How To Become A Firefighter In Maine

Maine is often overlooked, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of people asking how to become a firefighter in Maine.

The focus for economic development, population growth and tourism tend to center a little further south while Maine remains the cold, remote Northern tip of the main body of America.

Just because it is quiet and rural, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need plenty of well-trained firefighters. So, how can you help out these different communities as a firefighter in Maine?

How to Become a Firefighter in Maine

  • At least 18 years old
  • Maine resident with valid state license
  • Physically and mentally fit
  • High school education or equivalent
  • EMT certificate recommended

The minimum requirements in this state are pretty simple. It doesn’t take much other than the right proof of age and residency to get started.

But, regular training and a good attitude are essential here because of the different challenges that firefighters have to face. Rural populations don’t always mean that it’s any easier. There are lots of specializations in firefighting that can help you protect these areas, as well as the major cities.

Below, I will talk about some of these challenges and that need for appropriate training. I will also look at the training options in Maine and some of the departments.

Firefighting in Maine

In 2010, Maine was classified as the most rural state as only 38.7% of the population lived within urban areas. This can pose challenges for rural fire departments that may struggle to get the resources to look after this population and to respond in time.

Small departments with wide jurisdictions can struggle with response times as compared to densely packed cities with multiple stations. There is also the fact that around 80% of the landmass here is covered in forest.

Therefore, it pays to know how to handle wildfire and rescue situations in these forest areas.

In contrast, there are 230 miles of coast in this small state, with lots of marine activity and small coastal communities. Coastal areas are always at risk from bad weather and storm damage.

That being said, firefighters here need to be prepared for floods and property damage. The best firefighters here will have skills in ocean and water rescue, seas searches and storm defenses. Community outreach programs on fire and water safety are also fairly common.

Bi-lingual firefighters in Maine.

There is no requirement from major fire departments for a firefighter in Maine to be bi-lingual.

However, language skills can be helpful when dealing with more remote communities. It always helps to converse with people in a way that is comfortable for them. This can reduce panic and ease communication in an emergency.

Around 5.28% of Maine households in 2010 were French-speaking. This undoubtedly has a link to the state’s northern border with Canada and its history.

Firefighters that can speak French could be at an advantage in these regions. If your high-school French is a little rusty, it might not hurt to take a few refresher courses.

Fire Academies in Maine

If you want a more academic approach than a typical fire academy experience, the Eastern Maine Community College has a great opportunity for students.

Their Fire Science Technology program is a two-year associate degree program that preps students for the vocation.

In the first year, you will learn the basics of handling fires and emergencies. The second year looks more at leadership skills and other advanced strategies. Those that take the one-year certificate can still progress into Firefighter I and II certification.

One of the perks of studying here is that there is a Live-In Student Firefighter program on a limited basis.

This allows students rent-free accommodation as they train within a local firehouse. They gain first-hand experience, work on calls and get guidance from those on the department.

Those that take part tend to have a higher success rate in school because of these benefits. But, you do need to pass an interview and pre-service training first. Find out more here.

The Maine Fire Service Institute:

The MFSI is an important organization that works to help firefighters across Maine obtain the skills that they need.

They can help prep newcomers, so they are able to progress onto their examinations for Firefighter I and II.

Without this, you can’t develop your career within the fire service or move onto those other disciplines like wildland training or water rescue. One of the benefits of this program is that they can send instructors to smaller departments for improved accessibility.

Major Fire Departments in Maine

Looking at some of the points raised so far in this guide, you would be forgiven for thinking that there are few issues to contend with and only a few major departments.

However, there is a wide spectrum with some really small volunteer departments and the bigger divisions in the cities.

How to Become a Portland, ME Firefighter

  • At least 18 years old
  • Maine resident with valid state license
  • Physically and mentally fit
  • High school education or equivalent
  • EMT certificate recommended

Don’t underestimate the responsibilities that firefighters have in Portland. For a “major” city, Portland isn’t very big at all.

There are around 30 square miles in the jurisdiction with a resident population of 68,000 people.

However, that number more than doubles during the day as Maine citizens commute into the city to work. Therefore, there are lots of threats of fire in commercial buildings, vehicle accidents on the highways into Portland and other risks.

The department is also responsible for looking after everything that travels and works around the seaport and the airport.

This means a need for specialist operations over different divisions. Firefighter in Maine that want a busy schedule with a range of calls should look at applying here. More information is available here.

The firefighter hiring process in Portland, ME

The hiring and general application process in the city of Portland give us a good idea of what to expect if you’re interested in learning how to become a firefighter in Maine.

It is interesting that they put “good character” as their number one point before experience and education. This relates to your criminal background but also your moral character.

They want to bring on people that are responsible, professional and able to make the right decision for their communities. It is all about the duty of care for Maine residents. You can always build on education and training as you work.

Having said that, there are still rules about education and experience levels with a need for a high school diploma or equivalent. They say that certification in Firefighter I and II is desirable.

However, some departments will allow you to obtain this as a recruit on a conditional employment offer. There is also the insistence that all applicants obtain their Paramedic license before joining if they want a Firefighter/Paramedic role. Otherwise, EMT training is still recommended.

There are the rules on the health and fitness of applicants. Good fitness is important to be able to carry out all your roles and to handle all the equipment.

Therefore, you need to pass both a medical examination and a fitness test. The CPAT test is fairly standard for all states and tests applicants strength, fitness and general abilities.

Different departments may have their own rules on passing grades here. You can learn more about the Maine hiring process here.

How to Become a Farmington, ME Firefighter

  • At least 18 years old
  • Maine resident with valid state license
  • Physically and mentally fit
  • High school education or equivalent
  • EMT certificate recommended

Then there is Farmington. The Farmington fire department may have only 29 active members to handle a small area, but they are highly skilled and expect the same from new recruits.

They are available to handle anything from vehicle extractions after accidents and major fires to snowmobile rescues and swift water rescue. Anyone that works here is in for a varied and long education in order to keep up and to use tech like their Hazmat trailer and their Gator.

You can find out more about the various roles and responsibilities here.

Job Prospects for Firefighters in Maine

As of 2018, Maine had the fourth-highest concentration of jobs and location quotients in the US.

There was a quotient of 1.50 and 3.32 jobs per 1000 people. But the population size of Maine means that this is just 2,010 firefighters. Compare this to other New England states and you see that the much smaller Massachusetts had 11,640 firefighters with a similar ratio.

Massachusetts also had a much higher annual wage of $60,080 compared to Maine’s $36,750.

If you’re interested in learning how to become a firefighter in Maine, you should be ready to put in a lot of work. It takes hard work, persistence and on-going commitment to train to be the best here.

Rural firefighters need the character and drive to help every remote community and to handle forest fire and water rescue.

Urban firefighters need specialized skills to handle all the medical emergencies, fires and accidents that can occur. Take advantages of the best training programs and see why firefighting in Maine could be a perfect fit for you.