A permanent link between Louisiana and lots of water is well known. Indeed, it would be very hard to keep secret, as the water omnipresence throughout the state is obvious and on full display. A prime example is the nearly 24-mile Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, the world’s lengthiest above-water bridge. It is also equally difficult to ignore the state’s cumulative water surfaces of more than 6,084 square miles or nearly half of all American coastal marshlands that lie within its borders.
A far less known fact of Louisiana life is that over half of all North American bird species live or spend large amounts of migratory time in the Pelican State. It’s also a safe bet that most folks have no idea why Spanish architectural styles dominate southern Louisiana landscapes. Odds are even higher that they would never suspect fire as the catastrophic culprit in this foreign influence. In 1788, the then-incumbent Spanish municipal government opted to reconstruct New Orleans after their own indigenous building fashion following a blaze that demolished 856 of the city’s 1,100 structures.
Despite much better construction materials of today and tireless efforts of trained firefighters, that same insidious incendiary fiend lurks behind Louisiana scenes looking to incite a repeat performance. Below you will find the basic overview of how to become a firefighter in Louisiana.
As elsewhere throughout these great United States, the threshold requirements are:
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• Being over the age of 18
• Reside within reasonable proximity of local fire station
• Pass a medical exam
• Hold a valid driver’s license and Social Security card
• Have a clean criminal history
Likewise, like those of sister states, local fire departments in Louisiana have varying additional requirements. Such employment eligibility criteria can range from EMT certification, to hazardous materials training, to a two-year associate’s degree.
The Application Process:
Beyond the above-mentioned standards, all similarity to other states stops. Instead of individual public subsectors, Louisiana lumps firefighting and police personnel together as a single group of civil servants. By further contrast, the state employs an individualized categorization scheme that separates local fire departments into civil service and non-civil service classifications.
The first step to becoming a Louisiana firefighter is applying at the municipal civil service board in the city or “fire protection” district of desired employment. After application review, the local civil service board either approves or disapproves applicant admission to an Entrance Firefighter Examination. This is competitive civil service exam administered by the Office of State Examiner Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service (“OSE”). A separate pre-test application is required and it takes a minimum score of 75 percent for passage.
Successful examinees must report their passing scores to the same local civil service board to which they originally applied. The board then places the applicant’s name on a certified eligibility list that it submits to the local appointing authority. Then, the appointing authority is at liberty to select any firefighter candidate(s) it deems “qualified” based on its own pre-established criteria.
Training and Certification:
Upon appointing authority selection, new firefighter recruits must obtain Firefighter I certification by training program completion at an approved instructional facility and comprehensive exam passage. Some local fire departments in Louisiana maintain their own training academics. Those that don’t simply send their rookies elsewhere to receive the requisite training and foot the tuition bill.
Below is a listing of several schools in Louisiana that offer various firefighter certifications training for entry-level, subspecialty, and higher-level positions.
LSU Fire and Emergency Training Institute
6868 Nicholson Dr
Baton Rouge, LA 70820
Jefferson Parish Fire Training
200 East St
Bridge City, LA 70094
Shreveport Fire Academy
6440 Greenwood Road
Shreveport, LA 71119
Bossier City Fire Department TrainingDivision
620 Benton Rd.
Bossier City, LA 71171
For additional information about how to become a firefighter in Louisiana, visit the OSE official website at http://www.ose.state.la.us/testing_entrancefirefighter.asp.