How To Become a Firefighter in Washington

Washington is home of one of the most amazing skylines in all of the US.  There’s a good reason so many high tech startups and other business ventures start in Seattle.  It’s also the home to some of America’s best rock music and has one of the most interesting laid back cultures in the entire United States.  A lot of the reasons people flock to Washington is the cool temperate climate, and the outdoor friendly atmosphere.  It caters to people that love camping, hiking and really any type of outdoor activity.  There are areas all along the western ocean front that see plenty of moisture and rain.   Washington has many dense areas of forest and there are also areas that have plenty of high desert, get minimal rain and as a result, are susceptible to wildfires.

Because of the large areas of forest in Washington, there is also one of the highest needs in all of the US for trained wildland firefighters.  Wildland firefighters are typically brought on as temporary firefighters in Washington and they cover the wildland areas that are not urbanized.  During the summer time and dry months, it can be very busy for Washington based wildland firefighters, less so in the wintertime.  As a result, most of the contractually employed firefighters cover the wildland fire season and typically return to different jobs in the off season.  Wildland firefighters have slightly different requirements than full time firefighters, so we will cover the basic firefighter requirements of Washington full time firefighters first.

Here are the minimum requirements you will need to become a firefighter in Washington:

  • Have a High School Diploma or a hold a GED equivalent.
  • Must have an active Driver’s License.
  • Must be at least 18 years old.
  • You will need an EMT certification on your hire date (always good to have this before applying).
  • You will need to pass all of the State’s Firefighter testing processes.

Once you’ve met this criteria, you will need to clear the following before attending recruit training:

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  • Physical Exam
  • Written Exam
  • Psychological Exam
  • Oral Interview
  • You will need to pass the CPAT

Once you have passed through this portion of the process, you will attend the “recruit” training program that is paid for by the state.  You will be fully compensated during your firefighter training program if you’ve made it this far.

Here’s what you can expect in the training program:

  • 600+ Hours of total training over 13 weeks
  • Classroom training
  • Live Fire training
  • Pass Daily Test Reviews of that day’s material

You should know have a good insight on what to expect during the 3 phases of hiring with the state of Washington.  Keep in mind that all municipalities may have their own requirements, but most of them follow the same sets of guidelines.  They may treat the process slightly differently but they typically end up with the same criteria before making offers.

You will need to make sure that you are open to whatever gets your career off on the right foot.  For instance, if you don’t pass the interview process, you can always attempt wildland firefighter training programs until you learn the job and get yourself up to speed.

To become a wildland firefighter you need to pass the same “basic” requirements that you would need to become a firefighter in most parts of Washington.  The training classes are typically shorter though with more focus on learning the actual job itself on the front lines.  Wildland firefighting typically opens up positions in March to carry through the rest of the summer and into the fall.  If you are looking to become a firefighter during this time of the year, I would definitely suggest keeping all options open and considering wildland firefighting as a viable option to get your foot in the door.

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