Most Americans do not know that they speak a foreign language whenever they say “Michigan.” A little-known fact is that the name Michigan is a derivative of the French word “Ojibwa,” which loosely translates into “large lake” or “large water” in English. No matter the language, official moniker, or affectionate name is used, our nation’s ninth most populous state has a well-deserved association with lots of water.
Notwithstanding close proximity to vast stores of natural liquid extinguishment, Michigans face the ever-present threat of fire. Fortunately, however, more than 32,000 firefighters at over 1,000 local fire departments throughout the Great Lakes State work diligently to combat this archenemy of public health and safety.
Overview of how to become a firefighter in Michigan:
The Office of Fire Fighter Training (“OFFT”) has sole regulatory responsibility for all firefighter training, professional certification, and policy implementation. Despite some deviations among local fire departments, OFFT imposes two basic requirements of all would-be firefighters in Michigan:
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• At least 18 years of age
• Dual Firefighter I/Firefighter II certification
Completion of Firefighter I (“FFI-I”) and Firefighter II (“FF-II) pre-certification training at an OFFT- approved regional facility. Classes typically last between 7 and 11 weeks and encompass the following subjects:
• Types of fires
• Firefighting statutory and ordinance provisions
• Water fire streams
• Safety procedures
• Expert extrication of entrapped fire victim – FF-II
• Expert determination of fire origin and causation – FF-II
FFI-I and FFI-II certification exams are really two separate tests: theoretical knowledge and practical skills assessments. The former consists of 200 questions and requires a minimum score of 70 percent for passage. The latter requires demonstrating acceptable minimum proficiency in the following skills:
• Forcible building egress while donned in full fire gear
• Search and rescue operation simulation participation
• Ladder ascension dexterity and speed
• Proper use of firefighting equipment like axes and water hoses
Irrespective of firefighter training facility and/or curriculum selected, all segments of subsequent FF-I and FF-I certification exams are state-administered to ensure uniform testing validity and integrity.
Unsuccessful FF-I and FF-II certification examinees may subsequently retake written and/or practical skills testing.
Fire department-specific requirements:
Many smaller municipal Public Safety departments require firefighters to serve double duty as police officers or provide Emergency Medical Services. Such locales require specialized law enforcement training or Medical First Responder, Paramedic, or EMT-B licensure besides FF-I/FF-II certification. In addition, volunteer firefighter candidates must undergo a minimum of 66 hours of classroom instruction besides any available on-the-job practical training.
For further details about the latest educational and certification requirements for Michigan firefighters, contact the OFFT directly at:
Bureau of Fire Services/OFFT
525 W. Allegan St, 4th Floor
Lansing, MI 48913-0001
Those wanting to find out more about how to become a firefighter in Michigan should also visit OFFT’s official website at Michigan.gov. Featured content includes FF-I and FF-II certification exam outlines, accredited training program contact data, and other helpful content.