How To Become A Firefighter In Alabama


how to become a firefighter in Alabama

Many aspiring firefighters in Alabama have asked how to become a firefighter in Alabama. 

Alabama is a state on the rise in terms of its living standards, population growth and it’s economy. Fire departments here have many challenges ahead of them to help protect this population and its infrastructure.

How to Become a Firefighter in Alabama

  • Applicants must have graduated from a high school or hold an equivalent qualification
  • Applicants must hold the State of Alabama’s valid driver’s license
  • Applicants must be citizens of the United States
  • Applicants must have successfully completed the Candidate Physical Agility Test (CPAT)
  • Applicants must hold the State of Alabama’s EMS certification at the EMT-Basic level or above

The basic guidelines in Alabama are actually quite straightforward. As long as you have residency and educational qualification to process, and have a valid state license, you can continue with the application process.

From there, it is up to different departments within the state to create their own, more detailed checklist of expectations. This is I what I will to talk about in more detail below.

I want to discuss some of the training requirements and the hiring process of becoming a firefighter in Alabama.

Firefighting in Alabama

One of the things that you will notice in many of the statements from fire departments in Alabama is that they are “equal opportunities employers”. All departments have to make this claim now to help attract applicants of different genders, races and sexual orientation.

This means that anyone can apply to be a firefighter in Alabama. There are some women and members of black and Hispanic communities taking on roles in both career departments and volunteer departments.

Everyone in Alabama with an interest in becoming a firefighter is encouraged to apply and work through the process. If you can pass the initial minimum requirements, do well in the firefighter interview, progress through the background checks and work through the training, you should have a good chance.

The firefighter hiring process in Alabama

The Alabama hiring process is long and complex – as are many in states across the country. Applicants that pass the initial stages with their proof of age, residency and education requirements will be faced with more interviews, screenings and background checks.

Departments want to be sure that all new recruits have the right moral character to become part of the department.

This is a term that may be open to interpretation by different chiefs and department officers.

For the most part, this means having a clean criminal record, a clean driver’s license and showcasing the right personality for the job.

Many Alabama departments will be strict when it comes to any past criminal activity, including some smaller misdemeanors. Many also prefer that applicants don’t have any past issues with DUI, drugs or even tobacco use.  

It’s important to keep in mind that as you progress through the hiring process you should expect to be drug tested as well.  You can click this link to learn more about what to expect during a firefighter drug test.

Fire Academies in Alabama

Alabama has community colleges, technical schools and fire academies in several major towns and cities throughout the state. There are too many to list in this guide.

Instead, here are some of the different options in five of the towns with the most to offer.

Community colleges are often the best place to gain an education in firefighting while looking for some hands-on experience.

The Jefferson State program in Birmingham teaches students about all the basics in training, strategies, equipment and more.

There is an advanced certificate over 33 hours and an associate degree over 61 hours. The latter goes much deeper into the firefighting and advanced shills to prepare for work in the fire service.

The courses also offer enough credit to go on to take Firefighter 1 and 2 certification exams or to transfer to a 4-year college. You can find out more about the modules and structure here.

The state is also home to the Alabama Fire College, which offers everything from your basic qualifications up to all of the specializations after becoming a career firefighter.

The facility lets new applicants progress onto their Firefighter 1 exam with material accredited by the Regional Training Network and local departments.

Originally, these courses were available in the Tuscaloosa Fire College only. The network has since grown to bring in 12 regional centers and 8 more extension centers. This means greater accessibility for recruits.

It is now seen as one of the best resources out there for self-sponsored students that don’t have the financial support of a department hiring them. Learn more by following this link.   

New recruits should also be aware that some departments will place heavy emphasis on the importance of further study. Anyone starting out with their Firefighter I certification should understand that this is the start of a long process.

Qualified firefighters need to keep up with their training and learn more skills. There are lots of specialist areas of knowledge and certification can improve job prospects further down the line.

Major Fire Departments in Alabama

The following is a list of a few major fire departments in Alabama.  While this list is far from comprehensive, it’s a good place to start if you’re interested in how to become a firefighter in Alabama.

How to Become a Montgomery, AL Firefighter

  • Applicants must have graduated from a high school or hold an equivalent qualification
  • Applicants must hold the State of Alabama’s valid driver’s license
  • Applicants must be citizens of the United States
  • Applicants must have successfully completed the Candidate Physical Agility Test (CPAT)
  • Applicants must hold the State of Alabama’s EMS certification at the EMT-Basic level or above

The Montgomery Fire Department basic requirements are simple enough for those that want to apply at an entry-level position. But, there is the insistence that applicants have no background involving “violence or moral turpitude.”

The wording of this clause is interesting and will be tested during the interview and screening processes.

Montgomery is one of the largest departments in the state with around 450 members covering 175 square miles and 200,000 people via 15 stations.

It was the first station with an ISO 1 rating. Firefighters here are part of a close-knit team that is experienced and professional at all times. Find out more about Montgomery here

How to Become a Tuscaloosa, AL Firefighter

  • High school diploma or GED required; no previous experience required.
  • Must be at least 19 years of age.
  • Must possess a valid driver’s license.
  • Must be able to obtain and maintain a valid Alabama Firefighter I and Firefighter II certification within the first year of employment.

The Tuscaloosa Fire Department has a long history within the city and has continually grown to meet the needs of its residents and communities.

At the moment, this means that over 250 firefighters are working out of 11 stations.

The crews serve a population of around 105,000 people over 71.78 miles of land. This includes the campuses of the University of Alabama and other colleges.

The city was named the “Most Livable City in America” and a great place for young people, which brings in many students and new residents.

These residents need a department that can handle the basics of fire suppression and operations in accidents and major blazes. Crews should also help in specialist areas dealing with water rescue and dangerous materials.

How to Become a Mobile, AL Firefighter

  • Applicants must have graduated from a high school or hold an equivalent qualification
  • Applicants must hold the State of Alabama’s valid driver’s license
  • Applicants must be citizens of the United States
  • Applicants must have successfully completed the Candidate Physical Agility Test (CPAT)
  • Applicants must hold the State of Alabama’s EMS certification at the EMT-Basic level or above

Mobile is a city that is in need skilled, professional firefighters in increasing number for years to come. The city is growing all the time as the port expands, new businesses flood in and the population grows to sustain both.

This means more staff to cover the residential and business districts and enough training personnel to look after incidents at the port.

The port means that firefighters here need different skills than those further inland or out in the country.

These ships and facilities are large-scale structures that can contain large amounts of dangerous materials. There is also the need for water rescue knowledge. Therefore, those that apply to join in Mobile should make sure they continue past their basic training.

Job Prospects for Firefighter in Alabama

The current stats for some of the major cities show that Alabama is a state on the rise.

People are drawn to the major cities for education, work and a good family life. Therefore, we should expect there to be plenty of positions available – either in career roles or in volunteer departments.

As of 2018, there were 5680 firefighters employed in the state. This was actually a high ratio compared to others with 2.92 posts per 1000 jobs.

The annual mean wage for firefighters in Alabama was $41,740.

This isn’t the lowest in the country nor the highest. Be aware that wages can vary greatly depending on experience, roles and location.

https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes332011.htm#st

If you want to know how to become a firefighter in Alabama, it may be getting easier and easier. There are still strict rules about moral character and past behavior, they are growing as a state, and with this growth comes the need for more firefighters.

There is certainly enough growth and enough funding for training courses to help new applicants proceed with their dreams. Talk to local departments about their upcoming opportunities and look for a training facility near you.

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