How To Become A Firefighter In North Carolina

North Carolina is a state that knows how to attract individuals who are interested in how to become a firefighter in North Carolina.

There are community outreach programs, training opportunities and other programs ready to help teenagers make the transition over to their fire department.

This is understandable in a state that has such a strong need for skilled, educated young professionals to help their departments evolve. So how you can get in on this rewarding professional and make your own impact as a firefighter in North Carolina?

How to Become a Firefighter in North Carolina

  • Must be 21 in most areas
  • High school education or higher
  • State driver’s license
  • EMT training advised

The requirements to become a firefighter in this state will vary slightly between regions, especially if you choose between becoming a career firefighter and a volunteer firefighter. But, there are many of the same expectations when it comes to the training requirements.

In this guide, I want to highlight some of the requirements, training opportunities, fire academies and departments in the state. I will also look at some of the different risks that firefighters face here in the cities, rural areas and on the coast.

Firefighting in North Carolina

There are lots of ways to enter the fire service if you are the right age. Below I will talk about some of the recruitment training and college options for those that have left high school. But, North Carolina is eager to promote the job to those that aren’t of age.

The Charlotte Fire Department gives out a pamphlet to youngsters interested in the service. The information here is good advice for anyone wanting to serve with any fire department in North Carolina.

Education is essential. All firefighters need a high school diploma or equivalent in order to apply for a position in North Carolina. However, the department here also recommends that teenagers continue with their studies and interests outside the classroom to stay sharp and work on problem-solving skills.

Perhaps more importantly, the department also advises local kids to stay out of trouble. Any mark on their criminal record, even as a juvenile offender, could be enough to fail a background screening.

Therefore, students need to keep a clean driving license, make sure they don’t risk a DUI and stay within the law at all times. This also includes drug use. A little experimentation at a teen could be a problem as you need to be free from illegal drug use for a year with no patterns of use.

Finally, teens are urged to get fit and healthy. The sooner you put in the work the easier it is to meet the requirement for the fitness tests. Strength, stamina, lung capacity, flexibility and more are all tested here. Start a good fitness and diet program.

Also, be aware that North Carolina is one place where state law forbids fire departments from employing those that aren’t part of selective service.

This basically means that men aged between 18 and 26 need to sign up to the service if they want to serve their community too. This might not be an issue for you as you may well have signed up when you turned 18. If you are under 18 and looking at your prospects, it is important to keep this in mind.

Firefighters in North Carolina need to be prepared for major weather events along its coast. Florida is the state that often most the most headlines when it comes to major weather events and storms. However, North Carolina sees its fair share of the damage.

Storms batter their way up the Eastern seaboard and cause a lot of damage here. Any fire department on the coast of the state needs to be prepared for the calls that will come in during and immediately after a hurricane.

On the other side of North Carolina lies the Blue Ridge Mountains and some of the beautiful national parks within the state. The Great Smoky Mountains park is one of the most popular and will always attract tourists and hikers because of its wildlife and great views.

Firefighters in this region need to know the difference between handling a welcome, managed fire for prescribed burns and handling wildfires caused by people or the weather.

Wildland management teams and the national park service will work together to ensure that controlled burns don’t endanger life or property. They will also be careful to ensure that visitors understand the dangers and promote fire safety.

It isn’t just the risk of fire that is a big concern out there. Fire departments in the rural part of North Carolina will also need to be trained in medical assistance and rescue techniques. EMT training is essential because a volunteer fire crew may be the first on-hand in emergencies on the roads or in remote areas. Specialist teams can also train for rope access, water rescue and other skills that are essential out here in the country.

Fire Academies in North Carolina

North Carolina has a number of colleges across the state providing vocational training in fire sciences. The following is a list of some of the community and technical colleges. You can choose by location or by the style and length of the course.

Buncombe Technical College has an Emergency Services Division that provides training and courses in three areas – fire, police and medical science. Students can take a curriculum program with the aim of gaining a degree or a continuing education program that builds towards state certification.

The former includes an associate degree or certificate in Fire Protection Technology. The latter includes certification classes that help with Firefighter 1 and 2 certificates.

The college’s EMS center could also be a great place for students to learn more about first aid and gain their essential EMT training. Learn more here.

The University of North Carolina offers a bachelor’s degree in Fire and Safety Engineering Technology. One of the perks about studying here is that there are choices over the way you learn.

There is a traditional campus approach for those that want the full university experience. But, there are also options with transfers, distance learning and other approaches. This flexibility allows prospective firefighters to train with ease. You can learn more here.

Major Fire Departments in North Carolina

The following is a list of major fire departments in North Carolina.  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 North Carolina.

How to Become a Charlotte, NC Firefighter

  • Must be 21 in most areas
  • High school education or higher
  • State driver’s license
  • EMT training advised

I have to start by mentioning Charlotte as it is one of the largest in the state. The team here covers a wide jurisdiction on 300 square miles, which means the city itself and neighboring communities in Mecklenburg County.

It does so via 42 stations to help more than 800,000 people with fire prevention, suppression, medical emergencies, accident relief and other needs. They have specialist divisions in urban search and rescue, hazardous materials and domestic preparedness. Find out more about the Charlotte Fire Department here.

How to Become a Beaufort, NC Firefighter

  • Must be 21 in most areas
  • High school education or higher
  • State driver’s license
  • EMT training advised

Beaufort is one of the smaller departments in the state of North Carolina that is prepared to handle the worst that the weather can offer. This smaller town is in a great location when the weather is good because of its place on the Eastern coastline. However, they know that storms can hit hard. That is why storm preparedness, community outreach and other prevention services are so important here.

This small combination department accepts applications for volunteers and career firefighters to handle these incidents as well as fires, accidents and medical emergencies. In fact, they talk about the growing demand for services and volunteers in the area. You can find out more here.

Job Prospects for Firefighters in North Carolina

As of 2018, North Carolina has the second-highest concentration of jobs and location quotients. There is a quotient of 1.53 and 3.39 jobs per 1000 people. At the time, there were 14,870 firefighters employed across the state.

The mean annual wage for firefighters in North Carolina is $35,500.

This is very similar to those down in South Carolina but much lower than the $51,510 per year earned in the same period up in Virginia.

There are a lot of firefighters in North Carolina carrying out very dangerous work in many different settings. Anyone that has the drive, perseverance and is interested in learning how to become a firefighter in North Carolina will be able to join the fire service.

It does take a lot of hard work as there are many calls of varying degrees of severity. You also need to be prepared to learn about new strategies and equipment depending on your role.

North Carolina has its challenges, but those challenges are also rewarding when working in these friendly communities. Make the most of that to create a fulfilling career you can be proud of.