How To Become A Firefighter In Hawaii

Given Hawaii’s natural beauty a lot of aspiring firefighters ask how to become a firefighter in Hawaii.  The fire department of Hawaii is one of the most interesting and diverse within the United States.

There is nowhere else in the US with this geography and the same range of roles for its crew members. Firefighters will have to deal with many of the typical emergencies seen in other departments across the country, such as house fires, vehicle accidents and other major blazes.

However, there are also many other roles on land and sea across the four main islands.

How To Become A Firefighter In Hawaii

  • 18 years old
  • High school diploma or GED
  • State driver’s license
  • EMT certificate where applicable

As you can see, there are some key minimum requirements to deal with here such as the EMT certification.

There is also a strong focus on physical ability with some tough tests during the application process.

Below I will go over some of these factors in a little more detail. I also want to talk about the different situations and opportunities available – both for those training to be a firefighter and those working for the major fire departments in Hawaii.

The Hawaii Firefighter Application Process

The physical agility test in Hawaii is very specific and very difficult to complete, but many of the events are similar to what you can expect on the CPAT.

There are four events in total.

  1. The weight drag event is a test of strength where candidates run along a course for 50ft, pick up a 140-pound weight and then return along the course with it. This must be completed in 16 seconds.
  2. Another test of strength is the hose bundle test. Here you have to carry a hose over a course within 40 seconds. The catch here is that trainees must wear department-standard kit during the event.
  3. Then there is the running event – a simple test to run 5 laps (1.25 miles) in just 12 minutes.
  4. Finally, there is a swimming event. This is essential for Hawaii because of the number of water activities. Applicants must swim for 100 yards in no less than 2mins 15 seconds and then dive to retrieve a weight from the bottom of the pool.

One of the interesting things about becoming a fire officer in Hawaii is the range of skills and responsibilities.

The smaller stations and island locations mean that there is a lot of water rescue calls.

Hawaii Country crew members need to be able to help with sea search and rescue operations and ocean safety programs.

This can include some junior lifesaving courses. Prevention plays a huge role as it is just as important here as rescue.

Hawaii Firefighters and Volcanoes

Another unique aspect of working in Hawaii as a firefighter is the chance to carry out fire rescues and suppressions around volcanoes.

Hawaii has several volcanoes on the islands. Some are dormant giants that act as tourist attractions for those that flock to the islands.

Others will threaten homes and businesses with eruptions.

Hawaii crews need the right training to be able to help those trapped and endangered by any lava flows and subsequent fires. It also isn’t unheard of for fire crews to retrieve people that have fallen into a volcano.

Fire Academies in Hawaii

Training is essential in Hawaii if recruits are to be able to handle all of their job requirements.

There are different fire academies and community colleges across the islands that can provide the right training to get new candidates started.

The Hawaii Fire Department requirements for training are as follows: a 16-week course for a Firefighter I certification and an EMT certification on passing the screenings and tests mentioned above.

Following this, there are also weekly exams, reports and other certifications during the one-year probation period. Additional certifications include the driver competency exam, water safety training amongst others.

The University of Hawaii: The University of Hawaii is a great choice because it offers a comprehensive degree in the heart of the state.

The Fire Science course gives students practical and theoretical knowledge of all the skills they need. There is an emphasis here on training as an EMT and Wildland Suppression specialist as well as the usual modules on fire prevention, strategies and hazardous materials.

The information learned here allows students to move on into employment as long as they continue to meet the standards of their chosen department.

The alternative approach here is to move forward to turn this associate’s degree into a bachelor’s degree in Fire Administration.

This opportunity comes in the form of distance learning through Colorado University after completion of this course. You can learn more about this option here.

UH Maui College:  There are alternative options out there for those that don’t want to focus on such a long degree track. This college has a program that helps students prepare for the firefighter exam.

The idea here is that they offer guidance on some of the main topics and areas of testing, so applicants know just enough to get by.

This is an 80-hour course so just the right length for those that are already working or have other commitments and can’t commit to higher education long-term.

The combination of tutoring and practice tests can give students an advantage later on. Find out more about this option here.

Native Hawaiians In The Fire Service

Another important consideration in Hawaii is the employment opportunities for those that are native to the islands.

The fire departments, as with all government, agencies in Hawaii, should be open to people of all races, genders and religions.

Therefore, there is nothing to stop Native Hawaiians from applying and joining.

However, there is additional help available for those natives that fail to meet the requirements of a department.

The reasons for failure could be down to a lack of physicality, difficulty with comprehension of the questions or a lack of prior experience.

The Papakolea Fire Academy offers support to those in this situation by helping them with their fitness, knowledge and comprehension skills.

This extra boost could help them the next time there is a recruitment effort by the department. The class concentrates on the math and English aspects of the application process, strategies for taking the written test and help with the firefighter interview.

The program is supported by the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement and Hawaiian Council to provide the best service possible for those struggling with the process.

You can find out more by visiting this link.

Major Fire Departments in Hawaii

Once you have passed the application process and have your education on track, you need a role within one of the best fire departments on the islands.

How To Become A Firefighter in Kauai

  • Citizen of Hawaii
  • 2 years work experienced
  • High School Diploma
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Pass the physical medical and agility tests
  • Pass the written test

Many new recruits will appreciate the chance to head to Kauai Fire Department and try their hand at some different roles.

This is a department with eight stations and range of capabilities. The staff here can work in rescue situations, medical response, hazmat situations and more.

These operations occur in residential and business areas in urban environments, out in the countryside with wildland fire suppression and out on the ocean.

How To Become A Firefighter In Honolulu:

  • Citizen of Hawaii
  • 2 years work experienced
  • High School Diploma
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Pass the physical medical and agility tests
  • Pass the written test

The Honolulu fire department is actually one of the largest in the US with a surprising number of stations and crew members for the area.

There are around 1,100 employed over the different divisions, 44 stations and lots of vehicles and apparatus. This even includes two helicopters and 3 rescue boats.

The team works hard to protect all those living and working on the land and water in this district.

Find out more at:

Job Prospects for Firefighters In Hawaii

There is a high demand for firefighters in Hawaii. There is also the fact that each island requires its own experienced crews to handle all kinds of situations.

One interesting factor here is that the salary expectations in Hawaii are quite high in some areas.

The non-metropolitan area of Hawaii/Kauai was the 3rd highest in 2018 for earnings. There were 430 firefighters there at the time with a high employment rate of 4.27 per 1000 jobs.

They received an annual mean wage of $55, 190 and an hourly mean wage of $26.53.

Anyone with the dedication to learn and help others has a chance to become a firefighter in Hawaii. It doesn’t matter what race or gender you are. As long as you are old enough, fit enough and able to handle the skills needed, you can embark on a career in the Hawaii fire service.

All the hard work and training is worth the effort for the opportunities offered, which are unlike those in any other state in the United States.