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Where Do I Start To Become A Future Firefighter?

(Photo Credits: Mark Tabay, Fresno City College, Public Information Officer).

As Fire Science Instructors and Fire Technology Directors, we are frequently asked by perspective fire academy candidates, "what fire academy should I attend?"  Our response is usually a series of questions for the prospective future firefighter.  Where do you reside?  Where is your community located?  Where do you want to serve as a firefighter?  Where does your family live?  Where will you have a stable support system established?

There are several State Fire Marshal accredited academies in California.  Our suggestion is finding a location that can support you during one of the hardest and most challenging college semesters you will ever experience.  Having a support system is quintessential and vital in having a successful experience during this grueling process of becoming a firefighter. Build a network of people who support your journey and finding those that can mentor you along the way can be the difference between success and failure. Start by being open and upfront with your family about the challenges you will face and what you need from them to finish. The level of commitment required for the fire academy isn't something that you can take for granted. The fire academy will consume your whole life for at least six months, and you will have no free time.

The level of preparation before the academy is just as important as during the academy.  You have to be in top physical condition before you embark on this journey. Many academies require candidates to pass a physical fitness assessment or hold a current candidate physical ability test (CPAT) card as a pre-requisite to starting the academy. To prepare, try various fitness activates such as running, high-intensity training, and functional fitness programs. Many basic fire academies include a run of 1.5 miles, pushups, sit-ups, pull-ups, or a combination of fire ground movements as a standard entry assessment. The start of your day during the academy is as early as 4:30 AM and somedays you might leave the drill grounds at approximately 7:30 PM in the evening. Both of us can recall studying for exams till midnight and only receiving four hours of sleep per night. The weekends are not days off; however, they are full days of continuous self-improvement and preparation for future firefighter skills examinations.

 

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The Future Firefighter: Fire Engineering Blog Talk Radio Show with Dr. Harry Carter

Live from FDIC 2018: Day Five

The Value of Education in the Fire Service

 

“I have achieved a great deal in life through education.”– Dr. Harry R. Carter

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Leading Throughout Probation and Beyond in the Fire Service: Part I

 

From our first day in the fire service, we have the opportunity to be a leader and lead throughout probation and well beyond, until long after our retirement.  This article is not the perfect recipe or golden ticket to pass probation.  It takes more than a list of rules to be successful in passing probation.  Ultimately, the responsibility of passing the probationary period rests firmly on the probationary firefighters shoulders.

On our first day, as we embark upon this prized career in the fire service, it is necessary to show up and arrive early to the fire station.  Early is comprised of at least 60 minutes prior to the start of our shift.  Several tasks are essential and required to be completed before we can officially start the day on “Big Red” in the Jumpseat.  Don’t be late in this profession!  You will be left behind at the station if you are late, and more importantly, you don’t get a 2nd chance for a 1st impression!

Someone has to raise the American flag.   This is an opportunity for the probationary firefighter to take responsibility of raising Old Glory for the community we have the honor to serve.  It takes leadership from the probationary firefighter to raise the flag.  No one is going to issue this order because this is our responsibility.  It is also our responsibility to lower the flag and properly fold the flag in the evening.  Learn proper flag etiquette and take leadership in learning how to honor the American flag.

The next task that the probationary firefighter must perform is thoroughly checking their department issued personnel protective equipment (PPE).  No one is going to check our gear for us in this profession.  This is our responsibility to make sure our gear is in order and that we have all the required important pieces of our safety gear ensemble.  Preparation is just one of the key ingredients to the recipe required for successfully passing probation.  Thoroughly check all the components of our SCBA; including air cylinder, mask and the required batteries for operation.  Also check the flashlights and make sure the batteries are in proper working order.  Make sure to have at least two working flashlights at all times.  By thoroughly checking our safety gear and equipment on “Big Red,” this demonstrates leadership from the probationary firefighter level.  As a probationary firefighter it is our responsibility to make sure all firefighter related tools are accounted for and are in working order on the apparatus.

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