How To Become A Firefighter In Connecticut

Connecticut may only be a small state in size, but how to become a firefighter in Connecticut is a question I’ve received several times.

With just 5,567 square miles of it lying to the south of New England, it is a densely populated state. In fact, it is the 4th most densely populated state in the country.

This means a lot of people and property to protect in a very small space. The amount of fire departments here may not be that big but that doesn’t mean that they don’t encounter plenty of challenges.

Whether you are a student, high school grad or someone in need of a career change, you can see what the fire service has to offer here. So, what does it take to become a firefighter in Connecticut?

How to Become a Firefighter in Connecticut

  • Generally, 18 years old or older
  • High school diploma or GED
  • A valid driver’s license
  • Good physical and mental health
  • EMT training advised

The basic requirements in Connecticut aren’t too challenging. The general rules for age, residency, education and physical fitness apply here too.

In fact, there are lots of ways that you can get your foot in the door if you are prepared to be a volunteer firefighter first and study hard.

In this guide, I want to highlight some of the training options and departments in the state. I also want to take a moment to look at the importance of volunteering in smaller communities.

Firefighting in Connecticut

If you want to start out as a firefighter in Connecticut, a volunteer role might be the best option. There are lots of chances to join smaller departments across the state.

Here you can get valuable hands-on experience and learn about the fire service. The “quiet corner” of the north-east of Connecticut has little need for the diverse, extensive service provisions of somewhere like Hartford. But, they still need coverage and community services.

Coventry is a great example of a town with a strong volunteer department. They may only cover 38.4 square miles, but they ensure that personnel have the best training for fire and EMS calls.

One of the perks about Connecticut is that there are Fire Assistance Grants for volunteer departments where they can get more assistance and funding.

The idea is that this will help struggling areas tackle agricultural and woodland fires with greater ease. In order to qualify, the local population must be less than 10,000.

Another way for firefighters to help out in these rural areas is to work alongside the DEEP forestry division.

There is a high risk of forest fires in the state in the spring and it is up to the department and local fire crews to minimize the risks and any damage. DEEP monitor around 1.8 million acres of land for any threats and sent reports on daily risks and danger levels.

They then work with fire departments and other outlets to keep the public away, keep an eye on the situation and handle any fires.

Urban Firefighting in Connecticut

There is a lot more to this state than just its forests, wildland management and volunteer services. Some major towns and cities need skilled, paid firefighters to handle major fires and emergencies.

We also can’t forget that Connecticut and its biggest cities lie very close to New York City. If there was to be another major incident there, there is every chance that Connecticut firefighters would go and help.

Therefore, you need to be ready for the absolute worst-case scenarios even if they are a remote possibility. On-going training in emergency preparations, hazardous materials, crash sites and rescues can help.

Closer to home, those skills will be useful on highways, in airports and in massive structures in the cities. It also helps to update your medical training certificates, so you can provide life-saving help too.

Connecticut is largely well-known as a college state and students need protection too.  The University of Connecticut is an acclaimed institution in its own right and there is also Yale over in New Haven.

This means that there is a large younger population for a large portion of the year. Local fire departments need to be ready to handle their needs in both a fire rescue and a fire prevention capacity. Good communication skills and outreach programs can offer students advice on how to stay safe on campus and in dorms.

In fact, the University of Connecticut has its own fire department that looks after students living and studying between the campuses in Storrs and Farmington.

They claim to provide help for around 5400 emergency calls per year in these areas. They also help fire marshals keep the buildings safe and perform those crucial outreach tasks.

Some students studying in Connecticut may wish to join their local campus team and give something back to their community. This isn’t possible at this department because they don’t offer such a volunteer program.

However, students in the area are encouraged to look into volunteer options in local departments in the area. More details on these options can be found by following this link.

The alternative for those of student age in Connecticut is to enroll in a fire technology or fire science course. You can then use that knowledge to proceed with a career in a department either at the university or elsewhere in the state.

Fire Academies in Connecticut

There are many options where students can get an academic qualification or train at a fire academy. They include the following:

The University of New Haven offers a Bachelor of Science program in Fire Science. The interesting thing about this course is that it isn’t as broad as some associate degrees or certificates in community colleges.

Students will get to know all the basics under the guidance of a tutor with fire experience. This includes a lot of practical work as well as theory.

From there, students can focus their studies on either Fire Administration of Fire Investigation. The path chosen can help with future career goals. Learn more about this program here.

Of course, there is always the opportunity for recruits to gain most of their basic training while on probation with a department.

Many departments will give conditional offers of employment with the expectation that applicants will pass certain certificates in a given time frame. Firefighter 1 and 2 and an EMT certificate are essential here. You can then go onto colleges or training school courses for advanced learning.

Major Fire Departments in Connecticut

There are two major cities that I want to look at as an alternative to the volunteer and student programs mentioned above. These cities, and others like them, are often the biggest employers of career firefighters and those in more specialty roles.

How to Become a Stamford, CT Firefighter

  • At time of application, must have graduated from an accredited high school or received an equivalency diploma (G.E.D.) from a recognized authority
  • By date of written examination, must be at least 18 years of age
  • Must possess a valid driver’s license
  • Must have a CPAT Card in date

Stamford is a vibrant city with a large residential population and even larger day-time population. This means a need for a 24/7 department that can look after people in their homes over 39.9 square miles at night and tend to round-the-clock medical emergencies.

It also means a need for skilled personnel that can handle the needs of all the workers commuting in. They have over 230 employees in 6 stations and equipment to handle EMT services, fire suppression, high-angle rope rescue, hazmat incident and more. Find out more here.

How to Become a Hartford, CT Firefighter

  • Generally, 18 years old or older
  • High school diploma or GED
  • A valid driver’s license
  • Good physical and mental health
  • EMT training advised

Then there is Hartford. There are fewer people to take care of here in about half the area – around 124,000 people in 18.4 square miles.

However, this ISO 1 station appears to be better funded and better staffed. There are 12 stations housing 17 companies and around 360 career firefighters. The department is home to some important regional equipment, such as the decontamination unit.

Therefore, fire crews here must have all the right training and good communication skills to work with other departments and members of the public. You can find out more here.

Job Prospects for Firefighters in Connecticut

Like the majority of states in New England, Connecticut has a decent rate of employment and demand for firefighters. The average wage is above the national average too.

In 2018, there were 3,140 firefighters employed with a ratio of 1.89 in 1000 jobs.

The mean wage for firefighters in Connecticut is $63,630.

This is more than neighboring Rhode Island, which saw an average yearly salary of $55,240, and the $60,080 in Massachusetts.

If you’re interested in how to become a firefighter in Connecticut, I recommend you get started as soon as you can.  Connecticut is big on youth involvement in the fire service. You can become a cadet, learn skills with departments and volunteer at the right age.

You can also take courses to gain all the right certificates to become a career firefighter here. The state has a lot of people to protect in a very small area. With the right training and attitude, you can make sure that you are a great addition to any Connecticut fire department.