How To Become A Firefighter In Ohio

Ohio has an interesting claim to fame when it comes to firefighting history and many have asked how to become a firefighter in Ohio.

The Cincinnati Fire Department is the oldest paid professional department in the country. Yes, there are lots of smaller volunteer departments that will probably claim to have started before 1853, but Ohio holds on tight to this honor.

This status and the development of the state and its population mean that standards are high. So, how can you become a firefighter in Ohio?

How to Become a Firefighter in Ohio

  • 18 or above
  • High school diploma or GED
  • A valid driver’s license
  • Physically fit
  • EMT training preferable

The minimum requirements to become a firefighter in Ohio aren’t that tough compared to some states.

The low age, residency and education rules are a basic starting point. But, there is a long process ahead. Below I will talk more about this, the challenges of Ohio and some of the training college and departments.

Firefighting in Ohio

The hiring process follows a similar pattern in most departments in Ohio. Once you complete the initial application with those minimum requirements above, you can then move onto the written test and physical agility tests.

If we use the Cincinnati department as a good example, we can see how important the written test can be. Here it accounts for 60% of your total score in the hiring process. The other 40% comes from the firefighter interviews.

Figures and expectations can vary between departments. Some may not be so tough with the interview, while others will be very thorough and check your background with polygraph testing, drug testing and criminal checks. As long as you have no criminal or drug history you should be fine.

Don’t assume that the process ends indoors with the written and oral sections. There are also grueling physical tests to ensure that you are up to the job.

In Cincinnati, this includes a stair climb, ladder raise, dummy drag, equipment carry and self-rescue. Often, these tests are timed. Pass all the events or prepare to do it all again in the next hiring window.

Challenges faced by Ohio Firefighters

The challenges that you will face if you become a firefighter in Ohio will depend on your location. Those that work in major cities like Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati will deal with a higher volume of calls and more major accidents.

Akron firefighters will have to be aware of the influx of students and the need for fire prevention and suppression around the university. Those out in the more rural, agricultural areas have different businesses and landscapes to protect.

Then there is the lakefront area to the north. One of the seasonal risks that firefighters in Ohio have to face is the risk of bad weather and subsequent damage in what is known as the “snow belt”.

This belt is a stretch of land that runs along the shore of Lake Erie. For a large part of the year, the lakefront is a nice place to live and tourists can come here to enjoy the scenery and watersports in different coastal towns. But, the winter can be harsh here.

There are some difficult storms where the snow and ice drive in off the lake and can cause havoc in these communities. A build-up of snow can trap residents and make it difficult to get around. The temperatures and slippery conditions increase the risk of vehicular accidents and medical incidents.

Then there is the frozen ice. There will always be those that decide to venture out onto the lake when it freezes over. It always looks so solid and inviting to thrill seekers, skaters and kids on a dare. But, that ice will break, and the water beneath can kill.

That is why emergency personnel in Northern Ohio need to be ready to handle ice rescues as well as water rescues. Residents here may see departments training to develop skills and strategies.

One department that knows the value in this is Chardon. This small city department gets regular calls for incidents in the snow belt because it is just 30 miles from Cleveland.

It is a small staff here, with 7 full-time and 43 part-time crew members. They handle mostly EMS calls in the area and can deal with as many as 2000 calls a year

Fire Academies in Ohio

There are a number of different colleges and fire academies that provide an education in fire training or fire science.

You may decide to choose a college based on its location if you live locally or have a fire department in mind for your career. But, it is also worthwhile comparing options in courses, the modules taken, and the qualifications offered.

Some facilities will go further with associate degrees and transferable credits for management roles. Others are shorter entry-level courses for those that want to get straight into work at the ground level.

I have to start with Akron for two reasons. First of all, this is home to one of the best colleges in the region so is sure to provide a great education.

The other is because they also have their own Professional Firefighter Academy. The academy gives students the training required to work towards their Firefighter 1 and 2 certificate and move into the profession.

Furthermore, the course here also gives students college credit that can go towards a degree program. It is up to them whether to leave the college with their firefighter, hazardous materials and incident management certificates or to continue for a degree.

The Fire Protection Technology program is a great choice because it gives students a more well-rounded education about the behavior of fire and how best to manage it.

You will learn about different situations, equipment options and how to handle the situation. This also means modules on the legal and administrative side of the job and dealing with other organizations. You can learn more here.

In Cincinnati, the Great Oaks Career College is an establishment that focuses more on vocational training for valuable professions in Ohio.

This is a great place to come for certification in Firefighter I and II, EMT training and other emergency service skills. The campus in Cincinnati now provides great training opportunities in firefighter courses where students can work on their Fire Officer I certificate.

It is an intensive 6-day course on leadership, communications, incident management and more. You can learn more about the different options available here.

Major Fire Departments in Ohio

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

How to Become a Cincinnati, OH Firefighter

  • 18 or above
  • High school diploma or GED
  • A valid driver’s license
  • Physically fit
  • EMT training preferable

There are lots of major cities in Ohio with large departments. As we have already looked at the requirements of Cincinnati, let’s look at their department in a little more detail.

The Cincinnati department is large and diverse when it comes to all of the different situations it needs to deal with. The team covers an area of 77 square miles, which includes 25 miles of the Ohio River.

This means that crews need to be ready to handle medical emergencies, major fires, accidents and water rescue whenever the call comes. They also have divisions in arson investigation, hazardous materials and advanced life support. Read more about the department here.

How to Become a Dayton, OH Firefighter

  • 18 or above
  • High school diploma or GED
  • A valid driver’s license
  • Physically fit
  • EMT training preferable

The Dayton fire department is a fair size with 12 stations and 368 personnel. One of the interesting things about working here is the balance between fire-related calls and medical calls.

There are lots of EMT and paramedic trained crew members here ready to handle life-threatening situations. Furthermore, the team has divisions for citizen rescue, pre-hospital emergency care and transportation to emergency rooms.

Of course, fire suppression, prevention and other support roles also occur here. That is why Dayton crew members need to train for a variety of skills to best serve their community. You can find out more here.

Job Prospects for Firefighters in Ohio

As of 2018 Ohio is the state with the fourth-highest number of firefighters employed. There are 19,210 which means that it has the highest concentration of jobs at 3.55 per 100 people. It also has the biggest quotient at 1.60.

Looking at high employment rates by non-metropolitan area, West Northwestern Ohio had 910 employed with 3.53 per 1000 jobs.

The mean wage for firefighters in Ohio is $46,310.

Ohio has been producing some of the best firefighters in the US for a very long time. The departments and facilities above show that there is plenty of chance to make your way into the profession, your you’re interested in learning how to become a firefighter in Ohio.

Just be aware of what it takes to serve your community in your region. Build up your skillset and keep on learning about the evolving threats to this state and its people. If you can do that, you can become a valuable asset to the fire service.