More likely than not, most folks are unaware that Oklahoma has more man-made bodies of water than any of its sister states. In fact, the aggregate surface area of its artificial aquatic reservoirs exceeds a million acres. By stark contrast, the National Lighter Museum located in Guthrie is the country’s sole museum dedicated solely to lighter displays. Such seeming contradiction makes it difficult to determine whether Oklahomans’ collective loyalties lie with water or incendiary devices.
While the jury will probably remain perpetually hung as to that question, an uncontested fact is that uncontrolled fire presents a public danger of universal disdain in Oklahoman. Therefore, a force of dedicated servants remains at the ready to take rapid remedial action whenever flames develop within Sooner State horizons.
How to become a firefighter in Oklahoma:
Becoming an Oklahoma firefighter entails successful navigation of a complicated maze consisting of multiple bureaucratic layers. Moreover, like the vast majority of U.S. jurisdictions, local fire departmental rules and municipal regulations pertaining to firefighter qualifications vary in Oklahoma.
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Below are the basic firefighter requirements that remain relatively constant for all fire department sizes and locations:
• Be at least 18 years of age
• Hold a valid Oklahoma driver’s license
• Pass a background check
• Have a high school diploma or GED
• Must live within a 30-minute drive of their local fire department
1) Pre-application exam passage
The Oklahoma firefighter application process begins by completing a written exam to evaluate basic reading and math skills. At time of initial application, the candidate is issued a printed admission ticket that indicates the date, time, and location of the exam. A long-standing Oklahoma custom is for local fire departments to rank applicants by their respective scores on this preliminary pre-hiring test. Many locales like Oklahoma City give former service members with honorable discharges and active-duty reservists or National Guardsmen a five-point preferential final exam score addition.
2) Physical exam passage
By state law, all prospective firefighters in Oklahoma must pass a physical skill assessment to ascertain their ability to withstand the physical rigors of their desired profession. Firefighter applicants must first undergo a comprehensive medical exam, then procure and provide written medical verification of muscular stamina and cardiovascular endurance. Next, the recruit must perform a serious of simulated firefighting tasks involving search and rescue, ladder assembly and ascension, and water hose dragging.
3) Firefighter and ancillary certification
A unique aspect of Oklahoma firefighting occupational landscapes is mandatory Emergency Medical Technician licensure as a precondition to attain and maintain employment as a firefighter. Many local departments incorporate EMT certification training into their firefighter training, while others require prior EMT licensure via independent source(s) prior to making application.
4) Personal history verification passage
A background check is the last phase of the firefighter application process and involves taking a full set of the candidate’s fingerprints followed by a thorough criminal history check. A polygraph test is also typically part of the process.
Further details about how to become a firefighter in Oklahoma are freely available on the Oklahoma State Firefighters Association official website at http://www.osfa.info/.