Arizona – home of the desert, and the infamous high desert. Arizona is also home to the infamous Northern Arizona National Forest, which has been subject to some of the biggest major wildfires in the west over the course of the last century. Arizona has been an area of the country where the firefighting profession has continued to grow. Rapid local expansion out into the suburbs has forced some of the smaller towns outside of the major cities to hire firefighters that are basically subcontracted by the county due to the fact that they are located so far from major cities. There is definitely an immediate need at the firefighter position in this state, and their requirements are a little less strict as a result. Below we will cover some of the firefighter requirements for most large cities in Arizona including Phoenix.
For starters you must meet the following basic requirements:
- Be 18 years of age.
- High School Diploma or GED are preferred but not required in all cities in Arizona.
- Possess an Emergency Medical Technichian (EMT) Certificate by the time you have your final interview.
- College Level training is preferred and the Maricopa Community College System works with local Fire Departments to ensure that potential candidates get some of the best fire training in the country.
- Much like California, you can get your Firefighter 1 and Firefighter 2 certification at local colleges, and the extra education is preferred.
- State and FBI level Criminal Background Check.
- Drug test before hire, and potentially up to 3 times per year randomly if selected to the firefighter recruit program.
So now that we’ve covered the bare minimum basics in the Grand Canyon state, let’s cover some of the positions. Arizona relies heavily on their Volunteer program or their “cadets” to help not only cover larger areas of firefighting need, but a way for aspiring firefighters to contribute to the firefighting program before becoming a recruit. It serves as a way to communicate with peers in their field that people looking to break into this career field can certainly use for networking purposes. The breakdown of the Arizona firefighter roles are below.
Cadet: Volunteer firefighters have been given the label of “Cadet.” Cadets are part of the firefighting volunteer program and must be able to sacrifice a minimum of 32 hours quarterly for various areas with the fire department. This can be done in many ways, and the most common are helping at the fire station open house, or at public events. In order to qualify as a Cadet, you need to have a clean background, driver’s license and be at least 16 years old. You also need to go through a board interview as part of the process. Not all of Arizona cities offer a Cadet program, but most of the larger cities do.
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Recruit: Arizona has a recruit title assigned to Firefighter Recruits that are assigned at the Fire Training Academy. This is basically like a doctor’s residency, and the Recruit will move on to a Firefighter 1 when they are finished with the Training Academy.
Firefighter 1 and Firefighter 2: Unlike Arizona’s neighboring state California, Firefighter 1 and Firefighter 2 training certifications are awarded at the local firefighter academy. These training courses can also be taken at one of the local Arizona colleges making it convenient for those that may not get selected to participate in the recruit program. The Firefighter 1 and Firefighter 2 certifications can be obtained before one applies to become a firefighter or once the candidate has been accepted into the firefighter academy. This makes Arizona one of the more lenient state options for getting hired as a firefighter considering the education requirements as well.
Hopefully we’ve covered any questions you might have on how to become a firefighter in Arizona. Due to the fact that like other states, there are physical tests, it’s recommended that you are in top shape before starting to apply for the fire department programs. It’s also recommended that you do everything possible to network with firefighters and anyone that could have an input on your career future. Networking in firefighting is just like any other career, and it pays dividends to invest time as a volunteer if you have the capability to do so. Many local Arizona fire departments prefer that the hired candidate actually have volunteer experience to prove that they have what it takes to make it in this competitive field.