How To Become A Firefighter In Kansas

Kansas is home to many great fire departments; leading many aspiring firefighters to ask how to become a firefighter in Kansas. 

In many ways, Kansas is your stereotypical Midwestern state. It is long been a hive of agricultural activity with a rural approach to life. It is only the 34th most populated state and predominantly lies within the great central plain.

But, this idyllic notion of the range and smaller communities doesn’t minimize the need for a skilled fire department in every town and city. Kansas residents can rely on either a volunteer or career-based fire service to look after the countryside, industry and major residential areas.

How to Become A Firefighter In Kansas

  • 18 years of age
  • High school diploma or GED
  • US citizen
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Pass a background check
  • Pass a physical agility test

The minimum requirements for employment as a firefighter in Kansas are similar to those across the other states of North America.

You need to be able to prove your age and residency when applying, have all the appropriate documentation for your driver’s license and high school education and have a good character.

Different departments will then have their own requirements depending on the role you apply for. Volunteer departments may be a little more lenient on previous experience and training as compared to career departments.

In this article, I will discuss at some of the different requirements for training and education standards for Kansas firefighters. I will also offer some information about some of the fire academies and major fire departments in the state.

I also want to look at some of the specific challenges that Kansas firefighters will face when learning to to be a firefighter in Kansas.

Firefighting in Kansas

It is important to remain reliable and professional at all times when working as a firefighter in any state, and this certainly holds true in Kansas

Most fire departments in Kansas will have tough rules about past incidents of substance abuse. Many will not hire anyone that has struggled with these issues in recent years or that has had a DUI on their criminal record.

This is all understandable given the trust placed in all firefighters that work in this state. The Topeka Fire department goes a little further with even more defined rules and regulations.

They state that no applicant should have a DUI within 5 years of the job offer, no use of any illegal drug within that time frame as well as no use of marijuana within a year.

Education helps ensure that every firefighter can fulfill their role. Some departments have higher expectations than others.

Some volunteer positions will require little other than the high school diploma or GED. Others want the best and brightest for their paid roles.

For example, in Manhattan, all applicants must complete the Fire Service Entrance Exam (FSEE) with no less than 80% or the alternative FireTEAM Ergometric.

This is unusual as many departments in the United States focus on the civil service exam and tend to accept those with 70% or greater.

The exception to the rule in Manhattan is if applicants have a relevant bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.

Challenges facing Kansas firefighters

The landscape of Kansas is always at the mercy of the weather. This means that there is a regular risk of bad weather causing accidents, tornadoes, floods and structural damage to homes and businesses across the state.

Departments need to be able to handle these incidents and coordinate responses to help preserve life and property as best they can.

The better trained their recruits are, the better the chance of controlling the situation with minimal damage. One such situation is the aftermath of a tornado.

Kansas sees the second-highest number of tornadoes per state in the US. Only Texas sees more, yet has a considerably larger landmass.

The devastation of tornadoes can cause issues with power lines, structural damage, entrapment and other dangers. Fire departments and crew members that can work with other departments can help to bring these devastating events under control.

Fire Academies in Kansas

Kansas has many universities and fire academies across the state that offer an education in fire safety and management. Those that do well in these courses can go on into career departments and develop their skills even further.

There are many fire science and technology courses out there that offer a basic introduction to the principles and applications of working in the fire service.

The program at Garden City is a good example of what you can learn, but also how you can apply a college education to your budding career. You can learn more about their program here

Here they offer an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Fire Science.

Their aim is to prepare students for their role in the fire service by developing coursework and practical skills in different areas. This includes fire prevention skills, techniques in rescue and fire control, emergency medical training and other hands-on skills.

There are also opportunities to look into more specialized areas such as Hazmat, Driver Operator and EMT training.

Students can graduate with an Associate in Applied Science degree and then transfer their credits to a course at a 4-year college if required.

Many departments will happily accept those with an associate degree because the skills often relate to basic training and allow them to take Firefighter I and II tests.

The Kansas Fire and Rescue Training Institute does things differently with a “Mobile Fire Academy” concept.

This is meant to provide a more accessible means of training for those in more rural areas or those with scheduling issues. The academy moves around to help anyone across the state at a time that suits them.

The academy offers the same level of training with classes on all kinds of concepts and skills related to firefighting. It offers enough training to allow students to fulfill the requirements to get their Firefighter 1 and Firefighter 2 certificates. There are also options for Firefighter Engineer and Pumper and Aerial modules. You can learn more here.

Finally, there are some departments and academies in Kansas that will provide additional training to those that want to improve their skills in technical rescue training. These short courses can help firefighters learn how to react and help in incidents following a tornado or major storm.

Individuals can learn how to secure buildings that are in danger of collapsing and procure materials from structures that cannot be saved.

The more you know, and better able you are to work with other authorities, the better the outcome for citizens in your area. Talk to local stations or fire academy to see what opportunities are in your area.

Major Fire Departments in Kansas

While there are numerous fire departments in Kansas the following if just 3 of the larger departments in the state.

How to Become A Topeka, KS Firefighter

  • 21 years of age
  • High school diploma (or GED)
  • Resident of Shawnee County, or must relocate within 18 months of employment
  • Valid Kansas driver’s license
  • U.S. Citizen
  • No other driving violations that would fall within the City Vehicle Policy insurability guidelines prior to conditional job offering or hiring
  • A valid, current Kansas Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT), Paramedic certification or National Registry equivalent is required to apply

Many aspiring firefighters interested in learning how to become a firefighter in Kansas would love the opportunity to work for the Topeka Fire Department.

There are 12 stations scattered across the city ready to handle a variety of emergency situations, such as highway accidents, house fires and commercial building incidents.

The city also has their own training facility, so it is a good place for new recruits to get a basic education and build on their skills with hands-on experience.

One of the more unusual requirements here is that applicants must be 21 years of age by the date of the test as compared to most fire departments that require 18 or older. You can learn more about the Topeka Fire Department here

How to Become an Overland Park, KS Firefighter

  • 18 years of age
  • High school diploma or GED
  • US citizen
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Pass a background check
  • Pass a physical agility test

Topeka may be the capital of Kansas, but the population is in decline. This isn’t the case over in Overland Park.

This just outside of Kansas City is expanding rapidly. It is now the second-most populous city in Kansas with many major companies flocking here.

An ever-expanding infrastructure, density of large buildings and population all means a growing need for fire service coverage.

There has been a fire department here for over 100 years, but it is now more important than ever. There are 5 stations and a training facility. Learn more here.

How to Become a Manhattan, KS Firefighter

  • 18 years of age
  • High school diploma or GED
  • US citizen
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Pass a background check
  • Pass a physical agility test

Finally, after talking about the high expectation levels in Manhattan, we should take a moment to look at their department.

They are a full-time career department, hence the tough criteria, and is split into support, operations and fire prevention divisions.

They also work alongside emergency medical services so EMT training is a must here. Those that join the Manhattan Fire Department are encouraged to continue with their medical training to increase their value to the department and community.

Job Prospects for Kansas Firefighters

Firefighter vacancies are always going to create a lot of competition from qualified candidates. However, residents here can perhaps be a little more optimistic because of recent stats from 2018.

Looking at high employment rates in non-metropolitan area, the highest was Kansas with 1,570 crew members employed and 3.99 placements per 1000 jobs.

The only downside here is that there was a much lower mean wage than the highest metropolitan areas with $32,140 annually and $15.45 hourly.

If you interested in knowing how to become a firefighter in Kansas, just know the departments here offer a lot of opportunities for new recruits to join the fire service.

There are departments across the state’s great plains and cities that offer a range of positions with quite minimal requirements. If you are prepared to put in the hard work and continue with more specialized training, you can help your local community in many ways and thrive in growing departments.