How To Become A Firefighter In Louisiana

The state of Louisiana poses several natural threats to its citizens. How to become a firefighter in Louisiana is a question posed by many aspiring firefighters in the state.

Flood warnings and major storms are a common problem, especially for those living near the delta and major flood plains.

The fire departments in Louisiana have their work cut out to handle major incidents including these floods, fires and other accidents across the state. It takes a good character and a lot of skill to become a qualified firefighter here.

How To Become A Firefighter In Louisiana

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Pass civil service exam and TABE examination
  • Valid driver license
  • Pass a background check

The requirements above are all pretty basic and apply to the majority of applicants looking to start as a firefighter in volunteer and career departments.

But, career departments, especially in major cities, can have far more expectations.

Below I will talk about some of the screening and testing that you might be subjected to in some departments. I will also talk about the training opportunities and some of the bigger city departments in the state.

Screening and testing processes in Louisiana

Screening processes in this state can be a grueling process that requires a lot of patience and a strong character.

Officials in many major fire departments will carry out a range of academic, physical and character tests to see how well candidates perform under pressure.

Following the standard civil service exam, recruits must handle the TABE test.

In a way, this overrides a small portion of the high school diploma requirement because they need to see your current levels of aptitude. You must prove you have 12th grade English and 10th grade math skills.

Then there is an 11 event physical ability test (CPAT) and a long firefighter interview process. During this time there is also drug screening, psychological screening and a background check for any criminal activity.

Some departments are tougher than others with their application process.

A good example of this is Baton Rogue, which likes to employ people with a lot of experience and education qualifications whenever possible.

They need the best and brightest from the start to avoid the need for too much on-the-job training. In this case, the department prefers to see people with a college education.

Therefore, those that have the desire to progress with a career position in this city – or any other major department – may be better off enrolling in a college course.

Also, Monroe requires a score of 75 on the Civil Service Entrance Exam. The standard passing score is 70 so they have much higher expectations for their new recruits.

Another point to raise here is how tough some departments are on physical ability and age.

For example, the Monroe Fire Department says that you have to be above 18 but no older than 37 when submitting your application. They don’t say why 37 is the cut-off age. There does have to be an upper limit on some physically demanding roles.

However, there are plenty of fit, intelligent 37-year-olds in Louisiana that are prepared to put in the training and college education for a change in career.

Firefighting in Louisiana

Firefighters here will have to handle many of the standard emergencies that all new recruits train for. All towns and cities will deal with major emergencies in the form of large fires, vehicle accidents and other life-threatening situations.

In Louisiana, this also means flooding. Flood defense and fire services in Louisiana are a crucial part of the fire service here.

Floods are a common problem in Louisiana and crews must remain on stand-by during times of bad weather. A bad flood can lead to the displacement of communities and evacuation procedures, as well as the need to pump the water out of streets and properties.

Any department in a flood plain must employ staff with the skills to handle this type of situation.  

Fire Academies in Louisiana

Many new recruits will go straight into their firefighter 1 and other essential training programs after passing their recruitment tests.

Others will need to have some basic skills and EMT certification first.

Monroe recruits get to enjoy what the department calls a “vigorous” military style training program for 18 weeks. Training options will depend on your current role and location.

You could train with your department or at a fire academy. There are also colleges across Louisiana that offer higher education in fire science. Associate degrees and other college credits are great in competitive districts where departments favor those with more knowledge.  

The following is a list of fire academies and colleges that offer firefighter training and certifications.

New Orleans students can take part in a Fire Science Technology program at Delgado Community College.

Over at the Fire and Emergency Training Institute in Baton Rouge, there is a more intensive process. The Carrol L. Herring Fire & Emergency Training Institute covers 80 acres of land as part of the LSU campus.

It carries plenty of specialist training equipment to help new students learn about basic fire fighting skills.

There is also advanced technical training for hazardous materials, management skills and more. Options vary from the three-hour classes to the fourteen-week course. You can find out more about this opportunity by checking out this link.

Major Fire Departments in Louisiana

The following is a list of major fire departments in Louisiana and the requirements to apply and join each fire department.

How to Become A New Orleans Firefighter

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Pass civil service exam and TABE examination
  • Valid driver license
  • Pass a background check

I can’t start this section without discussing the most robust city of them all. New Orleans has one of the biggest fire departments in the state of Louisiana because of its population, density and location.

This vibrant city is packed full of residents and tourists and fire crews must be on call at all times to attend emergencies.

This is a city that loves a good carnival and late-night party and these residents and tourists all need round-the-clock protection.

How to Become A Baton Rouge Firefighter

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Pass civil service exam and TABE examination
  • Valid driver license
  • Pass a background check

The Baton Rouge fire department has a great claim to fame in that it was the first-ever to achieve the Class 1 rating.

Since then it has worked hard to maintain these standards and create a skilled, professional department. This isn’t surprising as it is the state capital.

The size of the city means that fire crews here need to look after around 225,370 people in a space of 85.93 square miles.

That is a densely packed area that is at risk of fire and flood. This is a department that will keep new candidates on their toes and set them up for a long career.

Learn more about their operations by following this link.

How to Become A Monroe, LA Firefighter

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Pass civil service exam and TABE examination
  • Valid driver license
  • Pass a background check

Baton Rouge isn’t the only highly-rated department in the state.

Louisiana also boasts enough Class 1 department in Monroe – giving it two of only 46 such departments in the country.

There are numerous divisions here including investigative, operations, prevention and training divisions.

The city may be smaller with around 48,000 people in an area of 32.55 square miles. But, it is home to a great training academy that could be a good place for new applicants to start out.

Learn more about the Monroe Fire Department here.

Job prospects for firefighters in Louisiana

There are pros and cons when looking at the job prospects for firefighters in Louisiana.

On the plus side, there are lots of positions in the state when looking at the number of available jobs. There were 3.25 firefighter jobs per 1000 people in 2018, which meant 6220 employed crew members.

This means large, well-staffed departments across the state that will always be on the lookout for fresh faces.

The downside here is that the average salary doesn’t reflect the amount of work that these firefighters have to deal with.

The mean annual wage here was just $30,600 for 2018.

To put that in a little more context, neighboring firefighters in Texas got an average of $52,520.

Then there is the city of Baton Rogue. This is slightly higher in Baton Rouge where the starting salary is currently set at $31,626 annually.

All new recruits should be aware that there is the potential for an additional $6,000 each year from the State of Louisiana.

This is a significant bonus for firefighters here and it shows how valued they are.

However, this is only available when recruits finish all of their training and probationary periods.

In short, if you’re wondering how to become a firefighter in Louisiana, the hard work and strong expectations never diminish when you start your career here.

The initial application process is long as departments do their best to pick the best candidates and weed out those with unfavorable characteristics.

Once you make the cut, there is a lot of training ahead of you. It is important to learn as many skills as possible to progress with your career here and succeed in the department.

This means advanced knowledge of fire rescue and prevention but also work with flood emergencies.

Thankfully, there are lots of accredited colleges and fire academies to help you on this journey. Life as a Louisiana firefighter isn’t easy, but it is sure to be rewarding.