How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter

Watch the four-part video series that tackles the key steps to becoming a firefighter:

Becoming a firefighter is no easy task. It requires hard work, long hours of training, dedication and a sincere desire to help others.

The firefighting career field is very competitive, too. You’ll be up against hundreds, possibly thousands of applicants depending on the department. How will you stand out and where do you start? Download our how to become a firefighter infographic.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what you should (and should not) do as you prepare to join the fire service.

How to become a volunteer firefighter

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10 more must-do things to become a firefighter

Becoming a firefighter: 10 must-do things

1. Meet basic requirements to become a firefighter

In order to become a firefighter, you will need a valid driver’s license and meet the age requirement of 18 years old. For those younger than 18, you can look into limited involvement as a junior firefighter. There also will likely be a maximum age, usually between 28 and 35 years old, depending on the department you’re applying to.

2. Meet (and exceed) education requirements

At the very minimum, you’ll need to obtain a high school diploma or GED. Many firefighters earn a degree in fire science to advance their career. It’s also wise to become an EMT. Having both a fire and EMS background will improve your odds of being hired. Some departments might even require an EMT certification; larger departments may require a paramedic’s license.

3. Get in good physical condition

Becoming a firefighter requires passing a physical ability test. The CPAT events are stair climb, hose drag, equipment carry, ladder raise and extension, forcible entry, search, rescue, ceiling breach and pull. Prepare yourself for the physical nature of the job as well as the demands of the test.

4. Stay out of trouble

At one point in your life, you’ve probably done something you’re not proud of. How you’ve acted to rectify your mistakes will be important when applying to become a firefighter. FireRescue1 columnist Mike Pertz, who founded a website aimed at helping others become firefighters, recently wrote an article on this very subject.

If you are asked about your past record during an interview, do not lie. Instead, take ownership for your mistakes. Explain to the hiring panel how you’ve changed and what you’ve done to change. Also, be up front about your driving record – include dates, locations and outcomes of tickets and accidents.

5. Keep your social media nose clean

If you use Facebook or other social media platforms, be mindful of what you post, repost, comment on and like. Expect all potential employers to scan your social media presence. If there’s embarrassing, immature, risqué or otherwise inappropriate posts on your pages, remove them. Ask your friends to remove any such posts involving you from their pages. In some cases, it makes sense to close out your accounts.

6. Prove your fiscal responsibility

This is often overlooked, but the required background check covers credit score. Bad credit will hurt you. Be disciplined about improving your score if need be.

7. Get involved in your community

Working in public safety is all about community service. Volunteering your time for a great cause is one way to prove you’re ready to serve your community. And it doesn’t matter if it’s fire-related or non-fire related. There’s a lot of great opportunities out there for you to make a difference. The American Red Cross or Habitat for Humanity are two excellent options.

8. Pass the written exam

Study, study, study. And, when in doubt, study some more. The written exam consists of multiple-choice questions and is divided into categories. Check out these test-taking basics to give yourself the best chance at passing with flying colors.

9. Prepare for a psychological evaluation

You can’t study for this one. This evaluation will look at your mental and emotional stability to withstand the stresses associated with firefighting.

10. Graduate a fire academy

Getting your state entry-level firefighter certifications, such as Firefighter I and II, is a great move. You’ll still need to attend a department’s academy once hired, but this gives you a leg up and helps you learn the book and practical skills of the job. Joining a volunteer fire department is one way to get into an academy.

11. Ace the interview

Why do you want to be a firefighter? Cliché, we know. But you better prepare for this question. Here are four additional questions you’ll be sure to get in a firefighter interview – how you answer will influence a panel’s hiring decision. This is your time to shine and stand out.

The requirements to become a firefighter can seem daunting. Stay up to date on firefighter employment and hiring information with these resources:

How to become a volunteer firefighter

Infographic: How to become a firefighter

How will you stand out against other applicants? Download this how to become a firefighter infographic as a starting point. Once you're ready to start preparing for the written exam, download our written exam checklist to keep yourself on track.

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About the author

Sarah Calams, who previously served as associate editor of FireRescue1 and Fire Chief, is the senior associate editor of and In addition to her regular editing duties, Sarah delves deep into the people and issues that make up the public safety industry to bring insights and lessons learned to first responders everywhere.

Sarah graduated with a bachelor's degree in news/editorial journalism at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Have a story idea you'd like to discuss? Send Sarah an email or reach out on LinkedIn.

Seven out of ten firefighters and emergency responders are volunteers. If you have the heart to serve your community, you have everything we need.


How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter

What it Takes to Volunteer

Being a volunteer firefighter is not about what you look like, what degree you have, or where you come from. It is about one thing: heart. Do you have what it takes to serve your community?

How to become a volunteer firefighter

Experience Volunteer Firefighting

Being a volunteer firefighter is about a lot more than just putting out fires. It’s an opportunity to learn cutting edge skills that prepare you to help members of your community when they need it most.

Stay Informed

If you want to serve your community in ways few can but don’t see the right opportunity currently listed, sign up for our email list. We’ll send you notification of new opportunities posted for your area. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Baltimore County Volunteer Firemen’s Association

Baltimore County Volunteer Firefighter's Association

T o serve, promote, advocate and represent the interests of all volunteer fire, rescue, rehabilitation and emergency medical services companies in Baltimore County. We provide coordinated representation to Baltimore County and Maryland State Government to assist in all aspects of member company needs and activities, including management, administration, budget, operations, training, standards and logistics. We strive to provide excellence in service to our communities while saving taxpayer dollars by valuing our members, promoting positive leadership and dedicating ourselves to volunteerism.

The Baltimore County Volunteer Firefighter's Association

Equitable Funding – Why are BCoFD Volunteer contributions ignored ?

The Baltimore County Volunteer Fireman’s Association (BCVFA) provides for the coordinated representation of the Volunteer Fire, Rescue, and EMS Companies serving the citizens of Baltimore County and all those that travel through and visit.

The 29 Volunteer Fire, Rescue, and EMS Companies in Baltimore County dedicated hundreds of thousands of man hours, serving the citizens of Baltimore County during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Many volunteers receiving ZERO compensation risked their lives and the lives of their family’s serving every day alongside our career brothers and sisters.

The BCVFA is disappointed with Executive Olszewski and the lack of BCVFA volunteer contributions recognition. Equitable funding from the American Rescue Plan Act could have helped bolster Volunteerism within Baltimore County. Funding allocated towards increasing the EMS Attended Rates, and more help with EMS Unit purchases, recruitment and retention, an overdue increase to the Length of Service Awards Program, and more support for the Volunteer Turnout Gear program would all represent an acknowledgement of the endless contributions the citizen volunteers of the BCVFA provide every day.

The Volunteers save Baltimore County approximately $60M each year.

Response to a request from Fire Department Presidents

"Paid or Volunteer, It’s What We Do, I Wish You Really Knew”

Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor delivered a message to the congregation of the First Baptist Church of Glenarden. His message centered around the tragic events of an early morning house fire where four family members perished; no smoke alarm was found in the house.

His message was well received not only on that Sunday but also by the thousands that have watched the video . Many have asked for the words to the poem that was read, "It's What We Do."

The Philadelphia Fire Department (PFD) last recruited firefighters between June 28, 2021 and October 1, 2021. If you want to be notified when the next application period opens, fill out a job interest form.

You can find out more in our FAQs about applying.

Recruitment period

There are several steps to becoming a firefighter. At each step of the process, some people are removed from consideration.

1. A civil service examination. High scorers on the exam will be invited to the next phase.

2. Department interviews, criminal investigations, background investigations, and a medical examination.

3. A nine-month academic, practical, and physical training program at the Philadelphia Fire Academy. At the Academy, cadets learn basic firefighting and emergency medical services.

Once a person has completed training, they are sworn in as a firefighter and assigned to an engine or ladder company. Each new firefighter must complete a six-month probationary period.

Salary and benefits

Pay increases as a firefighter’s career progresses, and opportunities for advancement become available.


The yearly salary for a firefighter recruit in the Fire Academy is $56,227. After graduating the Academy as a firefighter, you receive a pay increase. There are scheduled increases in pay to the present maximum of $78,092 a year.

Overtime is paid at the level of time and a half. There are excellent opportunities for promotion, which include a raise in salary. Firefighters are paid biweekly. Salary does not include your annual uniform allowance or holiday time.


  • Healthcare coverage
  • Retirement pension
  • Deferred compensation (457b plan)
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Paid vacation
  • Paid training
  • Career advancement

Employment requirements


Due to a residency requirement enacted in 2020, you must have established residence in the City one year prior to appointment. Non-residents will not be eligible for job opportunities and will not be contacted as job opportunities arise until one year from the date that they establish residency. For additional information on residency, please contact the Office of Human Resources at [email protected]


High School graduate or GED

Physical and medical requirements

Ability to physically perform the duties and work in the environmental conditions required of the position.


All candidates must possess a valid Pennsylvania driver’s license prior to appointment as a firefighter recruit. Anyone with a suspended or revoked license will not pass the background investigation. Any applicant who possesses outstanding fees for traffic violations in the City of Philadelphia must make payment arrangements with the Municipal Court’s Traffic Division.

Inspired by the devastating fire season of 1994, Vicki Minor the Founder of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation decided after the loss of 14 courageous firefighters on the South Canyon fire in Colorado, that she would start a campaign to raise money for the families of those who died. A memorial t-shirt was created, produced and sold across the Nation. At the end of this successful fundraiser, Vicki sent all the money she had raised to a foundation on the East Coast for distribution to the families. Two years later she found out that NOT ONE of those families received any of the money that she worked so hard to raise for them. From her frustration over the situation and not wanting this to happen to anyone else ever again, she created the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Vicki’s main focus at that time was to be able to provide financial support to families of those who died or were injured in the line of the of duty while fighting wildland fires. Vicki’s vision of helping the injured and assisting the families of the fallen was and still is her calling. Since its conception, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation provides a variety of programs in the direct support of wildland firefighters and their families.

Every year wildland firefighters die while protecting our homes, our communities and our great outdoors. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation truly came up from the ashes of fire, dirt and tragedy. We are primarily funded by firefighters for firefighters, there are no agency or jurisdictional boundaries here. Through the darkness of death and injury, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation exists not only because of Vicki’s tenacity but also because of you, the boots on the ground.

May your compassion continue to spread like wildfire.

We Stand With You

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation’s main focus is to help the families of firefighters killed in the line of duty and to assist injured firefighters and their families. We honor and acknowledge the past, present and future members of the wildland firefighting community and partner with private and interagency organizations to bring recognition to wildland firefighters.

We help maintain and grow the national monument established for our fallen. We operate a financial fund which provides critical assistance to the families of fallen and injured firefighters. We partner with private and interagency organizations to educate the public about wildland fires and promote excellence and safety in firefighting. We present program information and in some instances, onsite crisis support, to government and private fire agencies and other organizations.

All of our courses are eligible for IFSAC Seals except for Incident Safety Officer.

How to become a volunteer firefighter

Keep our community, safe, and secure when you join Fire and EMT training courses at Fire In Texas. From learning the basics of rope to navigating your way through a burning building, our training covers it all.

How to become a volunteer firefighter

Develop a keen eye for what happens in a fire when you take part in our Fire/ Arson Investigator or Inspector Certification Program. Whether you want to become an inspector or an arson specialist, we have the perfect course waiting for you.

How to become a volunteer firefighter

Use your experiences as a firefighter to take on the task of teaching the future generations when you sign up for our Fire Instructor I, II, and/or III Certification Training, Fire Officer I, II and/or ISO Certification Training and Driver Operator/Pumper Certification Training Courses. An Instructor has the option for teaching each discipline he or she is certified in.

Fire In Texas would love to assist you in obtaining your goal of becoming eligible to work in the exciting field of career firefighting and Emergency Medical Services.

It is your option to attend either the traditional twelve-week firefighter training classroom format where the student attends class Monday through Friday for a twelve week period. During this time the student receives instruction in the various subjects associated with firefighting. In addition the required hands-on skills are practiced until mastered by each individual. The tuition for this course is $2,750. Housing is not included in this tuition, however, if the student requires housing, you can contract with a local volunteer fire department where the student may house and ride out with the volunteer department as an observer, while they attend the fire academy. For more information on the onsite Fire and EMT Academy click here.

If your work schedule, family life, or other issues prevent you from attending a twelve-week on site course, perhaps the online fire academy format of training will better fit your needs. In this type of training the student enrolls in the course and has twelve weeks to work through the self-paced online presentations, practice tests, assessment tests, and associated course work from their home. At the conclusion of the twelve week self-paced online portion of training the student attends a fourteen (14) day hands-on skills’ session in which the online material is reviewed and all of the skills related to being a firefighters are practiced until mastered. On the final day of the session, the Texas Commission on Fire Protection State Examination will be administered. The tuition for this course is $2,500. Housing is included in the tuition. For more information on the online Fire and EMT Academy click here.

Regardless of which format fits your needs, if you are coming from out-of-state or Canada, our tuition does include our staff members picking you up at DFW airport or Love Field and transporting you to our facility in Sulphur Springs, Texas (See pickup and drop schedule here). Of course at the conclusion of your training we will also see that you are returned to the airport for your return flight.

In addition to the firefighter certification training previously discussed, we also offer Online EMT training and the Traditional onsite classroom format. Tuition for Online EMT $1000.00 and Onsite EMT $1040.00 that does not include housing, books or Uniforms.

If you already have your firefighter certification and are looking to obtain additional Texas Commission on Fire Protection certifications, we also offer Driver/Operator, Fire Investigator, Fire Inspector, Fire Officer I and II, ISO as well as Fire Instructor I, II, and III.

Back in 1902, Provident began serving its community’s insurance needs as an independent insurance agency. In 1928, Provident began serving volunteer fire departments with our first blanket Accident & Health insurance policy to protect the financial livelihood of volunteer firefighters. In 1962, we further expanded this coverage for volunteer firefighters to include Heart & Illness related coverage and have continued over the years to be a leader in developing insurance products and benefits. Today we provide paid and volunteer firefighters and emergency medical responders with insurance that includes Property & Casualty coverages as well as our Accident & Health, 24-Hour Accidental Death & Dismemberment, Group Term Life, Critical Illness, and a First Responder Assistance Program.

We’ve extended our expertise and experience to also offer benefit plans and coverages to participant groups, including volunteer groups, youth and adult amateur sports organizations, boards of trustees, elected officials and municipal workers, camps/clinics and conferences, youth and adult activities groups, day care centers, and associations and affinity groups.

In addition, we provide Transportation Benefits for trucking companies and truckers that include Contract Liability, Employers Liability, and Occupational Accident Insurance.

Give us a call at (855) 201-8880 to find out more about our solutions and how we can help address the various risks in the communities we serve.

Looking for the perfect firefighter gift at a great deal? You’re in the right place. We offer a wide selection of gifting options for every firefighter, ems or military personnel. We have explained each collection to help you navigate to the right section.

Firefighter Accessories – Looking for a small token of appreciate or care for your firefighter, shop this collection for key chains, bottle opens, wallets, survival bracelets and more.

Blankets – when the Fall season is among us, our firefighter blankets sell fast. This collection offers gifts that will have your firefighter comfortable at home or the station. Many firefighters will bring their own blankets to the station for the shift, so a blanket is an excellent and practical gift options. We have also included firefighter towels within this section, also great for the station or hanging out at the pool.

Thin Red Line – All our firefighter thin red line products under one collection makes shopping easy. Thin Red Line is a strong statement of fire fighter pride and support for the brothers who risk their lives, and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Challenge Coins – Firefighter, IAFF, EMS and military challenge coins are a highly sought after product among men and women. Whether your firefighter collects, trades, takes them to the bar with fellow firefighters, or sees their coin as a token of good luck- challenge coins is a great way to give a meaningful gift to your firefighter. Picking the right coin for you is a matter of preference, we have prayer, IAFF, and other designs to choose from. We offer bronze, gold, silver, and enamel styles.

Volunteer, Retired, Irish, EMS or Family – These collections are popular searched for gifts, which is why we separated them out into their own collections. All the products available are contained under each gift collections to make shopping easy. Under the Family Gift collection, you will find Firefighter wife, mom, son, daughter, grandson, and granddaughter. You will also find our popular Pet Alert Decal to inform the first responders of the animals inside.

How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter Has Been in Business for 20+ Years

Our Fire Store offers a Huge Selection of T-Shirts, Decals, Watches, Gear Bags and More. We offer You, the Fire Fighter or First Responder, the very best in Fire and EMS related Gifts and Gear. Our Popular Thin Red Line Collection is One of the Largest Available. We are also Officially Licensed by the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), Why should that matter to you? Buying Officially Licensed Union products ensures that the IAFF union’s mission and quality standards are upheld for the Brotherhood to continue assisting Professional Firefighters across America. Also, we donate a percentage of proceeds of each IAFF product to the IAFF Burn Center.

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How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter

How to become a volunteer firefighter

Recruitment and retention have become buzzwords as of late in the volunteer fire communities, with everyone scratching their head as to how to increase staffing numbers. As we continue to see a decline in the number of volunteer firefighters throughout the United States (down 100,000-plus since 2015), departments have had to work with fewer members and even lowered physical and training standards for those members. Grant money for recruitment, toll-free phone numbers for information to join and gift cards for retention are three of the ideas among many that are being employed to attempt to increase membership. Amid all of these efforts, I find myself asking the question, are we losing focus on more important areas because we are concentrating on numbers, namely quality?

Do the numbers add up?

When speaking with peers in the volunteer community, the regular metric that typically is discussed is total number of members. We rarely discuss individual firefighter statistics, staff numbers per incident, certification levels, or training above and beyond initial certification.

If you ask the general question, is it better to have 10 firefighters on scene of a structure fire or 20, the most common response that you will receive obviously is 20. However, we can’t paint the issue with such a broad stroke. It’s a fact that more is better—when the more are competent and able. However, when we lower the standards for department membership and/or hire members who aren’t cognitively or physically able to do the task(s) that’s required, it’s obvious that quality should be more important than quantity.

In the quest to put more bodies in seats, volunteer departments across the country are losing sight of quality. By operating in this way, we are affecting emergency operations negatively, possibly more severely than having fewer firefighters on scene.

Minimums are subjective

It’s obvious that there is a minimum number of firefighters that’s needed on scene to accomplish operational goals, but to come up with that minimum number, we must recognize that the number is different for every department, and we must know the abilities of the firefighters who are assigned to accomplish the tasks at hand.

As we look at a common task, such as throwing a ladder, I hear regularly in my area that we always should have two people when throwing a 24-foot extension ladder because of safety concerns. Is it great to utilize two firefighters if we have the staffing? Absolutely. Should it be completely acceptable to use one? Yes, because it isn’t unsafe, assuming that the firefighter is trained properly and physically able.

So, this brings up a good point: Is it about having large numbers, or should we just make sure that we adhere to a higher standard for hiring and for developing and implementing training requirements?

Meeting the minimums

Currently, Ohio has a certification level that doesn’t meet NFPA 1001: Standard for Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications. The state’s certification is specifically for volunteer firefighters, and it’s based on some NFPA 1001 standards, but it doesn’t meet them in their entirety. (Certification only takes 36 hours to complete.)

To explain, let me begin by saying that many departments utilize this certification as a starting point but require their members to proceed on to Firefighter I—and even, in some cases, Firefighter II—to maintain membership. That said, many departments are comfortable with 36 hours being the only certification that their members achieve. The belief that this is all that their members need is based on three thoughts. First, “It’s the way that it always has been” is a common premise that’s offered up for just about any question that’s asked. Second, the state of Ohio doesn’t mandate anything higher. Third, departments are afraid that requiring new hires—or even longtime members—to dedicate any more of their own time to go to class will turn away potential members. As much as I understand the concerns of the third response, we must hold ourselves to a higher level and not always be comfortable with meeting the minimums.

Once when I was teaching in a “36 hour” course, I had a student voice concerns that the ladder practical, which consisted of a single person removing a ladder from the apparatus, moving the ladder to a structure and placing it according to instructions, was a ridiculous skill test and that it wasn’t safe. He believed that it always should utilize two firefighters. He went on to say that skills such as this only harm a department’s capability to gain members, because the skills are too difficult to pass. After explaining why it was beneficial to be able to complete this skill alone, I asked him a question: If people can’t put up a ladder on their own, do you feel like you can rely on them to back you up, particularly if something goes wrong?

Hard truths

Sometimes, we must ask ourselves the difficult questions. We must recognize and accept that not everyone is cut out to be a firefighter and, although our membership numbers might be low, numbers don’t mean much if members aren’t properly trained, competent and able to do the required tasks. Focusing on making sure that the members who we have and hire are properly trained and prepared is more important than total numbers on paper.

Setting standards purposely low so that everyone can pass doesn’t do anyone any favors, including those individuals who wouldn’t pass if the bar were set higher. We are setting up our departments and their members for failure if we fail to recognize the need for standards enforcement.


What’s the answer? Increasing membership and having staffing numbers that meet national standards obviously is the end goal for every department, and we never should stray from that. That said, we can’t lose sight of the goal of having all members trained and able to complete all of the tasks that are needed for successful fireground operations.

As volunteer departments, we must remember that just because our departments aren’t staffed with “professional” firefighters doesn’t mean that our departments shouldn’t operate with the utmost professionalism. It shouldn’t mean that they don’t strive to adhere to professional standards. We must set higher standards for required certifications, and we must provide better in-house trainings that are real-world and relevant and are developed utilizing national standards.

We must do a better job with our hiring processes, making sure that the candidates are able to meet the physical and cognitive requirements of the position.

We must utilize automatic and mutual-aid agreements to help with staffing shortfalls, and we can’t permit calling for mutual aid to be a blow to our ego but, rather, that it’s what’s best for not only department operations but for the public’s welfare.

We must be sure that we fill the seats with able, well-trained firefighters and not just warm bodies.

Fire inspectors play an indispensable role in protecting life and property from catastrophic fires before they begin. They work with city code enforcement agencies, fire departments and other organizations that work with the construction trades and government to ensure that building safety codes are met or exceeded.

Some 73 percent of all fire inspectors work for local (city, county or rural) fire departments, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The remainder of fire inspection professionals take jobs with state or federal agencies, insurance firms and damage assessment companies, or with law offices engaged in property law and damage litigations.

There are many pathways into the profession and employers don’t all require candidates to hold college degrees. However, the BLS says the nine percent in new fire inspector jobs created in the 2020-2020 decade will favor applicants with firefighting experience and post-secondary fire science training.

Step One Get Involved in Professional Firefighting

As a fire inspector, you’ll need to know state and federal building codes and fire safety regulations. But first, you’ll need to know the conditions under which fires originate and spread. You’ll need to know about firefighting tactics and equipment as well as the materials and designs that go into residential, commercial and industrial structures. A great way to get started is to join a firefighting agency or department.

As a volunteer or new firefighter hire, you’ll be required to undergo fire science basic training at a regional, state, or national firefighting academy. While working for the fire department you can enroll in training for basic emergency medical technician or firefighter positions to learn how to prevent or fight blazes in cities or in forested lands. You’ll learn about fire suppression and alarm systems.

Step Two Sign Up for Fire Inspector Training

Many employers, the BLS says, will prefer candidates with some fire protection engineering, building construction, architecture, or related two-year training. More than 55 percent of all fire inspectors have some post-secondary education. Start soon. Many programs are offered as intensives or built around your ongoing firefighting commitment. States enact their own safety, fire prevention and building codes. You’ll need to learn the strategies behind the codes, how to inspect for compliance, and how to follow up with legal action if the property is substandard.

Students may also take computer software, CAD, and report writing courses. Candidate training requirements vary by state. There are one year, two-year and full four-year fire science degree programs that can lead to certification and employment. That’s why it’s essential to ask all your prospective local or state employers the best way how to become a fire inspector with their agency.

Certificate programs may be completed in a year or less and combine hands-on research and field experience with classroom (or online) lectures. Your program may also include training in hazardous materials handling, investigation procedures, structure audits, installation and maintenance codes for fire alarm and suppression systems, and special problems germane to high-density or high-rise structures, manufacturing facilities, public schools and hospitals, or materials storage buildings.

You should know how to read architectural drawings and blueprints, conduct fire exit drills, inspect operational capabilities for fire sprinkler or alarm systems, and test newly installed or repaired firefighting equipment (static and portable).

Finish your training? Now it’s time to change from firefighter to fire inspector status. Move up within your current firefighting organization or go on the job market with your advanced training and pertinent experience.

Step Three Earn Certifications and Seek Promotions

Fire inspectors who are employed by public service organizations and law enforcement agencies typically advance in rank through a step-by-step ladder based on education and practical experience. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, for example, fire inspectors or code compliance officers proceed through a four-tier structure, each rating based on detailed knowledge of codes and procedures. With each stage, the inspector gains additional responsibility/accountability in prosecution and enforcement, risk assessment, staff management, training new staff and management.

You should take advanced training to prepare for a nationally recognized fire inspection certification exam. The National Association of Fire Investigators (NAFI) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) have established standards and offer qualification examinations for fire inspectors. Certification levels include:

  • Certified Fire Inspector
  • Certified Fire Inspector, II
  • Certified Fire Plan Examiner
  • Certified Building Inspector
  • Certified Building Plans Examiner
  • Certified Fire Protection Specialist

Testing covers topics including occupancy classification, fire equipment installation codes, standpipes and hydrants, fire accelerators, explosives, geological and weather issues. Ongoing firefighting coursework is not only recommended, for most fire organizations require it. You’ll also need refresher courses and technology updates to stay current with fire and building technology. Certifications require testing for renewals.

The median annual 2011 wage was $53,330. More than 14,000 fire inspectors and investigators work around the nation. Fire inspector training can prepare you to take your place among them.

How to become a volunteer firefighter

Christopher Williams is still in disbelief that he’s going to be an astronaut.

“It’s still almost a little bit surreal, something that you’ve dreamed about your whole life and now getting the opportunity to do, I feel so lucky and honored to have the chance to do this and to be part of the team,” he told MyMCM.

NASA announced its latest astronauts on Dec. 6 with Williams and nine other candidates being selected from a field of more than 12,000 applicants, according to a press release from NASA. Since the original Mercury Seven space mission in 1959, there have only been 360 astronauts selected by NASA, including Williams’ cohort.

“Becoming an astronaut has been sort of a dream of mine ever since I was a little kid,” Williams said. “I have a distinct memory of a little kid version of me drawing a picture of the space shuttle in elementary school, it’s something I’ve always been curious about and has inspired me since I was a kid. This idea that you can use science and technology to really explore and do what we think is impossible.”

Growing up in Montgomery County

Williams grew up in Potomac, MD, and graduated from Montgomery Blair High School in 2001. His parents, Roger Williams and Ginger Macomber, still live in Montgomery County. While in high school, Williams worked at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in D.C., according to his Astronaut Candidate Profile.

“I owe a lot to Montgomery County for getting me to where I am today,” he said. “The school system, going to [Montgomery] Blair and having the incredible opportunities that I had there, that set me up for this. Without that, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Williams credits the resources and mentors he had growing up in the county with encouraging his dream to be a scientist.

“As a kid, it was hard to believe that I could be a scientist, that I could be an engineer. Having mentors that reach[ed] out and help[ed] me along that path was just amazing. In Montgomery County, you have so many resources to try to achieve that,” he explained.

After high school, Williams went on to get a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in physics. He took a gap year before getting his Ph.D. from MIT to work at U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, as well volunteered with the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department.

“Another thing that I thought was pretty neat about Montgomery County is that there are these opportunities to give back in ways that you might not think about,” he said. “Being a volunteer EMT or firefighter was not something I had ever really been exposed to…I learned a ton of really interesting skills in addition to being able to give back to the community.”

Becoming an Astronaut

Williams originally applied in March of 2020 to become an astronaut, but the process was delayed due to the pandemic. Williams said he traveled to Houston to be interviewed multiple times and got a chance to meet the other interviewees before he was officially selected.

“I was working from home one day, just dropped my daughter off at daycare, and was between two meetings, and I was getting a call from a Texas number. I said, ‘Well, I think the calls are coming soon, so I should probably answer this one.’ It was the Chief of the Astronaut Office on the line, inviting me to come to join the team. And I was just absolutely floored.”

According to NASA, at the time of his selection as an astronaut candidate, Williams was an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, where he completed his residency training, and a medical physicist in the Radiation Oncology Department at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He was also the lead physicist for the Institute’s MR-guided adaptive radiation therapy program, with research focusing on developing image guidance techniques for cancer treatments.

“I’m really excited to try to bring my background and use that to help further the mission in any way that I can,” Williams said. “We’re all going to get trained to do what we need to do as astronauts, but we all bring slightly different perspectives and backgrounds to contribute to the team in a way that would be bigger than just taking people from the same cookie-cutter background.”

Newly selected astronaut candidates will report for duty in January 2022 and complete two years of initial astronaut training. According to NASA, training falls into five main categories: “operating and maintaining the International Space Station’s complex systems, training for spacewalks, developing complex robotics skills, safely operating a T-38 training jet, and Russian language skills.”

Williams hopes to take the skills he learns training to be an astronaut and use them in missions to the International Space Station, and optimistically, the moon.

“I’m really excited to learn of all of those and then to put those into practice,” Williams said.” I think, hopefully, in my career, we will continue to go to the International Space Station and continue to do awesome research in low Earth orbit. We’re also going back to the moon, and we’re going back to the moon in a sustainable way. I think it’d be really special to be a part of those missions to go back to the moon and continue to do science and explore there.”

Advice for Future Astronauts

William’s advice to kids who want to follow in his footsteps is to reach out to their communities and not to be shy about what they are passionate about.

“If you’re a kid that’s interested in science or being an astronaut, there are going to be people out there that can help you to achieve those dreams. Don’t be shy about letting people know what you’re passionate and excited about and want to do, he said. “I think Montgomery County was a great place to grow up where I was able to really follow my passion and I hope that other people are able to do that as well.”

Williams also assured all of the astronaut ice cream lovers out there that trying authentic space ice cream was on the top of his to-do list once he gets to space.

Grantville Fire Company is in need of new members! If you have reached the age of 16, recently retired or just want to become more active in your community and have some extra time, We NEED you!

Our current membership is comprised of ordinary people just like you. Our staff includes retirees, police officers, sheriff deputies, construction workers, truck drivers, college professors, teachers, nurses, business owners along with college and high school students. Whatever your occupation, we’re sure you will fit right in.


Junior Firefighter Program

Our Junior Program is ideal for individuals who are ages 16 & 17, who maintain a “C” average in school and a willingness to train in the field of firefighting. Pennsylvania State Law restricts the scope of participation of minors. However, there are many tasks, training and duties performed by Jr. Firefighters.


Grantville Volunteer Fire Company is a fully volunteer run department. We rely solely on the support of taxpayers and the charitable contributions of the community. Your generous donations provide life saving equipment and training for our fire fighters as well as the maintenance and acquisition of life saving equipment to provide emergency services to the community.

About Us

It is the privilege for the members of the Grantville Volunteer Fire Company, Pennsylvania, as to provide fire, rescue and emergency medical services to East Hanover Township, Dauphin County and surrounding communities. We have been serving with 100% volunteer professionalism since our foundation was made in 1948. East Hanover Township, Dauphin County, is located approximately 12 miles east of the city of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's State Capital. The township is surrounded on the west by West Hanover and Middle Paxton Townships, on the south by South Hanover and Derry (Hershey) Townships; on the east by East Hanover Township, Lebanon County and on the north by Rush Township. East Hanover is the third largest township in Dauphin County. It is 39.1 square miles, approximately 10 miles long and 4 miles wide with population hovering around 5,800. It has two villages which are Grantville and Shellsville. The township is made up of several sites which we protect such as the Blue Mountain, (part of the Appalachian Range,) Interstate 81, historical sites such as the Manada Furnace, commercial establishments such as the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, historic churches, East Hanover Township Elementary School and others. The northern part of the township is primarily state owned and contains State Game Land #211 and the Fort Indiantown Gap Military Facility. The department currently operates an engine, rescue engine, pumper tanker, attack truck, 5-Ton brush truck, utility unit, traffic unit and a duty officer vehicle. All this with around 30 emergency personnel. It is our honor to serve this community, and the people that visit where we call our home.

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