Nebraska is proof that it is very unwise to judge a book by its cover. Its former official nickname of “The Great American Desert” belies the fact that more subterranean water lies beneath Nebraska’s surface than any other state. Being the country’s biggest center pivot irrigation producer and home of the world’s biggest indoor rain forest at Omaha’s Lied Jungle are further corroboration that the above-quoted adage is quite correct.
Despite these extensive aquatic relations and natural resources, Nebraska has yet to stifle the ever-smoldering attentions of an old flame called “fire.” Fortunately, though, devoted crews of well-trained bodyguards with special skill in the science of fighting fire safeguard public safety against this haunt that constantly stalks and threatens to explode at every given second. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, they do a great job, too. Nebraska has one of the lowest incidences of fire in the nation.
Basic eligibility criteria for how to become a firefighter in Nebraska include:
• Being over the age of 18
• An valid driver’s license
• Live within a reasonable distance of local fire department
• Pass a background check
• Pass a medical exam
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Although applicable state statutory provisions make formal certification optional for Nebraska firefighters, virtually all local fire departments require Firefighter I training and certification to obtain and/or maintain employment.
The Fire Marshal Training Division (“NFMTD”) is the Nebraska state regulatory agency that oversees all firefighter training and certification. Obtaining Firefighter certification is a four-step process consisting of:
1) Successful completion of an NFMTD-approved course that complies with applicable National Fire Protection Association standards
2) Application for FF-I Candidacy submission to NFMTD
3) Passage of either an NFMTD-administered Practical Skills or Performance Skills Examination
4) Application for and passage an NFMTD-administered FF-I certification exam
Firefighter I certification training in Nebraska is a 90-hour course that includes 30 hours of instruction dedicated to hazardous materials. Other topics include:
• Fire Service History and Orientation
• Firefighter Safety
• Fire Behavior
• Portable Fire Extinguishers
• Personal Protective Apparel
• Building Search and Rescue
• Size-up and Response
• Firefighter Tools and Equipment
• Forcible Entry
• Knots and Ropes
• Fire Nozzles, Streams, and Hoses
• Water Supply
• Fire Cause and Determination
• Fire Attack, and Suppression
• Firefighter Survival
NFMTD also offers other levels of advanced and fire subspecialty certifications. Many participating local fire departments maintain on-site Firefighter I Training facilities. At such locations, NFMTD-employed teachers who are experienced experts in their respective instructional topics conduct training.
Applicants may download all training admission and certification applications and other required forms, pay applicable fees, and view available openings at local fire departments in the state on this site. There is also contact information for NFMTD-approved training programs and even sources of scholarship funds to assist eligible firefighter applicants with training certification tuition and application fees.