How To Become A Firefighter In Missouri

Missouri is a state that has an increasing need for skilled firefighters which leaves many asking how to become a firefighter in Missouri.

Some departments don’t have the same regulations and standards as those in neighboring states. But, there is still a demand for the very best to help growing city populations.

Missouri firefighters need to be prepared to train and learn – no matter what the rules say. There are too many circumstances and risks where knowledge and specialist equipment are essential. So, how can you become one of these firefighters in Missouri?

How to Become a Firefighter in Missouri

  • Minimum age of 18, but be aware of upper age restrictions
  • Must have a valid state driver’s license and residency
  • Physically and mentally fit
  • High school diploma or GED
  • No regulation for Firefighter 1 or EMT training at entry level

As you can see, the minimum requirements here are pretty straightforward. One of the great things about this state is that they are open to hiring many different applicants as long as they go on to work and study hard.

Below I will talk about the training requirements and recommendations for this state, as well as some of the major departments. Before that, I want to highlight some aspects of the hiring process and some of the unique risks of being a firefighter in Missouri.

Firefighting in Missouri

Most departments in Missouri will use very similar screening and firefighter interview processes when hiring firefighters.

Typically, this means interviews with officers as well as a chief’s interview, background checks on criminal activity and medical testing. The main aim here is to ensure that you have the right character, mentality and fitness to perform to the department’s standards.

Once you prove this and pass this portion of the process, you can then move onto recruit training and a probation period.

One thing to keep in mind here if you are applying in Springfield is that they are apt to highlight their tattoo policy. Policies on tattoos are controversial right now and vary between department.

Some still don’t like firefighters to have visible tattoos because of public perception. This is the case here. So, if you have tattoos on your arms or neck you may have to wear long sleeves or bandages on duty.

Preparedness for extreme disasters and weather events is a must in Missouri, especially for all those living and working near St Louis.

Missouri sits within Tornado Alley and while major events are infrequent, they can be catastrophic. There was an EF4 level event at the Lambery-St Loius International Airport in 2011.

The same year, 159 people died and one third of Joplin was destroyed. It is up to Missouri firefighters to pick up the pieces – literally and figuratively.

They are the ones to help the people left behind in the debris. It takes a lot of knowledge to handle the damaged buildings and any contamination risks. It also takes a lot of strength and good character to help the communities.

Another risk factor here is that around 55% of the entire state population lives within these major metropolitan areas. that’s a lot of lives at risk if another tornado or other major disaster were to occur.

The largest by far are Kansas City and St Louis, with around 489,000 and 309,000 residents respectively. However, the wider metropolitan area of St. Louis now contains 2.91 million.

Fire Academies in Missouri

Before I mention some of the training facilities and fire academies that are available in Missouri, it is important to note that Missouri doesn’t see certification as mandatory. This is uncommon these days, but it does mean that you can start working as a firefighter a lot sooner.

Despite this, all certification is recommended so that you have the same level of training as everyone else. It ensures cohesion and professionalism in a range of jobs.

Thankfully, the state Division of Fire Safety has now awarded around 95,000 certificates to more than 36,000 Missouri firefighters.

Crowder is one of many smaller colleges to work with fire departments and provide fire training in a classroom environment.

Last year, the college received a grant from the state division of fire safety to hold classes for regional firefighters. This means that there are now various locations in Ozark area where trainees can learn skills for specific pieces of equipment, rope rescue and instructor training.

The school will also provide tuition for Firefighter I and II courses. This accessibility is important in a state that has a growing demand for personnel. Find out more here.

Missouri State University offers a higher education program in Fire and Emergency Services. There is a series of courses on offer via online access that cover a range of disciplines.

Each subject should help you gain skills and knowledge for a career in management and advance your position. They include topics on administration, politics, personnel management, fire research, community risks and legal issues.

Those that complete 4 of these courses can walk away with a certificate. Those that go on to complete 6 can earn their minor. It is then up to you whether you want to take this further with a full degree or a different role in the fire service. You can find out more here.

Major Fire Departments in Missouri

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

How to Become a St. Louis, MO Firefighter

  • Minimum age of 18, but be aware of upper age restrictions
  • Must have a valid state driver’s license and residency
  • Physically and mentally fit
  • High school diploma or GED
  • No regulation for Firefighter 1 or EMT training at entry level

I have to start with St Louis because it is such a large city and such an important hub in Missouri. There is a very dense population of around 320,000 residents within 62 square miles. That means that there is a high risk of calls for fires, accidents and medical emergencies.

This risk rises significantly when we factor in all the extra people commuting into the city for work every day. The department here is the second oldest in the US and strives to maintain high standards to protect its citizens.

To do this, fire departments have access to specialist equipment from a range of divisions. There is a dedicated crew for the aircraft rescue at Lambert-St. Louis International, a trench and collapse team and also a Marine Operations team. The latter are on stand-by on the Mississippi to help with incidents on the water.

The requirements to become a firefighter in St Louis are fairly straightforward in terms of what to expect.

They want people that can pass all the usual written tests and physical tests, as well as all the background and medical screening. Those that do so must achieve their Firefighter I and II Certificates and their EMT certificate following a 16-week course at the Fire Academy.

One obstacle to be aware of here is that the city only wants people between the ages of 18 and 33. This will be a blow for those in their mid-thirties unless you have military experience with an honorable discharge. You can find out more about their process here.

How to Become a Branson, MO Firefighter

  • Minimum age of 18, but be aware of upper age restrictions
  • Must have a valid state driver’s license and residency
  • Physically and mentally fit
  • High school diploma or GED
  • No regulation for Firefighter 1 or EMT training at entry level

We should also look at some of the smaller departments in the state to see how they compare. Branson has three stations and 36 personnel in the operations division.

They took 4,500 calls in 2018 and are training to handle medical emergencies, structural collapse, water rescue, hazardous materials and more. The city is also a “storm ready community”, which means that it is ready to handle the worst possible weather.

This was largely achieved by the connection to the local community. Residents know how to stay safe and the crew will respond appropriately.  Learn more at this link

How to Become a Mid-County Fire Protection District Firefighter

  • Minimum age of 18, but be aware of upper age restrictions
  • Must have a valid state driver’s license and residency
  • Physically and mentally fit
  • High school diploma or GED
  • No regulation for Firefighter 1 or EMT training at entry level

This department is one on the rise having recently taken responsibility for handling calls in the city of Camdenton. This means that they operate over a vast area of 227 square miles from six stations.

The distance requires firefighters to be efficient and ready to handle lots of different calls that can happen within the area. For example, they have specialist equipment for dive teams, fireboats, EMS trucks and more. The majority of the team here are volunteer firefighters but there are also paid roles available for career firefighters. You can learn more here.

Job Prospects for Firefighters in Missouri

Missouri firefighters often fair a little better than their counterparts in neighboring western states. There are higher employment rates and, in 2018, there were 6,500 with a ratio of 2.32 jobs.

At the time, the annual mean wage was $51,000 for firefighters in Missouri.

When we compare this Kansas, we see a big drop down to $37,930 per year.

There are lots of perks to learning how to become a firefighter in Missouri. There are few limitations to stop eager new applicants from getting started – and this applies to the training and certification requirements too.

New recruits can start at the very bottom and work their way up to learn more disciplines and improve their skills. There is also a fair wage and good job opportunities for doing so. Missouri has its fair share of challenges, but this only makes the job all the more rewarding.