I was recently speaking to a young man from New Hampshire who asked, how to become a firefighter in New Hampshire. Many citizens that want to help their communities will join the fire service on a voluntary, on-call basis.
This is a great approach for small rural communities that need coverage and applicants that don’t want a full-time career.
The alternative is to push forward with training and education to become one of a smaller number of career firefighters in the state.
The latter takes a lot of effort and dedication. But, the rewards are great for those that succeed.
There are several steps and requirements in place for those that want to turn firefighting into a full-time career and join a department. I want to take some time to go through them here before talking about them in more detail.
New applicants must be:
- 18 years or older
- Able to obtain a firefighter certification
- Pass the CPAT or other physical agility test
- Valid driver’s license
- No criminal convictions
- Qualified with appropriate medical training
Once applicants are accepted into their firefighting studies, the hard work really begins. Recruits looking for a career position must then pass:
- Firefighter 1 training
- State entrance exam
- Firefighter 2 training
If you’re not sure what all is involved with a firefighter 1 and 2 certification I wrote an extensive article on what you can expect (link leads to article on our website).
This is a lot of work in a short space of time. However, those that pass can progress far in their career.
There is a lot of competition for career posts and I will talk more about job prospects at the end.
Before that, I want to go into more detail about the and the training options available and what you can expect whether you choose to be volunteer or career.
The Difference Between Volunteer and Career Firefighting In New Hampshire
Before we look at the qualifications needed to become a firefighter in New Hampshire, it is important to note that formal training is not a requirement in all departments.
There are state requirements for full-time/career firefighters in New Hampshire to achieve specific levels of qualification. However, approximately 80% of departments in the state are part-time or volunteer services.
That means minimal requirements on residency, age, physical fitness and driving qualifications.
As long as you are fit, live within a mile of the town and a good character you have a good chance of getting hired.
However, formal Firefighter I status is recommended in these posts purely for the safety and effectiveness of the station. Many volunteers will receive their training on the job.
If you do plan to turn firefighting into a career in New Hampshire, there are a lot of considerations to keep in mind.
The state standards are high and there are a lot of exams and steps before you even begin. As with most state departments, all applicants must be 18 years old or older with a high school diploma, good physical fitness and a valid driver’s license.
An interesting feature of the physical is an acrophobia (fear of heights) test to see what recruits are like climbing ladders.
There will also be a pre-employment physical to make sure that you are healthy enough for the job. The department will also perform a background checks on your criminal record, as there is usually no tolerance for anyone with a felony conviction.
The Oral Interview
The firefighter interview isn’t something that most applicants look forward to. (If that’s something you would struggle with we have a huge resource of 51 firefighter interview questions and answers. Link takes you to the article on our site).
Written tests are fairly easy to study for and don’t always create the same feeling of pressure.
The interview is different than any other job interview you’ve had, and quite honestly where most candidates either win or lose the job. To become a firefighter in New Hampshire you must be able to pass the interview.
Can you express why you are the best candidate for the job in a clear, confident manner that will help you work within the department?
Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Training in New Hampshire
This medical training means that departments have crew members that can perform first aid and crucial first responder duties in a crisis.
If you don’t yet have any of these certifications, the New Hampshire Fire Academy does offer this option.
There are also courses at other institutions across the state. This is the bare minimum to help you get your foot in the door.
Many career New Hampshire fire departments will expect recruits to gain these additional skills.
Firefighter Academies In New Hampshire
The New Hampshire Fire Academy in Concord is the best place to start when looking for basic training, medical training and state entrance exams.
Other departments and centers across the state may also offer services so it is a good idea to look at options in your town or local area.
Another great academic resource in New Hampshire is the Lakes Region Community College situated in Laconia.
This college offers a range of courses related to the profession, including a Fire Science Associates Degree. This qualification may help you compete with other applicants in terms of knowledge and dedication to the profession.
You can find more information about both centers below:
The NH Department of Safety site also provides information on different divisions and the Fire Marshal.
How to Apply for Training at The New Hampshire Fire Academy
The state academy carries out entrance exams at different times across the year.
Those interested in training and taking part must print out the application form found on the academy’s website.
They will then go through all of the applicants for a given class and perform the basic checks discussed above. Those that seem like a good fit will progress.
It may also be possible to apply via your local fire department as some hold their own exams.
New applicants are advised to contact their local station for more information on the process and vacancies. This will show some initiative and may help you to stand out.
Firefighter II Certification in New Hampshire
An interesting requirement to keep in mind here is that the state also expects new recruits to complete their Firefighter II training within 12 months of joining their new station.
This highlights the importance of bringing the most dedicated and skilled personnel into the fire service.
Therefore, it helps to show that you are willing to learn and put your time and effort into any additional programs.
That Firefighter II training will commence shortly after joining while you are a full-time crew member. This means you will need to commit to the studies while building on what you learned at the Fire Academy.
Major Fire Departments in New Hampshire.
How To Become A Rochester, NH Firefighter
- 18 years of age
- High School diploma or GED
- Completion of the State of NH eligibility exam and CPAT certification
- New Hampshire certified Firefighter II qualification
- An emergency medical technician qualification
- A valid state driver’s license
The size of Rochester means that the city needs a lot of staff to cover their services. There are currently 51 members serving Rochester, East Rochester and Gonic.
Two of those are manned 24 hours and the whole department relies on both career and on-call members.
The department is responsible for 30,000 residents across 45 square miles.
The range of operations, including the forestry unit, and the work with city schools makes Rochester a great career choice.
You can learn more at the Rochester Fire Department website.
How To Become A Nashua, NH Firefighter
- 18 years or over
- High school diploma or GED
- Firefighter II training
- Completion of entrance examination
- National Registry EMT, CPR and CPAT certifications
- Valid driver’s license.
The Nashua Fire Department is stays busy due of its proximity to Route 3 and the Nashua Airport.
The department needs to be stand-by at all times to deal with major fires and accidents that may occur in these critical transportation links.
The city itself is a fair size with 36 square miles of buildings and approximately 87,000 residents. The high percentage of factories and mill buildings poses a challenge for firefighters in the form of large-scale industrial fires and hazardous material incidents.
Therefore, this is a great department for those that want to be a part of a crew with a diverse set of skills.
Job Prospects For Firefighters In New Hampshire
As I mentioned above, the majority of the firefighters in New Hampshire are volunteer. This means that when a department is hiring there will be a lot of competition for jobs.
It is much easier to get onto a department as a part-timer than as a career fireman.
Recent statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows high employment rates of 3.27 firefighters per 1000 people and 2,130 employed across the state.
The mean annual salary of a firefighter in New Hampshire is $48,640.
Anyone interested in becoming a firefighter in New Hampshire should check out the Employment Opportunities page in the Fire Standards and Training section of the government website.
This page posts current vacancies across different departments and stations in the area with links to their flyers.
Alternatively, you can contact local stations directly to find out what positions are available. Qualified applicants can email the department directly about applications and requests.
It is a lot easier to find a position as a volunteer firefighter in New Hampshire than a career one. Volunteers don’t have nearly as much training nor requirements to sign up and serve.
There are also many more positions because of the split between the stations.
But, that doesn’t mean that if you want to become a firefighter in New Hampshire you should give up on being a career firefighter.
There are major departments with demanding roles that will only take on the very best. If you are committed to the training and pass all the tests, you could enjoy a long and successful career.