How to Become a Firefighter in Illinois?

The State of Illinois is one of the safest states when it comes to getting killed or injured by fire. According to one estimate, since 2002, the state has had approximately 659 incidents of wildfires. This is the third lowest in the entire US. Nonetheless, these fires resulted in damage to 9,970 acres of land. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, in 2016, out of 1,000 fires, there were 3.1 deaths and 13.4 injuries. This is a worrisome figure as the nationwide figures for deaths and injuries were 2.4 and 9.3 respectively.
To protect the life and limb of its residents, the State of Illinois employs a large professional firefighting force, comprising of approximately 17,830 persons. This makes Illinois the fifth biggest employer of firefighters in the US.
If you are interested in becoming a firefighter in Illinois, then here is all the information you need to follow.

How to Become a Firefighter in Illinois
How to Become a Firefighter in Illinois

Requirements to Become a Firefighter in Illinois

Age

Applicants must be at least 20 years of age at the time of filing of application and 21 years of age at appointment. Applicants older than 34 years may not be considered for employment.

Education

Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED.

Physical Requirements

Successful completion of the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) and the ability to climb ladders. All applicants must have correctable vision to 20/20 in each eye.

Character

All applicants must be of good moral character. They must agree to be fingerprinted and during thorough background investigation must not be found convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors.

Residence

After the recruit completes his/her probationary period, he/she must live in the county where he/she works as a firefighter or within a certain mile radius of a landmark (as specified by your employer).

Training

All applicants must possess an Illinois Emergency Medical Technician Paramedic (EMT-P) license at the time of application. Applicants holding a National Registry paramedic license or an out-of-state license can apply for the Illinois paramedic license on reciprocity basis by contacting the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Driver’s License

All applicants must hold a valid driver’s license at the time of hiring. However, at the time of recruit’s graduation from a fire academy, he/she must hold a valid Illinois driver’s license.

Citizenship

All applicants must be citizens of the US or aliens legally allowed to work in the US.

Post-Application Process

Once you fulfill the above mentioned, you are eligible to file an application. If your application is approved, you will be called for the following:

  • Written Test
  • Physical Ability Test
  • Oral Interview
  • Medical Exam/Drug Screen
  • Thorough Background Investigation
  • Psychological Interview

It is possible that your future employer may offer workshops on the written and physical ability tests and interview. If they do, you should attend these workshops to enhance your chances of passing these tests.

Fire Academy Training

Once you have cleared/passed all of the above mentioned requirements, you will be asked to report to a fire academy for training. Your training is likely to last for a few months. The curriculum will be based on classroom based instruction and practical training. You will be taught fire prevention and firefighting techniques, emergency medical procedures and local building codes. You will also be taught how to fight fire with fire extinguishers, chain saws, axes and ladders. Once you have successfully completed the program, you will start to serve your one-year probationary period.

How Much Do Firefighters Earn in Illinois and Their Job Prospects

The following table is based on statistics taken from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) May 2017 figures and O*NET OnLine 2016 to 2026 projection:

State Employment Annual Mean Wage Percent Change Projected Annual Job Opening
Illinois 17,830 $55,300 +4% 1,270

If you are looking for a firefighter’s job in Illinois then your best bet is to look around Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, IL Metropolitan Division. This division alone employed 10,110 firefighters in May 2017, making it No.1 in the US. Here, the annual mean wage for firefighters was $65,700 – much higher than the annual mean wage of all the firefighters in the state of Illinois ($55,300).