.
You should start your letter, which must be written the same day of your interview or the next day by thanking the committee members for their time. Declare your pleasure speaking with them about the position.
Personalize your letter with positive information that surfaced during the interview. You can mention specific panel members by name if you know their identity and the correct spelling of their names.
State your confidence that you are the right person for the job by highlighting what you could do for the department, and not how the department could help your own career.
Emphasize your skills and proficiency in a manner that illustrates you as an ideal match for the department’s requirements.
You can make reference to your professional achievements without repeating what’s on your resume.
Conclude your letter by saying that you look forward to hearing the panel’s decision. You might end up your letter by saying, “It is my hope to work with you and with reciprocated benefits”.
You have seen the various steps you can take to make it easier for you to get a job as a firefighter. You can start using the information to your advantage right away and improve your chances of getting into your dream career.