How To Become A Firefighter In Indiana

Indiana is a state that draws in lots of residents, businesses and tourists .  Not surprisingly, how to become a firefighter in Indiana is a questions I’ve received several times.

Indiana’s vibrant culture would not be possible without the support of emergency services. Highly-skilled fire personnel are essential for the well-being of all those within the state and they will always need a career or volunteer crew. So, how can you become a firefighter in the state of Indiana?

How to Become A Firefighter in Indiana

  • 18 years old for volunteers and often 21 for career
  • Valid proof of residency and state driver’s license
  • High school education with commitment to further studies
  • EMT trained preferable

There is a lot to consider when looking into how to become a firefighter in Indiana. As you will see, you can’t always assume that you will be able to join up straight out of high-school.

This is where it helps to get a more formal education and training. Below I will talk more about these training options, some of the major departments in Indiana and the hiring process of the state’s biggest employer of firefighters.

Firefighting in Indiana

I want to focus on the hiring process of Indiana’s capital because it is such a massive department that draws many applicants. The city is the largest by far and will appeal to those in more rural areas looking for a challenging career role.

However, Indianapolis is one of the toughest places to become a firefighter because there are so many demands and requirements placed upon its applicants.

The age limit of 21 – 36 for non-military veterans is one of the narrowest in the US.  You can see the hiring process in more detail here. But, I want to cover the basics as many points will apply to other departments too.

If you are lucky enough to get through the first stage of the application process, there is then the long series of firefighter interviews and screenings. Indianapolis officials need to be sure they have suitable recruits with the right mindset, physicality and character.

It starts with a short oral interview and written test. The official website talks about a “mental exam”, which is essentially another name for a psychological screening.

There is also a fingerprint check in the background screening to flag up any past criminal activity or issues with your driving history.

On the physical side of the tests there is a medical exam to determine health issues and limitations, a test of physical ability in the CPAT and an aerial climb. The latter is determined by time. If you can’t climb with speed and ease, you won’t progress in the process.

Even when all of these tests are over, there is still a long training process. Everyone has to attend the city’s fire training academy. This means long days starting at 6:30 am for 25 weeks.

But, this intensity is necessary for recruits to learn everything to need to know about working in the city. This means lessons on strategies for dealing with fires, hazardous materials, extraction from buildings and vehicles and various types equipment. You will be paid during this time.

Other considerations when becoming a firefighter in Indiana.

It is easy to focus in on Indianapolis when looking at the potential job prospects and training options because it is the center of the state. There are other major cities and towns, but the capital is home to so many residents and brings in so much tourism and industry.

Away from the middle of the state, there are lots of smaller communities and rural areas that need their own fire department. These departments must run to the same standards as those in Indianapolis, even if they are volunteer fire departments.

Out in the countryside, fire departments need to be prepared for their fair share of medical emergencies, vehicular accidents and wildland fires.

Then there are the national parks like Indiana Dunes. This area is a popular destination because it offers the only small piece of coastline that Indiana gets. Firefighters here need to be prepared to handle all kinds of issues on the dunes and in the water.

Fire Academies in Indiana

The lower age limit of 21 means that there is a bit of a gap between leaving high school and getting the chance to apply. Anyone that is certain about joining the fire service in Indiana is encouraged to make good use of this time through work experience and training.

You may choose to apply to be a volunteer firefighter somewhere, earn a college degree for academic experience or attend a traditional fire academy.

Harrison College has created a program in partnership with the Fire Department Training Network to help students within Indianapolis.

The aim here is to provide a solid education in fire safety and good practice so that new firefighters are better prepared for the job.

This intensive Fire Department Training Institute offers an Associate Applied Sciences Degree in Fireground Operations. The course consists of a range of modules in fire prevention and suppression to help create effective crew members with no superfluous information.

The no-nonsense strategy should work well for those that are more eager to be out in the field than inside a classroom. You can find out more about this program here.

Over at Vincennes University, the team of expert tutors have created their own Associate degree program in Fire Science and Safety Technology.

The aim here is to look at different ways that fire behaves and its impact on different structures and situations. There are practical skills about behavior, suppression strategies, smoke containment and fire spread. There are also modules on dealing with emergencies in confined spaces, below ground, within transportation and more.

Students will also learn about more advanced subjects regarding the law, investigation and crime scene evidence. The combination of skills here can help students progress in their career. Learn more about the program and institution here.

Major Fire Departments in Indiana

The following is a list of major fire departments in Indiana.  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 Indiana.

How to Become an Indianapolis Firefighter

  • 18 years old for volunteers and often 21 for career
  • Valid proof of residency and state driver’s license
  • High school education with commitment to further studies
  • EMT trained preferable

As I have spent so long talking about the hiring process in Indianapolis, we need to look at their department and opportunities.

There are 21 divisions and 43 stations in this extensive fire department. This includes a Special Ops center that handles specialist disciplines like dive rescues, urban search and rescue, hazardous materials and vehicle extraction.

There is also a Task Force to handle any human or natural disaster in the area. Therefore, this is a great place for those that want to pursue a long career and branch out to other specializations in the future. You can find out more here.

How to Become a Bloomington, IN Firefighter

  • 18 years old for volunteers and often 21 for career
  • Valid proof of residency and state driver’s license
  • High school education with commitment to further studies
  • EMT trained preferable

Bloomington is a much smaller city and smaller department but still offers paid roles for 110 employees in 5 stations.

One of the additional challenges here is the chance to support the students and staff at Indiana University and other communities in Monroe County. This means that recruits need to be trained in fire suppression and medical aid but also able to help with fire safety and prevention information in community outreach programs.

The department has its own training division to keep staff up to speed with medical training and other certifications. Learn more about the department here.

How to Become a Zionsville, IN Firefighter

  • 18 years old for volunteers and often 21 for career
  • Valid proof of residency and state driver’s license
  • High school education with commitment to further studies
  • EMT trained preferable

Zionsville has a smaller community feel with a combination department of volunteers, part-time and full-time crew members. The roles and responsibilities are less diverse here and the main focuses are on fire prevention and suppression.

However, there is a focus on public education too. The team take care to advise the public about different aspects of fire safety and to ensure they are a reliable department. This includes training on the use of fire extinguishers and first aid classes.

This is just the sort of department for anyone that wants a quieter department with a community focus. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t relax when training. EMT training and other specializations are always important because you never know what the next call will bring. Learn more here.

Job Prospects for Firefighters in Indiana

Looking at high employment rates by metropolitan area, the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin area of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin was the largest with 13,090 staff and 2.82 jobs per 1000 people.

More generally for Indiana, there were 7,430 employed in 2018 at a rate of 2.44 per 1000 posts.

The annual mean wage for firefighters in Indiana is $49,460.

Pay in Indianapolis increases significantly over the first three years of service as crew members improve on their skills. In 2017, firefighters received First year: $39,446 in year 1, $47,651 in year 2 and $67,519 in year 3.

The main focus here has been Indianapolis because of its influence on the state and its size. But, if you’re interested in learning how to become a firefighter in Indiana, just know many career firefighters that succeed in their training will do well here.

However, there are also smaller towns and communities in need of their own skilled departments, whether paid or volunteer. There are lots of great opportunities to learn and serve in Indiana.