Dallas,TX: How to Become a Firefighter

The formation of the Dallas Fire Department can be traced back to a massive fire that occurred in the city in July, 1860, causing everything to burn down. This massive loss of life and property prompted the creation of basic firefighting equipment.

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Fast-forward many years, and there is now the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department. The Dallas Fire-Rescue Department is one of the finest fire departments in the country. Members of this department have put in years of tireless efforts and laid down many lives to make this organization what it is today.
If you want to join this prestigious department in its noble cause, you ought to go through the following information on how to become a firefighter in Dallas.

Job duties of a firefighter in Dallas

While the specific duties of a firefighter can vary by department and city, the core responsibilities are often consistent. In Dallas, Texas, the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department (DFR) provides emergency services to the city’s residents. Here are some common job duties of a firefighter in Dallas:

  • Emergency Response: Respond promptly to emergency calls which can range from fires, car accidents, medical emergencies, hazardous material incidents, technical rescues, and more.
  • Fire Suppression: Engage directly in firefighting operations, which include entering burning buildings, operating hoses, and using other equipment to put out fires.
  • Rescue Operations: Extract and rescue individuals from dangerous situations such as trapped vehicles, collapsed structures, or high-rise emergencies.
  • Medical Services: Provide emergency medical attention as first responders. Many firefighters are also trained as EMTs or paramedics and can offer advanced life support if needed.
  • Equipment Maintenance: Regularly inspect and maintain firefighting equipment, apparatus, and personal protective gear to ensure they are always in operational condition.
  • Fire Prevention and Education: Participate in community outreach and education programs, teach fire safety to the public, and conduct fire inspections to ensure adherence to fire codes.
  • Training: Continuously engage in training exercises to stay current with the latest firefighting techniques, equipment, and emergency medical procedures.
  • Station Maintenance: Participate in daily chores and tasks to keep the fire station clean and operational.
  • Hazardous Material Response: Handle and contain hazardous materials spills and releases, ensuring the safety of the environment and the public.
  • Fire Investigation: Some firefighters may assist or train in determining the cause and origin of fires.
  • Physical Fitness: Maintain a high level of physical fitness to perform job duties efficiently and safely.
  • Administrative Duties: Complete reports related to incidents and emergencies, and occasionally participate in departmental meetings and planning.
  • Collaboration: Work closely with other emergency response agencies, such as the police, EMS, and other municipal departments.

It’s important to remember that the duties of a firefighter can evolve based on technological advancements, changes in protocols, and specific needs of the community. Additionally, Dallas, being a large metropolitan area, might have unique challenges and circumstances that firefighters need to address compared to smaller towns or rural areas. Always refer to the specific fire department or related municipal sources for the most up-to-date and specific job duties.

Steps and Requirements to Become a Firefighter in Dallas

Becoming a firefighter in Dallas, Texas, requires a series of steps, examinations, and training to ensure that applicants are prepared for the demanding nature of the job. Here is a general overview of the steps and requirements to become a firefighter with the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department (DFR):

  1. Minimum Requirements
  • Age: Usually, applicants must be at least 18 years old.
  • Education: A high school diploma or GED is typically required.
  • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen or have the legal right to work in the U.S.
  • Driver’s License: Must possess a valid driver’s license. Some departments may require a Texas driver’s license.
  • Background: Must pass a background check and have no felony convictions.
  1. Application Process

Complete the application form for the firefighter position during the recruitment window.

  • Submit any required documents or certifications.
  1. Written Examination
  • Applicants usually need to pass a written exam that tests their aptitude and understanding of basic firefighting concepts.
  1. Physical Ability Test (PAT)
  • This is a rigorous test to ensure that applicants have the physical capability to perform the duties of a firefighter. It often includes tasks such as carrying equipment, dragging hoses, and climbing ladders.
  1. Medical Examination
  • Undergo a comprehensive medical exam to ensure you are physically fit and free from conditions that may impair your ability to safely perform the duties of a firefighter.
  1. Background Check and Interview
  • A thorough background investigation is conducted.
  • Candidates may also have to go through an interview process with department officials or a review board.
  1. Fire Academy Training
  • If you pass the initial stages, you’ll be enrolled in a fire academy. Here, you’ll receive intensive training on firefighting techniques, emergency medical procedures, equipment operation, and other essential skills.
  • Successful completion of the fire academy is mandatory to become a firefighter.
  1. EMT or Paramedic Certification
  • Many departments, including Dallas, require firefighters to be certified as EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians). Some departments even encourage or require paramedic certification.
  • This entails additional training and passing the state or national EMT or paramedic certification exam.
  1. Probationary Period
  • After completing the academy and getting hired, new firefighters often undergo a probationary period where their performance and adaptability to the job are assessed.
  1. Continuous Learning and Advancement
  • Firefighters are expected to engage in ongoing training and education. With experience and additional training, firefighters can move up the ranks or specialize in areas like fire investigation or hazardous materials.

Requirements and steps can change based on departmental needs, evolving standards, and local regulations. If you’re seriously considering a career as a firefighter in Dallas, it’s essential to consult the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department or the city’s official channels for the most up-to-date and specific information.

Certification Requirements for Firefighters in Dallas

While specific certification requirements may vary over time and are subject to change based on departmental needs and local, state, or national standards, there are fundamental certifications that aspiring firefighters in Dallas, TX, typically need to obtain:

EMT Certification

Firefighters in Dallas are generally required to have (or obtain within a certain timeframe of being hired) an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification. Some departments might even require or prefer paramedic certification.

This involves completing an EMT or paramedic course and then passing the respective state or national certification examination.

Firefighter Certification

After completing training at a fire academy, firefighters must often earn a state-recognized firefighter certification. In Texas, this is usually administered by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection (TCFP).

The certification process involves both written and practical examinations that test the knowledge and skills a firefighter has learned during their training.

Driver’s License

Firefighters must have a valid driver’s license. In some cases, after being hired, firefighters might also need to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate certain types of fire apparatus.

Physical Fitness Certification

While not always a separate “certification,” firefighters must pass physical fitness or ability tests, which may be recurring. These tests ensure that firefighters maintain the physical standards necessary to perform their duties.

Specialized Certifications

Depending on the firefighter’s career path or the department’s specific needs, there might be additional certifications in areas like hazardous materials (HazMat), fire inspection, technical rescue, fire investigation, etc.

These certifications allow firefighters to specialize and take on additional responsibilities within the department.

Continuous Training and Re-Certification

The firefighting profession requires continuous learning. Certifications, especially in areas like EMT or paramedic, require periodic re-certification, involving additional training hours and sometimes re-examination.

Remember, these are general requirements, and specifics can change based on evolving standards and departmental needs. If you’re considering a firefighting career in Dallas or any other location, it’s essential to consult directly with the respective fire department or relevant state agency to get the most up-to-date information on certification requirements.

Certifications for Firefighters in Dallas

Becoming a firefighter in Dallas, TX, or any part of Texas, requires obtaining specific certifications to ensure you’re adequately trained and qualified for the job. Here’s a breakdown of the primary certifications needed:

Texas Commission on Fire Protection (TCFP) Certification

  • Basic Firefighter Certification: After successful completion of a firefighting academy or training program, candidates usually take an examination to become certified as a basic firefighter. This certification is typically administered by the TCFP, which sets the standards for firefighting in Texas.
  • Advanced Certifications: As firefighters gain experience and additional training, they can pursue higher levels of certification, such as Intermediate, Advanced, and Master levels.

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or Paramedic Certification

Given that many fire department calls are medical emergencies, firefighters in Dallas often need an EMT certification at a minimum. Some may also have, or eventually pursue, a Paramedic certification.

Certification typically requires completing a recognized course and passing the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) exam or a Texas-specific exam.

Driver/Operator Certification

For firefighters who will operate fire apparatus, a Driver/Operator certification may be needed. This certification is also typically overseen by the TCFP.

Specialty Certifications

Depending on a firefighter’s role or the department’s needs, there are a variety of specialty certifications available. Examples include:

  • Hazardous Materials (HazMat) Certification: For those dealing with hazardous materials incidents.
  • Fire Instructor Certification: For those training other firefighters.
  • Fire Inspector and Fire Investigator Certifications: For those conducting inspections or determining fire causes.
  • Technical Rescue Certification: For specialized rescue scenarios, such as confined space or high-angle rescues.

Physical Fitness and Ability

While not a “certification” in the traditional sense, candidates must typically pass a physical ability test (PAT) during the hiring process. This test ensures candidates can handle the physical demands of firefighting.

Continuing Education and Re-Certification

Once certified, firefighters usually need to complete ongoing training and education to maintain their certifications. The specifics can vary based on the certification type and governing body.

These are the general certifications required for firefighters in Dallas, TX. Still, specific requirements can vary based on the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department’s policies and the evolving standards of the profession. Always consult directly with the respective department or the Texas Commission on Fire Protection for the most accurate and up-to-date requirements.

Top Firefighting Programs in Dallas

Dallas, TX, and the surrounding region offer several reputable firefighting and emergency services training programs. As of my last update in January 2022, here are some of the top firefighting programs in the Dallas area:

Dallas Fire-Rescue Training Academy

As the training facility for one of the largest fire departments in Texas, the Dallas Fire-Rescue Training Academy provides comprehensive training to its recruits, covering both fire suppression and emergency medical services. This academy is instrumental in preparing firefighters to serve the Dallas community.

El Centro College – Fire Science Program

Located in downtown Dallas, El Centro College offers an Associate in Applied Sciences degree in Fire Protection Technology and a Firefighter Certificate. Their programs are designed to provide both theoretical knowledge and practical skills necessary for a career in fire services.

Tarrant County College (TCC) – Fire Service Training Center

Although located in Fort Worth, which is near Dallas, TCC’s Fire Service Training Center is recognized in the broader DFW area. They offer an Associate of Applied Science degree in Fire Protection Technology and basic and advanced firefighter certificates.

Collin College – Fire Science Program:

Located in McKinney, north of Dallas, Collin College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Fire Science and a Firefighter Academy. The program aims to train students for entry-level firefighting positions and help those in the field advance their careers.

North Central Texas College (NCTC) – Fire Science Academy

Situated in Corinth, this college provides both Fire Science Technology AAS (Associate of Applied Science) degrees and certificates. They have a robust program catering to those who wish to enter the firefighting profession and current professionals seeking advancement.

Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) – Brayton Fire Training Field

While not located in Dallas (it’s in College Station), TEEX is worth mentioning due to its national and international reputation. They offer various firefighting training programs, and their Brayton Fire Training Field is one of the largest live-fueled fire training facilities in the world.

When considering a firefighting program, it’s essential to ensure the curriculum aligns with state and national certification standards. It’s also a good idea to visit the facilities, speak with instructors, and, if possible, connect with alumni or current students to gain insight into the program’s quality and effectiveness.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Firefighter in Dallas

The process to become a firefighter in Dallas, TX, or in most locations, generally involves several steps, each with its own duration. Here’s a rough breakdown of the time required for each stage in the journey to becoming a firefighter in Dallas:


  • High School: Most fire departments require a high school diploma or GED. This typically takes 12 years (K-12).
  • Fire Science Degree (optional): While not always required, some individuals choose to pursue an Associate’s Degree in Fire Science, which usually takes about 2 years. This degree can provide a foundation of knowledge and potentially improve job prospects or advancement opportunities.

EMT or Paramedic Certification

  • EMT Certification: A basic EMT program can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to complete, depending on the program’s format and intensity.
  • Paramedic Certification: If you choose or are required to become a paramedic, this training is more in-depth and can take anywhere from 1,200 to 1,800 hours, translating to 6 months to 2 years of training, depending on the program.

Application and Hiring Process

This can be variable based on departmental needs, the number of applicants, and other factors. However, the process, which includes submitting an application, undergoing an interview, passing a written test, and completing a physical agility test, can take several weeks to several months.

Fire Academy Training

Once you’re accepted, you’ll need to attend a fire academy. Training at the academy can last anywhere from 3 to 6 months, depending on the specific curriculum and frequency of classes.

Probationary Period

After completing the fire academy and being officially hired, new firefighters typically undergo a probationary period. This period allows the department to assess the new firefighter’s skills, adaptability, and overall fit. The probationary period can last from 6 months to a year in many departments.

Specialized Training (if applicable)

If you decide to specialize in a particular area, such as hazardous materials (HazMat), technical rescue, or fire investigation, additional training and certification may be needed. The duration of these programs can vary.

In summary, excluding the time spent in primary and secondary education, becoming a firefighter in Dallas, TX, can take anywhere from roughly 9 months (fastest route with just EMT certification and immediate academy acceptance) to over 3 years (with a fire science degree, paramedic certification, and longer training programs). Always keep in mind that these are estimates and actual timeframes can vary based on individual circumstances, departmental needs, and specific program durations.

Salary of a Firefighter in Dallas

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2022), firefighters in Texas earned:

Annual Mean Salary: $53,630.

Annual Median Salary: $52,350.

Career Outlook for Firefighters in Dallas

Job employment figures for firefighters in the state of Texas over the coming years are very positive. As per the latest figures published by O*Net OnLine, firefighters are expected to experience a 14% growth in employment opportunities between 2020 and 2030.