How to Become a Firefighter in Washington – Top Fire Training Academies

Firefighters are some of the most emotionally and physically fit people on the planet. From being able to make snappy real-time decisions to summoning great strength and courage to help people in need, firefighters need to be in an overall tip-top condition at all times. Thus, because of the high demands of this job, it becomes all the more critical that a rigorous selection process is created to select the recruits who are optimal to fill in these shoes. And if you are thinking of becoming a firefighter in Washington, then we have all the information that you need to get started.

Firefighter Requirements in Washington

Before you can even apply for the selection process, there are a couple of requirements that you need to meet.

  1. You must be at least 18 years old
  2. You must have a high school diploma or a GED
  3. You must have a driver’s license for Washington state
  4. EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) certification is a must-have for a firefighter. But here you have a little bit of flexibility. You can either already have an EMT certificate before you apply for the selection process, or you can get one upon your hiring; you just have to be eligible for it.

If you meet all the above requirements, then you can proceed to the next phase.

Firefighter Recruitment Process in Washington

The hiring process for this job is fractured into three steps, and one needs to clear all of them in order to obtain employment and enter the training program.

  1. The first step is completing the half an hour long online attitudes questionnaire.
  2. After that, you will be required to sit in the firefighting assessment test which is a two and a half hour long written exam and evaluates your basic mathematics, reasoning, reading skills, and personality traits.
  3. Once you get through the second step, you will have to appear for an oral board exam. After you pass the oral board exam as well, then your name will be added to the Firefighter Register.

But, don’t get your hopes up yet. Only the top quarter of the candidates from the Firefighter Register goes onto the next phase, pre-employment screening.

Pre-employment Screening

The pre-employment screening is a five-step process:

  1. The first step is the Employment Packet where you will be asked questions related to your education, volunteer work, etc. You are allowed to submit your resume as well as reference letters if you have any.
  2. Then comes the Screening Test which will check your emotional stability, ability to make quick decisions and personality.
  3. After the psychological evaluation comes the Candidate Physical Ability Test. This phase confirms if you are a man of action or not, which is a requirement for this job. Your physical strength, agility, speed, stamina, and various other physical attributes will be checked to see if you can take the pressure of the job or not.
  4. The next step in the process is the interview with the Fire Chief. It is an essential job interview where the interviewer will ask you common questions and see if you’re fit for the job. At the end of this phase, if you are able to impress the chief enough, you will be offered conditional employment.
  5. After receiving conditional employment, you will have to face one final hurdle, the medical, psychological and background check. In this phase, you will be provided with thorough medical and psychological evaluations, and a complete background check will be done to confirm that you don’t have any skeletons in your closet, i.e., you don’t have any criminal record.

If you clear this final step, then you will be given full-time employment, and you will be off to your training.

Firefighter Training and Degree Programs in Washington

Once you have landed a job as a firefighter in Washington, you will be subjected to a training period which will include both classroom education sessions and physical training. Once you have made it through the training session, you will have to sit in a certification exam which, if you pass, will earn you the Firefighter II certification and permanent employment. A recruit is subjected to the classroom, physical, and practical training. During the practical training sessions, the candidates are educated in:

  1. How to prevent and fight fires
  2. How to treat injured people
  3. How to handle hazardous material
  4. How to use various equipment like ladders, water hoses, chainsaws, etc.

A firefighter recruit will have to put in a substantial amount of work in the classroom as well. Things covered in the school during firefighter training sessions are:

  1. Search and rescue tactics
  2. Fire Science
  3. Local building codes

For the sake of physical training, a recruit will be asked to cross obstacle courses and go through other such severe physical training exercises to prepare his/her body.

Washington Firefighter Training Academy

Washington Firefighting academy is one of the nation’s best. It creates top-notch fire professionals with exceptional real-time problem-solving skills and physical attributes. It has a weekday firefighting academy which trains recruits in all the necessary firefighting skills. With a curriculum designed to give the classroom and live training equal import, the Washington Firefighting Academy makes sure that by the time you leave the training and are ready to take the job, you are knowledgeable in all the domains of the job.

This course covers all the basics which are taught to every candidate in the Firefighter I certification and advanced techniques, which form the syllabus of the Firefighter II certification as well. Along with these two, this course also teaches how to handle hazardous material and Operations level based on the NFPA standard 1001.

Volunteer Firefighters in Washington

Fire departments across the nation are always looking for volunteer firefighters as the workforce they have isn’t enough. If you are looking to become a volunteer fireman in the Washington state, then the Washington state patrol firefighting academy has got a training program for you too, the weekend academy at the Washington firefighting school. The program is meant for the people who are looking for training in NFPA Firefighting I and hazardous material awareness courses but are unable to attend the school full time. This course circumvents the long 12-week program of the weekday academy and teaches all the firefighting basics to the recruits like fire prevention and control, how to use various equipment, loss control, etc.

Fire Science Schools in Washington

While no degree other than a high school diploma or a GED is required to become a firefighter, still there are perks to being a certified firefighter in Washington. If you feel like you want to keep going in this field and progress, there are a lot of firefighter programs in Washington you can apply for. You can either go for a certificate or an associate’s course as a beginner or a master’s and Ph.D. in fire science. In this line of work, there is a sufficient room to grow.

Fire science is a booming field of education which trains professionals in preventing forests, mountain ranges, cities, villages, and towns from fire hazards. Fire Inspectors, Investigators, and first-line Supervisors are some of the most lucrative and essential job posts in any state fire department. While firefighters are responsible for putting out fires and saving people, fire investigators and inspectors investigate a fire and try to find out the reason behind it. So naturally, these individuals need to be trained in a slightly different manner which helps them in assessing damage and finding the cause of the fire. Some of the top fire science colleges in the state of Washington are:

College NameDegree LevelProgram Name
Bates Technical CollegeAssociateFire Science/Firefighting

Fire Systems Technology

Bellevue CollegeAssociateFire Science/Firefighting

Fire Services Administration

Clover Park Technical CollegeAssociateFire Systems Technology
Columbia Basin CollegeAssociateFire Services Administration
Edmonds Community CollegeAssociateFire Services Administration
Everett Community CollegeAssociateFire Science/Firefighting
Lower Columbia CollegeAssociateFire Science/Firefighting
Olympic CollegeAssociateFire Science/Firefighting
Pierce College at Fort SteilacoomAssociateFire Services Administration
Skagit Valley CollegeAssociateFire Science/Firefighting

How Much do Firefighters Get Paid in Washington?

According to the data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Washington firefighter salary is the fourth highest in the United States. In 2016, firefighters in Washington earned an hourly mean wage of $33.80 and an annual mean wage of $70,300. These figures are way higher than the national estimate for hourly and annual mean wages which are $24.97 and $51,930 respectively.

Fire Fighter Career and Jobs in Washington

The BLS has estimated that the Washington State employed 8,000 firefighters till March 2016. As the demand for firefighters is rising, the employment is likely to grow at a sluggish pace. A firefighter, if required, can go back to school to improve his/her resume and take the master’s or Ph.D. degree to get promoted. Similar to most industries, the pay scale improves with experience in this line of work as well.

References

  1. https://www.bls.gov/oes/2015/may/oes332011.htm#(3)
  2. https://www.washingtonfirefighters.org/our-union-you/become-a-wa-fire-fighter/