Arcata Fire: The road to becoming a firefighter

You’re driving to work when suddenly hear sirens blaring, you pull over and a shiny red fire engine races by.

Have you ever wondered where they’re going? Who they will help? Or even, what it might be like to be in their shoes? If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming a firefighter here are the basic requirements to make it a reality.

Firefighting can be dangerous, difficult, exhausting and one of the most rewarding professions there is. As a firefighter, you serve alongside amazing men and women and overcome mental and physical challenges.

You will help your community in their time of greatest need as well as protecting their properties and the environment.

With the recent catastrophic wildfires in California, growing populations, and increasing need for emergency medical services, demand for firefighters is at an all-time high.

The requirements to get hired with every fire department vary somewhat and the competition for jobs can be fierce.

If you’re interested the following may be required to become a competitive firefighter candidate in California.

Education: All fire departments will require a high school diploma or equivalent. But a college degree is highly desirable, especially bachelor and fire science degrees.

Firefighter 1 Certificate: The Firefighter 1 certificate is typically earned by completing a three- to four-month-long fire academy. This challenging academy is likely the most important hurdle you will overcome for a career in the fire service.

EMT (Emergency Medical Technician):  More than 80 percent of calls are medical emergencies so most, if not all, fire departments will require candidates to complete an EMT Basic course.

Standardized Testing: There are two widely recognized tests fire departments will look to for hiring. The FCTC (Fire Candidate Testing Center) and the NTN (National Testing Network).

CPAT (Candidate Physical Ability Test): This obstacle course will test the candidate’s baseline fitness.

After completing these steps you can be eligible for nearly all California fire departments. If you are looking to become a firefighter but don’t have the time for all of these steps, consider volunteering at your local department.

Volunteering is also a great way to gain experience and improve your chances of getting hired on as a full time firefighter.

For more information contact the Arcata Fire District, (707) 825-2000 or

September 2018


• Arcata – 163

• McKinleyville – 100

• Manila – 9

• HSU – 15

• Bayside – 15

• Out of District – 8



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