How to Become a Firefighter in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania – Known variously as America’s “Keystone” or “Quaker” State, perhaps the most fitting nickname for Pennsylvania is the “State of Independence.” Current residents of Pennsylvania continue living that long legacy today amid topographic landscapes of over 60 percent forestry amid scenic beauty of wildlife. That beneficial aspect has an inherent drawback of increased incidence of wildfires, however. Pennsylvania, like any other state, has a host of requirements that you must meet if you are going to be employed as a firefighter.  We are going to cover the Pennsylvania firefighter requirements in depth so you have a good idea what it’s going to take for you to start down the path of your dream career in one of America’s most loyal and patriotic states.

Basic requirements to become a Pennsylvania firefighter

Despite specifics with slight differences among local fire departments, the following criteria are universal requirements that qualify new hires.

Firefighting18 years of age or older
• High school diploma or GED. If you want to have your applications accepted easily or to advance within the department easily, it is better to at least attend a 2-year degree program for fire science, emergency management or a related field.
• Be a resident of the city in which you want to become a firefighter. The time requirement varies by city.
• Maintain a valid Pennsylvania driver’s license throughout firefighter application process, training period, and professional employment

• Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) licensure for entire duration of firefighter employment
• Pass comprehensive medical exam
• Current or correctable visual acuity of 20/30 or better
• Pass pre-hire background check
• Complete post-hire probationary period

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Besides the above basics, larger fire departments in areas like Pittsburgh, Allentown and Philadelphia require candidates to complete formal academy training for additional certifications.

Pennsylvania firefighting job salaries

Consistent with long pioneering traditions, Pennsylvania has shown high ambition to bridge historical pay gaps with starting salaries consistent with the value of firefighting work.

Below is a list of fire departments in the state that offer great pay rates that range far above the national average.

Local Fire Department Median Annual Salary

Allentown $41,781

Doylestown $50,558

Lancaster $44,130

Lebanon $44,130

Levittown $50,558

Philadelphia $45,138

Reading $44,302

West Chester $46,493

York $43,196



Insider tips for a head start over stiff competition for firefighter positions

You must set yourself apart with documented facts and hard evidence that you are one of the best candidates for the firefighting jobs.

1) Start early

Begin preparing to enter the profession as soon as possible. Even junior high school is not too early offer to wash fire trucks free during weekends and holiday breaks. This is a great way to get a foot firmly in the door of your local fire department.

2) Form strategic firefighting associations
Get actively involved in community functions and local events related to fire prevention. An excellent starting point of reference to form strong future career connections is the Pennsylvania Forest Fire Museum. Its website features a news section and comprehensive schedule of upcoming events across the state that directly relate to forestry fire prevention.

3) Volunteer work affords vast value for would-be firefighters
Volunteering will give you valuable experience, and you probably will know some job openings ahead of others.

4) Build a strong foundation
Firefighters must be familiar with many different fields and disciplines. Make it your hobby to study various aspects of firefighting at every opportunity. Browse rescue squad blogs, join first responder forums and sign-up for free firefighter e-newsletters to stay abreast of the latest developments in the firefighting field.

5) Workout regularly and keep fit
Years of rigorous exercise regimens will keep you in tip-top physical shape to ace practical skills portions of FFI/FFII exams.

The Pennsylvania Office of the State Fire Commissioner oversees all firefighter certification and training and the State Fire Academy is the state administering agency for firefighters.

For more information on the State Fire Academy’s program, Contact

Office of the State Fire Commissioner
2605 Interstate Drive
Harrisburg, PA 17110
Phone (717) 651-2200
Toll Free in PA 800-670-3473
Fax (717) 651-2210

State Fire Academy
1150 Riverside Drive
Lewistown, PA 17044
Phone (717) 248-1115
Toll Free in PA 800-459-4096
Fax (717) 248-3580

Visit the Pennsylvania Office of the State Fire Commissioner official website for the most recent information about Pennsylvania firefighter training and certification requirements.

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