Guide to Become a Firefighter in Arizona

Firefighters are usually the first respondents on the scene of traffic accidents, wildfires, structural fires, natural disasters, explosions, hazardous accidents, and other catastrophes. Due to the dangerous working conditions, firefighters are susceptible to crush injuries, smoke inhalation, and burns. They can also suffer from long term job related illnesses including lung damage, cancer, heart disease, and asthma.

To work as a firefighter in the state of Arizona, you have to complete the following steps.

Step 1: Complete Education

You need a high school diploma or a GED to apply for the position of a firefighter in Arizona. Some fire departments may require you to have a college degree.

Step 2: Meet Age Requirements

In case of most fire departments in Arizona, the minimum age limit to join the firefighters force is 18 years.

Step 3: Apply for the Job and Go Through the Hiring Process

Once you are sure you have met all the prerequisites, start applying for the position of a firefighter. Since competition for places is fierce, you will need to be patient. Once your application is shortlisted, you have to clear the hiring process. To pass the hiring part, you will need to clear written and oral evaluations, medical tests, psychological screening, drug tests, etc.

Step 4: Pass Fire Academy Training and Get EMT Certification

You will also have to pass fire academy training to work as a firefighter in the state of Arizona. After passing the academy, you will be eligible to obtain EMT certification. This certification might not be required in some cases.

Duties of a Firefighter in Arizona

As part of your job, you will be expected to do the following:

  • Respond to emergency calls and carry out rescue operations
  • Extinguish and combat fires
  • Provide emergency medical care to injured people
  • Operate firefighting apparatus and drive emergency vehicles
  • Rescue trapped individuals and animals
  • Prepare emergency incidence reports

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Skills for a Firefighter in Arizona

Firefighting is a demanding and challenging profession, requiring a blend of physical, mental, and interpersonal skills. In Arizona, as in other states, firefighters need to possess a broad range of skills to effectively perform their duties and ensure safety. Here are some key skills and abilities required for a firefighter:

  • Physical Fitness: Firefighting is physically demanding. Firefighters must be in excellent shape to carry heavy equipment, climb ladders, break through obstacles, and rescue victims.
  • Medical Knowledge: Many fire departments require their firefighters to be trained as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) or paramedics since a significant portion of emergency calls is medical in nature.
  • Technical Knowledge: Understanding the mechanics of firefighting, such as the behavior of fires, how to use equipment, and understanding building structures, is crucial.
  • Decision Making: Firefighters often work in high-pressure situations where quick and accurate decisions can mean the difference between life and death.
  • Problem Solving: Firefighters need to assess situations rapidly and determine the best approach, whether it’s deciding how to attack a fire or how to access a trapped individual.
  • Teamwork: Firefighting is a team-oriented profession. Firefighters must work closely with their crew, coordinating actions and communicating effectively.
  • Communication Skills: Being able to clearly communicate with team members, other emergency responders, and the public is crucial.
  • Adaptability: No two emergencies are the same. Firefighters must be flexible and adapt to changing situations on the fly.
  • Stress Management: Emergencies can be intense and emotionally draining. Firefighters need to handle stress well, remaining calm and focused even in dire situations.
  • Mechanical Aptitude: Firefighters use various tools and equipment, from fire trucks to specialized rescue tools. Understanding how these work and being able to troubleshoot issues can be beneficial.
  • Public Education: Firefighters often engage with the community to educate them about fire safety. This requires good public speaking skills and a genuine interest in helping others.
  • HazMat Knowledge: Firefighters may be called to respond to hazardous materials incidents, so understanding the basics of HazMat situations, including containment and cleanup, is important.
  • Wildland Firefighting Skills: Given that Arizona faces the threat of wildfires, skills related to wildland firefighting, such as understanding fire behavior in natural environments, can be beneficial.
  • Integrity: Firefighters hold a position of trust in their communities. They need to act with honesty and uphold a high standard of ethics at all times.
  • Empathy and Compassion: Firefighters often interact with individuals in distress or facing the worst moments of their lives. Being compassionate and understanding is essential.

Training and continuous education are crucial in honing these skills. Whether it’s through fire academies, ongoing training in a department, or specialized courses, firefighters in Arizona and elsewhere always strive to enhance their knowledge and skill set to serve their communities better.

Requirements to Become a Firefighter in Arizona

There are certain basic requirements that aspiring firefighters need to meet. These are mentioned below:

  • The applicant should meet the residency requirements and should be a US citizen
  • The applicant must be 18 years old
  • The applicant must have a high school diploma or GED at the time of application
  • The applicant must hold a valid driver’s license
  • The applicant should have excellent physical and mental health
  • The applicant must not have any past felonies or criminal convictions

Process to Become a Firefighter in Arizona

Becoming a firefighter in Arizona, like many states, involves a series of steps to ensure that candidates are properly trained and suited for the demands of the job. The process might vary slightly based on the specific municipality or department, but generally follows these steps:

Minimum Requirements

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have a high school diploma or GED.
  • Have a valid Arizona driver’s license.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or have a legal right to work in the U.S.

EMT or Paramedic Certification

Many fire departments in Arizona require firefighter applicants to have an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or Paramedic certification.

Fire Academy Training

Before you can work as a firefighter, you typically need to graduate from a fire academy, which provides intensive training on firefighting tactics, rescue operations, and fire science.


  • Written Test: Applicants usually have to pass a written examination that covers basic math, reading comprehension, and mechanical reasoning.
  • Physical Ability Test: This is a physical examination to ensure you’re physically fit enough to perform the duties of a firefighter. It can include tasks like carrying equipment, climbing ladders, and dragging hoses or dummies.
  • Medical Examination: You’ll need to pass a thorough medical examination to ensure you’re physically fit for the demands of firefighting.
  • Psychological Test: Some departments might require a psychological evaluation to ensure you’re mentally fit for the job.
  • Background Check: Departments will conduct a background check to look for any criminal history or other red flags that might disqualify a candidate.
  • Oral Interview: You’ll likely participate in an interview with department officials. This is an opportunity for them to assess your character, judgment, motivation, and potential fit within the department.
  • Probationary Period: Once hired, new firefighters often go through a probationary period, during which their performance is closely monitored.
  • Continuing Education and Training: Even after being hired, firefighters continue to receive training throughout their careers. This training ensures they’re up-to-date on the latest firefighting techniques, equipment, and safety protocols.

To increase your chances of being hired, consider taking fire science courses at a local community college, volunteering with a local fire department, or gaining experience in a related field like emergency medical services.

Finally, remember to check with specific fire departments in Arizona for their unique requirements and hiring process. Some might have additional steps or slight variations in the process.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Firefighter in Arizona?

Once the applicant has met the minimum requirements, he/she can fill out the application form and apply before the deadline. If the application gets shortlisted, the individual will be called in for the aptitude test, and the strength and agility test. Those who clear these tests will then be required to appear for oral and panel interviews, which will test the applicant’s mental and reasoning skills.
If the individual manages to impress the interviewers, then he/she will move on to the next stage which involves a criminal background investigation. A personal and professional reference check will also be conducted to check the applicant’s character.
After clearing this stage, the applicant will be finally offered a place at the fire department, dependent on availability of the positions. Following this, the candidate will be expected to undergo strenuous firefighting training that covers topics like survival skills, rescue operations, and fire code violations.

Salaries of Firefighters

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean wage of firefighters in Arizona was $47,850 in May 2022.

Job Outlook

According to O*Net OnLine, firefighters in Arizona will experience job growth of 11% between 2020 and 2030.

Firefighting Careers in Arizona

Pursuing a firefighting career in Arizona offers various opportunities, from municipal departments in large cities like Phoenix and Tucson to smaller rural departments, as well as specialized firefighting units due to Arizona’s diverse landscapes and the threat of wildfires.

Here’s a broad overview of firefighting careers and related opportunities in Arizona:

Municipal Fire Departments

Every city or municipality has its own fire department. They handle structural fires, rescue operations, medical emergencies, hazardous material incidents, and more.

  • Phoenix Fire Department: As one of the largest fire departments in the state, they often have multiple recruitment cycles throughout the year.
  • Tucson Fire Department: Another major department that offers various positions ranging from entry-level firefighter to specialized roles.

Wildland Firefighting

Arizona, with its vast stretches of desert and forest land, often faces the threat of wildfires. There are specialized firefighting units that tackle these blazes.

  • Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management: This state agency is responsible for managing and reducing fire risks on state lands.
  • S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management: These federal agencies often hire seasonal firefighters in Arizona, especially during peak fire seasons.

Airport Firefighting

Major airports, like Phoenix Sky Harbor International and Tucson International, have specialized firefighting crews trained to handle aircraft-related emergencies.

Fire Investigation and Prevention

These are specialized roles where individuals investigate the cause of fires and develop strategies to prevent them.

Training and Education

As firefighting techniques and equipment evolve, there’s a need for instructors and educators to train new recruits and provide ongoing education to experienced firefighters. This can be done at fire academies, community colleges, or within specific fire departments.

Paramedics and EMTs

Many fire departments require their firefighters to be trained as EMTs or paramedics because a significant portion of emergency calls is medical in nature.

Specialized Roles

Larger departments may offer specialized roles, such as hazardous materials (HazMat) teams, technical rescue teams, or water rescue units.

Fire Department Support Roles

Not all roles in a fire department involve fighting fires. There are positions in public education, public relations, administration, and equipment maintenance, among others.

Volunteer Fire Departments

Especially in smaller towns or rural areas of Arizona, volunteer fire departments play a crucial role. Volunteering is an excellent way to gain experience and serve the community, and it can be a stepping stone to a full-time firefighting career.

If you’re considering a firefighting career in Arizona, it’s a good idea to connect with local fire departments, attend career fairs, or participate in ride-along programs to get a firsthand look at the job. Also, keeping yourself physically fit and pursuing relevant certifications, like EMT or paramedic training, can enhance your qualifications.

Firefighter Colleges in Arizona

For individuals interested in pursuing a career in firefighting in Arizona, there are educational institutions and training academies that offer programs and courses in fire science and related fields. Here are some notable institutions and their respective programs:

Phoenix College

  • Offers an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in Fire Science and a Certificate of Completion (CCL) in Fire Operations.
  • Provides fire academy training for those pursuing a career as a firefighter.

Mesa Community College

  • Offers an AAS in Fire Science and Firefighter Operations.
  • Provides courses on fire behavior, strategy and tactics, fire prevention, and more.

Glendale Community College

  • Provides an AAS in Fire Science as well as several certificate programs related to firefighting and fire science.
  • Offers courses like Fire Department Operations, Wildland Firefighting, and more.

Central Arizona College

  • Offers fire science programs and firefighter academy training.
  • Provides an EMT program, which can be beneficial since many fire departments require firefighters to have EMT certification.

Pima Community College (Tucson)

  • Offers an AAS in Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE).
  • Has certificate programs for Fire Science, Driver/Operator, Fire Officer, and Wildland Firefighter.

Arizona Western College (Yuma)

  • Provides an AAS in Fire Science.
  • Offers courses that range from basic fire science principles to advanced firefighting tactics.

Scottsdale Community College

  • Offers programs in Fire Science, including an AAS and various certificates.
  • Their courses cover a range of topics like hazardous materials, fire prevention, fire service hydraulics, and more.

Eastern Arizona College

  • Provides a Fire Science AAS degree.
  • Also offers an academy program for those seeking to become certified firefighters.

In addition to these colleges, several fire departments in Arizona run their own training academies or have partnerships with educational institutions for training. When considering a college or academy, it’s essential to ensure that its programs align with the hiring requirements of the fire departments you’re interested in.

Furthermore, attending open houses, talking to current students or graduates, and meeting with instructors can give prospective students a better understanding of what each program offers and how it can prepare them for a successful career in firefighting.

Fire Departments in Arizona

Arizona is home to numerous fire departments that serve its cities, towns, and rural areas. These departments vary in size, with some covering large urban centers while others focus on smaller communities or specific regions. Here’s a list of some of the prominent fire departments in Arizona:

Phoenix Fire Department

This is one of the largest fire departments in the state, serving the city of Phoenix and its surrounding areas.

Tucson Fire Department

Serving the city of Tucson, this department handles a variety of emergencies from structure fires to medical calls.

Mesa Fire and Medical Department

Serving the city of Mesa, this department is responsible for both firefighting and emergency medical services.

Glendale Fire Department

Covers the city of Glendale and often collaborates with neighboring departments on large incidents.

Scottsdale Fire Department

Provides services to the city of Scottsdale, including fire prevention, emergency medical services, and rescue operations.

Tempe Fire Medical Rescue Department

Serving the city of Tempe, this department focuses on fire suppression, emergency medical services, and more.

Chandler Fire Department

This department covers the city of Chandler and offers a range of services from fire suppression to community education.

Gilbert Fire & Rescue Department

Serving the town of Gilbert, they handle a myriad of emergencies and also engage in community outreach programs.

Peoria Fire-Medical Department

Covering the city of Peoria, they provide fire suppression, emergency medical services, and various specialized rescue operations.

Surprise Fire-Medical Department

This department serves the city of Surprise and offers both firefighting and medical services.

Flagstaff Fire Department

Serving the city of Flagstaff and surrounding areas, this department handles both urban and wildland fires due to its location near forested regions.

Prescott Fire Department

This department serves the city of Prescott and has a history dating back to the late 1800s.

Yuma Fire Department

Covering the city of Yuma, this department offers a range of services including firefighting, emergency medical care, and community education.

Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority (CAFMA)

A regional fire authority that serves several communities in the central part of the state.

Rural/Metro Fire Department

A private company that provides fire protection and emergency medical services to several communities in Arizona on a subscription basis.

Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management

While not a traditional municipal fire department, this state agency plays a crucial role in preventing and battling wildland fires across Arizona.

These are just a selection of the many fire departments in Arizona. Numerous smaller departments and districts serve the state’s vast and varied communities. If you’re interested in joining or collaborating with a specific department, it’s a good idea to visit their official website or contact them directly for more detailed information.

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