What It's Like to Train as a Fireman

How do you become a firefighter? It's one of the toughest jobs around. These guys put their lives on the line in ways even Navy SEALs would balk at. Wood burns hot, and running into a burning building made of the stuff takes courage most can't fathom. Firefighter training is designed to instill that courage, but they only want the best to undertake it.

Assuming you meet their requirements and pass their various tests, you'll have to endure one of the most harrowing training regimens in the world if you want to become a member of the fire department. Fire and smoke are just the beginning. Becoming a firefighter means you can be a dependable team player who will put the safety of others first.

So, if you think you have what it takes to train as a firefighter, check out the list below and see if you'd be able to handle the heat. You future job as a fireman depends on it.
Photo: Sylvain Pedneault / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

  • You'll Spend 600 Hours in Training

    Going into a house that's on fire isn't for the faint of heart. You have to know what you're doing. That's why every prospective firefighter will spend hundreds of hours during their training to become proficient. Training to be a firefighter is a full-time job, and takes a little over three months. Factor in the amount of hours you'll ultimately be spending learning and practicing, and that comes to about 40 to 48 hours a week. You have to want it bad.
  • You Must Have 20/20 Vision

    You Must Have 20/20 Vision
    Photo: Pawdugan / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    Unfortunately, Mr. Magoo just wouldn't cut it as a firefighter. When you're spraying a torrent of water into a burning window, you have to see where you're aiming. The good news is that most fire departments are open to "corrected" vision, which means that contacts or glasses are just fine as long as they make your vision 20/20. 
  • Becoming an EMT Before You Apply Is a Really Good Idea

    Thousands of people apply to become firefighters every year, but only a handful are picked. So, you need a leg up on everyone else. One of the best ways to gain desirable experience is to become a certified EMT or paramedic with on the job experience before applying. 
  • The Fire Department Gets Real Buildings to Burn for Training

    The Fire Department Gets Real Buildings to Burn for Training
    Video: YouTube
    There are two kinds of training grounds for prospective firefighters.The first are buildings that were abandoned or condemned that are refitted with fire-resistant materials to become "burn buildings." The structure is also redone so it will collapse in harmless ways if a fire causes too much damage. 
  • Trainees Have Been Killed During Exercises

    Trainees Have Been Killed During Exercises
    Video: YouTube
    No one said the training was safe, which is why there have been fatalities in the past. Despite all the safety proofing, 99 trainees were killed between 1994 and 2004 while using the burn buildings. This led to a reevaluation of the training methods, but there's still plenty of danger present. 
  • You Will Train in a Specially-Built Course

    You Will Train in a Specially-Built Course
    Video: YouTube
    These days, the fire department uses something called "simulated fire buildings" for its training courses. They're built from the ground up with fire training in mind. They're made out of flame retardant materials such as concrete and are designed to create fires that can be extinguished instantly in an emergency using built in suppression systems.