How To Become A Firefighter In Arizona


how to become a firefighter in Arizona

Arizona is home to one of the most storied fire departments in the country. How to become a firefighter in Arizona is a question I hear more often than you would expect.

When you think of Arizona, what comes to mind first? Is it the dry red dust of the desert landscape, the Grand Canyon or the high heat of Phoenix? While some of these are stereotypes and there is obviously a lot more to the state, the heat and its risks are important considerations for emergency personnel here.

This is especially true for the firefighters with paramedic qualifications dealing with medical emergencies and fires. So, what does it take to work with these skilled teams and become a valuable asset in the Arizona service?

How to Become a Firefighter in Arizona

  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • High School Diploma, GED or equivalent certificate
  • Valid Driver’s License with two years driving experience
  • Ability to obtain an Arizona EMT certification upon graduation from the academy.  Contact AZDHS for questions regarding certification
  • Physical abilities necessary to perform essential firefighting functions
  • Currently, it is not necessary to have either an EMT certification or a Firefighter I or II certification in order to apply in some areas.

The minimum requirements to work as a firefighter in Arizona aren’t that unusual compared to the other states. Those that are old enough, fit enough and have good character can get pretty far.

After that, you will have to deal with the hiring and screening process in Arizona. This is where you can expect some tough interviews and background checks in order to get called back for a probationary role in the department.

In this guide, I want to talk about what it takes to become a firefighter in Arizona, the training opportunities available and some of the different departments.

Firefighting in Arizona

The state of Arizona is famed for its high heat. That high heat can be a curse rather than a blessing in the summer months, especially as temperatures rise even further. The state Fire Marshal must put out fire restrictions for the state on a regular basis.

Those heading to state parks must not make a campfire, take cooking equipment or smoke outside on the hottest, driest days. All residents are advised to be careful with any potential fire risk and to clean up their yards of dry material.

Yet, there are plenty of incidents of fire for Arizona firefighters to contend with. That is why it is so important for major parks and cities to have large, experienced crews on call to tackle incidents as they happen.

There are a lot of state parks and areas at risk of the dry conditions and wildfires but, of course, the most famous is the Grand Canyon. Here residents and tourists can come to challenge themselves on hikes and enjoy the scenery. But, this poses a couple of different risks.

First, there is that risk of fire – whether natural or man-made – and the threat to life and property. Any firefighters here need to be up-to-speed on the latest strategies in wildland fire management.

Then there are the health risks of heat exhaustion, injuries on the rocks and people falling. This is why EMT and Paramedic training is also essential in this area.

There is a specialist Emergency Services division at the Grand Canyon National Park that is responsible for EMS calls, search and rescue, preventative measures, structural firefighting and work with hazardous materials.

This on-site team is essential for the health and well-being of all those in the area because of their skillset and fast response times.

Firefighters in Navajo Areas of Arizona

Arizona has a strong cultural and historical connection to its native roots. In the 2010 census, 73% of people identified as white and 4.6% as Native American or Alaskan.

This means that there is a large community in need of its own fire service that understands its needs. Also, don’t forget that as many as 20.8% of Arizonians speak Spanish and 1.5% speak Navajo.

The Navajo community does have its own fire department that works hard to protect local people in a number of different roles. The department was set up in Fort Defiance in 1985 and have since grown to handle the demands of the area.

There are six fire stations in total that belong to the Navajo Nation Department of Fire and Rescue. While they may only take around 1,500 calls a year, they need to be hand to deal with all kinds of incidents.

Fire and medical support services are essential here. However, the biggest issue in the region is vehicle crashes.

The department also has a training division, opened in 2003, that helps train new recruits to boost numbers in the department. You can find out more about the department, its training facilities and responsibilities here.

Fire Academies in Arizona

There are lots of fire academies and universities across the state of Arizona where you can train to be a firefighter.

Many offer academic courses like associate degrees and certificates to help students on their way into the profession. Others offer a more traditional training program that is approved by major departments.

Central Arizona College in Coolidge has its own Fire Science division. There are two types of courses offered here. The first is the associate degree program in Fire Science Technology.

This two-year program gives students a comprehensive overview of the skills and knowledge needed for an entry-level position in the fire service. Graduates can then take their credits and transfer or move to a role in a fire department.

The other type of course is the shorter certificate of completion. There are three courses here: Firefighter Operations, Driver Operator and Wildland Operations.

These certificates are designed to help those that are already in the profession and need to enhance their skills. You can learn more here.

The Fire Academy in Maricopa at the Mesa Community College is a facility that is highly favored by departments in the state. Here recruits can learn everything they need to know in order to proceed with their career in the fire service.

The fire training facilities teach students about equipment and techniques for suppression, rescue and more. From there, they can then work towards their essential Firefighter 1 and 2 certificates.

The academy also has the advantage of providing nationally certified training in EMT and paramedic skills. This is ideal for those that want to work in major city departments in career roles.  Learn more here.

Major Fire Departments in Arizona

The following is a list of major fire departments in Arizona.  While it isn’t comprehensive it’s a great place to start if you’re interested in learning more about how to become a firefighter in Arizona.

How to Become a Phoenix, AZ Firefighter

  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • High School Diploma, GED or equivalent certificate
  • Valid Driver’s License with two years driving experience
  • Ability to obtain an Arizona EMT certification upon graduation from the academy.  Contact AZDHS for questions regarding certification
  • Physical abilities necessary to perform essential firefighting functions
  • Currently, it is not necessary to have either an EMT certification or a Firefighter I or II certification in order to apply in some areas.

One of the biggest departments in the state is Phoenix. Phoenix has a lot of demands on its new recruits. Some of the basic requirements on age, location and Firefighter I and II certification aren’t that unusual. Recruits must also pass their EMT certificate and CPAT physical ability test.

From there, Phoenix expects its recruits to go even further. There is a cadet program at the station that offers work experience and training. They also prefer to see applicants with some further education beyond their high school diploma and basic training.

They recommend the Fire Science class at Maricopa Community College. Another recommendation is to join an affinity group. These social groups bring together people with certain ethnicity, genders and religion to help them bond and prepare for the role with greater ease. You can find out more about this city and its department here.

How to Become a Yuma, AZ Firefighter

  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • High School Diploma, GED or equivalent certificate
  • Valid Driver’s License with two years driving experience
  • Ability to obtain an Arizona EMT certification upon graduation from the academy.  Contact AZDHS for questions regarding certification
  • Physical abilities necessary to perform essential firefighting functions
  • Currently, it is not necessary to have either an EMT certification or a Firefighter I or II certification in order to apply in some areas.

The department in Yuma is much smaller with just 6 stations and a training facility. However, they are one of only 239 agencies across to world to be accredited by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International.

They are proud of their work in the community and have divisions for EMS, fire suppression, technical rescue and hazardous materials. This is a growing city with a population at the 2010 census of 93,000 and is famed for being the driest, sunniest place in the whole of the US.

This can bring high risks of fires and medical emergencies, so the team here need to be ready to help all those in need. You can find out more about Yuma’s department here.

Job Prospects for Firefighters in Arizona

Looking at high employment rates by non-metropolitan area, Arizona ranks highly with employment with a ratio of 10.88 per 1000 jobs. This the second highest concentration with only Eastern Sierra-Mother Lode in California higher at 13.95. As of 2018, there were 6,380 firefighters employed at a rate of 2.29 per 1000 jobs.

The annual mean wage for firefighters in Arizona is $45,150.

Be aware that wages and opportunities sure to vary by area. For example, those that work in the big cities for a long time are sure to get more opportunities than those in rural areas.

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If you are interested in learning how to become a firefighter in Arizona it’s important to know they have an extreme climate and some extremely vibrant cities and communities. The risks attached to living and working here cannot be underestimated.

That is why you need the right character and ability to be a firefighter here, not just the education and technical skill.

It is important to work through the process with honesty and strong character – from the first application right through the examinations. Those that have the right mindset can make a big difference here.

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