How To Become A Firefighter In North Dakota


how to become a firefighter in north dakota

If you’re wondering how to become a firefighter in North Dakota, you’re not alone. You can travel through vast state parks and rural landscapes into cities and out to remote settlements.

On one side there is lush forest and the other oil reserves. This means that each fire department in the state has its own focus and training needs.

How to Become a Firefighter in North Dakota

  • 18 years old
  • North Dakota resident
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Appropriate academic qualifications for the department
  • EMT training
  • Good physical and mental health

The basic requirements for becoming a North Dakota firefighter aren’t that strict and many new applicants do have a great opportunity to begin their careers here.

However, individual departments can have their own policies for the hiring process and some of the educational requirements. This can become a concern when we look at the training options in the state.

In this guide, I will look at the issues regarding a formal firefighting education. I also want to talk about some of the challenges and training requirements by landscape and their associated departments.

Firefighting in North Dakota

The role of a firefighter often depends on the landscape and industry within their jurisdiction. Those that work within the larger cities will have larger populations of residents and more properties to care for.

Those out in the country will have to handle rural concerns and possibly some situations within national parks. We can’t forget that one of the most popular landmarks in America lies within this bounds of North Dakota.

There are also major rivers running through the state that can be prone to flooding. This is where fire departments must have the water training and emergency training to deal with all those trapped by, or in the water.

Many people come to visit the state’s forests so that they can get away from the stresses and strains of city life in other states. Fire is inevitable because of lightning strikes and the carelessness of visitors.

The state is home to the stunning Theodore Roosevelt National Park further west.

This national park draws in thousands of visitors that will enjoy the trails and facilities with their families. Some may be careless with a lit cigarette or a campfire. This can unfortunately lead to human-related wildland fires.

These incidents require the help of skilled wildland firefighter to extinguish or redirect the fire away from people and property. There are other incidents of a naturally-occurring wildfire that needs to be left to burn in a controlled manner to help the life-cycle and health of the park.

Trained professionals can guide the flames in the right direction and create long-term management plans with forestry officials. You can learn more about this program here.

Then there are the oil fields of North Dakota. The northwestern region of the state is home to the oil boom with intense industry and exports. It was the second-largest oil producer in the US as of 2012 with more than 575,000 barrels every day.

This led to massive growth in communities like Stanley, Tioga, Williston and Minot-Burlington. Each community needs firefighters that can handle the emergencies and materials involved if there was a major fire or other incidents here.

Fire Academies in North Dakota

One of the biggest disadvantages to training as a North Dakota firefighter is that there aren’t the same training opportunities and resources available. Most states will have some form of official degree program available at a fire academy or state university. However, this isn’t the case in North Dakota.

Thankfully, there is help available to those that need it. The North Dakota Firefighter’s Association does what it can to fill the void and provide training to firefighters in the state.

The downside is that they are a volunteer, non-profit organization, which means that training opportunities and resources are limited. There isn’t the same classroom environment as a state school and its associate degree.

The plus side is that they are very knowledgeable and accommodating to those that want to learn.

Departments can contact them via their website to schedule classes on different subjects. This way the group can come to a department and help to train new recruits more easily.

This includes some of the basic firefighter skills for Firefighter I and more specialist courses on equipment, fire strategies and other techniques.

They take their information from the Essentials of Firefighting class held at the State Fire School. You can learn more by following this link.

An alternative to the State Fire School and the Firefighter Association courses is to work on a degree course online.

There are major colleges and universities across other states that provide online education and remote tutoring on fire technology and fire science subjects.

This might be a better option for those that are new to firefighting but know they want a long and prosperous career.

A college education can help you to stand out from other applicants when applying for career positions at any of the departments below.

This is certainly the case up in Fargo. Here they often show preference to those that go beyond the standard Firefighter II certification. If you are interested in a career position and further training in Fargo, an associate degree is a great place to start.

Major Fire Departments in North Dakota

While the number of firefighters and departments in North Dakota may be less than other states, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t great departments to work for.  Below is a list of some of the major fire departments in North Dakota.

How to Become A Williston, ND Firefighter

  • 18 years old
  • North Dakota resident
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Appropriate academic qualifications for the department
  • EMT training
  • Good physical and mental health

As I mentioned above, Williston is in the heart of the oil boom region and is a great example of the sort of experience you will get in that area.

It is a combination department that offers different roles depending on your time, abilities and experience.

Much of the work revolves around medical support as much as fire prevention and suppression. Trained Firefighters with EMT and paramedic training look after 1000 square miles into the McKenzie county with just 78 career staff and 30 volunteers.

The department has grown in recent years and now operates from three stations. They also opened their first training facility in 2016 to help improve the skill sets of their firefighters and volunteers.

You can learn more about the department here.  

How to Become a Grand Forks, ND Firefighter

  • 18 years old
  • North Dakota resident
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Appropriate academic qualifications for the department
  • EMT training
  • Good physical and mental health

Grand Forks is one of those locations prone to flooding because of its position on the Red River Valley.

It is also the third-largest city in the state with significant cultural influence, a large airport and a population of around 57,000. This is where career firefighters need to have those extra skills for handling water rescues and other preparedness training.

There are only 78 firefighters and 1 station. Employment requirements here are basic with the expectation that recruits will continue with all of the appropriate training once hired.

How to Become a Fargo, ND Firefighter

  • A valid driver’s license
  • Sound physical and mental health.
  • Firefighter II or equivalent associate science degree or other educational qualification.
  • National Registry certification and EMT certification
  • The ability to understand written and spoken English
  • Medical examinations
  • Drug screening
  • Psychological evaluation
  • Background check
  • Physical test
  • Oral Interview
  • Written test

Finally, I can’t complete this guide on how to become a firefighter in North Dakota without looking at the Fargo.

This is the biggest city in North Dakota, even though it is not the capital, and has a highly-trained career staff. Despite being the biggest city, there are still just 7 stations with 123 personnel and an annual average of 10,000 calls.

The incidents may be minimal compared to other major cities, but residents still need a rapid response from trained professionals. As you can see from the criteria below, there is a lot to get through in the Fargo hiring process.

Most aspects of their process are fairly common, as an EMT certification really is a must here and the background checks are extensive.

In other words, applicants for the city of Fargo are put through their paces so the crew gets the very best members. Fail at any point in this process and you are disqualified. You can learn more about this department here.

Job Prospects for North Dakota Firefighters

It is difficult not to compare the prospects of North and South Dakota when looking at stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Both states have a similar rate of employment in terms of posts offered and those employed. North Dakota 590 and 1.42 posts per 1000 people. In South Dakota, this was only marginally lower at 570 and 1.34 per 1000 jobs.

However, there was a difference in salary. Firefighters in the North Dakota receive a mean annual wage that year of $42,980.

https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes332011.htm#st

North Dakota definitely presents challenges for new recruits because of those limitations on education and college courses. However, there is help available for those willing to put in the work and find it.

Charitable associations and online studies can help if you’re interested in how to become a firefighter in North Dakota.

From there, you can progress through the hiring process and enjoy your career in your chosen department. Whether that means you’re helping citizens in Fargo, controlling a wildfire in the national park or handling incidents at the oil fields is up to you.

FirefighterNOW

I’m Mike, I’m a full time firefighter/paramedic/diver for a department just west of Cleveland, Ohio and the founder of FirefighterNOW. I’m also a columnist for FireRescue1. If you’re reading this blog my guess is you are interested in the fire service. There's information on fitness, gear, interviews, tests and more. I hope you find what you're looking for.

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