Denver,CO: How to Become a Firefighter

Becoming a firefighter in Denver, Colorado is a highly respected and rewarding career path that requires dedication, physical fitness, and a strong commitment to public safety. Firefighters in Denver play a critical role in responding to emergencies, protecting lives and property, and providing essential support to their community. However, this career is not without its challenges and risks. On the positive side, firefighters enjoy job stability and security, opportunities for advancement, and competitive salary and benefits packages. They also have opportunities to specialize in different areas of firefighting, such as hazmat, rescue, and EMS, and build strong bonds with their colleagues.

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Firefighters also face significant physical demands and risks, including exposure to hazardous materials and environments. They work long and irregular hours, including overnight shifts and holidays, and may experience emotional and mental stress from dealing with traumatic events. Additionally, exposure to toxic substances can lead to long-term health effects. Despite the challenges, many firefighters find the job highly rewarding and continue to make a positive impact in their community.

Job Duties of a Firefighter in Denver

While specific duties might vary slightly depending on the particular station or department within Denver, CO, the job duties of a firefighter generally encompass a range of responsibilities. Here is a list of some common duties and responsibilities a firefighter in Denver, CO might have:

  • Respond to Emergency Calls: Firefighters quickly and effectively respond to emergency situations, which include fires, medical emergencies, car accidents, and hazardous material incidents.
  • Fire Suppression: This includes combating, extinguishing, and preventing fires. Firefighters also ensure that fires are fully extinguished to prevent rekindling.
  • Medical Assistance: In many departments, firefighters are also trained as EMTs or paramedics. They provide first aid and CPR when necessary, and can sometimes administer medications.
  • Rescue Operations: This includes extricating people from cars, buildings, or any other situation where they may be trapped or in danger.
  • Inspection and Maintenance: Firefighters regularly inspect equipment and perform routine maintenance to ensure everything is in working order. This includes hydrants, hoses, ladders, turnout gear, and more.
  • Fire Prevention: Firefighters often engage in community outreach to educate the public on fire safety. This might include school visits, community events, or even home safety inspections.
  • Training and Drills: Continuous training is a significant part of a firefighter’s job. This includes attending training sessions, participating in drills, and staying updated on the latest firefighting techniques and technologies.
  • Maintain Fitness: Given the physical demands of the job, firefighters must maintain a certain level of physical fitness. They might be required to participate in regular fitness training and testing.
  • Station Duties: When not responding to an emergency, firefighters have chores and duties around the firehouse, such as cleaning and cooking.
  • Hazardous Materials (HazMat) Operations: Some firefighters are trained to respond to hazardous materials incidents, where they may contain spills or work to mitigate the hazards associated with chemical, biological, or radioactive materials.
  • Wildland Fires: Given the geographical location of Denver and the risk of wildfires in Colorado, some firefighters might be trained in wildland firefighting techniques.
  • Reporting and Documentation: After responding to calls, firefighters might be responsible for writing reports detailing the incident. These reports can be used for insurance purposes, investigations, or departmental reviews.
  • Collaboration: Firefighters often work in tandem with other emergency services like the police or medical teams. They need to effectively communicate and collaborate with these services to ensure the safety and well-being of the public.

It’s worth noting that as with any city, Denver will have its own specific protocols, regulations, and standard operating procedures. Additionally, due to changes in best practices, technological advancements, and local needs, job duties and responsibilities can evolve over time.

Career Requirements

Educational RequirementsPostsecondary nondegree award
Licensure/CertificationCertification and License is mandatory
Experience/TrainingFirefighter Training Academy
Key SkillsQuick Response, Critical Thinking, Teamwork, Courage, Publics Safety and Security
Annual Mean Salary – Colorado (2022)$ 67,340 per year
Job Outlook – Colorado (2020 – 2030)16%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2022) and O*Net Online

Steps to Become a Firefighter in Denver

Step 1: Meet the Basic Requirements

To become a firefighter in Denver, you must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent. You also need a valid driver’s license and a clean driving record. Also, you must be physically fit, pass a medical exam, and meet specific vision and hearing requirements.

Step 2: Get Educated

While a college degree is not required to become a firefighter in Denver, it can be helpful. Some firefighters pursue degrees in fire science or a related field to increase their knowledge and competitiveness. Additionally, completing a paramedic or EMT program can enhance your skillset and make you a more valuable candidate.

Step 3: Pass the Exams

The hiring process for firefighters in Denver involves a series of exams, including a written test, physical fitness test, and oral interview. These exams evaluate your aptitude, physical abilities, and communication skills.

Step 4: Complete Training

If you are selected as a firefighter in Denver, you will undergo extensive training at the Denver Fire Academy. This training includes classroom instruction, hands-on experience, and on-the-job training.

Step 5: Get Certified

After completing the academy, you will need to obtain certification as a firefighter and EMT. This requires passing written and practical exams and meeting other requirements set by the National Fire Protection Association and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Eligibility Criteria for Joining the Denver Fire Department

Following is the eligibility criteria that will have to be fulfilled by every firefighting aspirant in Denver.

  • Must be at least 21 at the time of applying
  • Must complete high school. If you don’t have a high school diploma (HSD), then the equivalent General Educational Development (GED) certificate will suffice
  • Must be a legal citizen of the United States. This includes individuals born in America as well as naturalized citizens of this country
  • Must have a valid Colorado driver’s license before being appointed to the Denver Fire Department. Any other licensing requirements outlined by the department have to be fulfilled as well
  • Must be a Colorado resident
  • Must not have any kind of criminal record in any state
  • Must not be a drug user
  • Must qualify the written and physical evaluations of the DFD

How Much Time Will Be Spent In Becoming a Firefighter in Denver?

On average, it takes between eight months to one year to become a firefighter in Denver. After a candidate is successfully screened and passes background check, they are required to enroll in the training academy. A rigorous program, it takes around 12 to 16 weeks of training at the firefighter academy. Anyone applying for wildfire-fighting position needs to clear two additional specific courses.

The Salary of a Firefighter in Denver

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary for firefighters in Colorado was $67,340 as of May 2022. However, this salary can vary based on experience, education, and certifications. To increase their earning potential, firefighters can pursue additional certifications or specializations, such as hazardous materials handling, technical rescue, or fire investigation.

Career Outlook for Firefighters in Denver

According to O*Net Online, the job outlook for firefighters in Colorado is positive, with a projected growth rate of 16% from 2020-2030. In Denver, there are a variety of opportunities for firefighters to advance their careers, including promotion to captain or chief, specialized training in areas like hazardous materials response or urban search and rescue, and participation in community outreach programs. Additionally, firefighters can pursue alternative careers in related fields, such as emergency management, occupational health and safety, or public administration.

Certification Requirements for Firefighters in Denver

To become a firefighter in Denver, CO, candidates typically need to meet a series of requirements and undergo several steps in the hiring process. Here’s a general overview of the certification requirements and other prerequisites:

Minimum Qualifications

  • Must be at least 21 years old by the closing date of the firefighter recruitment period.
  • Must have a high school diploma or GED.
  • Possess a valid driver’s license.


  • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Certification: Many fire departments, including Denver’s, require candidates to be EMT certified, either before hiring or within a given time frame after being hired. Some departments may also encourage or require paramedic certification.
  • Firefighter I & II Certifications: Although these certifications might not always be mandatory for the application process, having Firefighter I & II certifications can be beneficial. Some departments might require candidates to earn these certifications during their probationary period.

Physical and Medical Examinations

  • Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT): Candidates often need to successfully pass the CPAT, which tests physical endurance and capabilities specific to firefighting tasks.
  • Medical Examination: A thorough medical examination ensures that candidates are physically and mentally fit for the demands of firefighting.
  • Written Examination: Most fire departments, including Denver’s, require candidates to take a written exam that measures basic skills such as reading comprehension, mathematical reasoning, and situational judgment.
  • Background Check: A comprehensive background check, including criminal history and driving record, is conducted to ensure candidates have good moral character.
  • Interview Process: Candidates usually undergo an interview process, which might consist of multiple rounds or panels, to evaluate their suitability for the job.
  • Fire Academy Training: Once hired, new firefighters typically attend a fire academy or training program where they learn the basics of firefighting, rescue operations, and emergency medical services.
  • Probationary Period: New hires often undergo a probationary period where their performance and adaptability to the job are closely monitored.
  • Continuing Education and Advanced Certifications: Even after initial hiring and training, firefighters in Denver, like elsewhere, are expected to continue their education, participate in regular drills and training sessions, and might also pursue advanced certifications in areas like hazardous materials, technical rescue, or fire inspection.
  • Denver-specific Requirements: Local municipalities may have additional or specific requirements that are unique to their area, based on local laws, regulations, or departmental policies.

If you’re interested in becoming a firefighter in Denver, CO, it’s always a good idea to visit the official website of the Denver Fire Department or contact their recruiting or human resources division directly for the most up-to-date and specific information about hiring prerequisites and processes.

Certifications for Firefighters in Denver

Becoming a firefighter in Denver, CO, or elsewhere generally involves several certifications and training components, as they ensure candidates have the requisite skills and knowledge for the job. Here’s a list of commonly required and optional certifications for firefighters, with a focus on Denver:

  • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Certification: Fire departments often require firefighters to be EMT-certified due to the significant number of medical emergencies they respond to. In Denver, this is typically a requirement.
  • Firefighter I & II Certifications: These are basic firefighting certifications that many departments require either before hiring or during the probationary period. They cover essential firefighting skills, equipment usage, and safety procedures.
  • Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) Certification: While this is more of a physical fitness test than a traditional certification, successful completion is often necessary to move forward in the hiring process. The CPAT ensures that candidates possess the physical capability to perform the duties of a firefighter.
  • Hazardous Materials (HazMat) Certification: Given the potential for firefighters to respond to hazardous materials incidents, some departments require or offer specialized HazMat training. There are different levels of certification, from awareness to operations and technician levels.
  • Driver/Operator Certification: This is for firefighters who will be driving and operating fire apparatus. It ensures they can safely drive under emergency conditions and understand the mechanics and operation of the vehicle.
  • Technical Rescue Certifications: These certifications are specialized and might include areas like confined space rescue, rope rescue, trench rescue, and water rescue.
  • Wildland Firefighting Certification: Given Colorado’s propensity for wildfires, some firefighters might undergo training specific to wildland firefighting.
  • Fire Instructor and Fire Officer Certifications: For those looking to advance their careers, certifications in instruction and officer-level duties are available.
  • Advanced Life Support/Paramedic Certification: While not always a requirement, some firefighters choose to further their medical training by becoming paramedics. Some departments, recognizing the value of this advanced training, might incentivize or require it for certain positions.
  • Continuing Education: Firefighting is a constantly evolving field. Regular training and continued education, often resulting in various certifications, are important for keeping firefighters up-to-date with the latest techniques, technologies, and safety protocols.

For those interested in pursuing a firefighting career in Denver, CO, it’s crucial to consult the Denver Fire Department’s official resources or speak with their recruitment division. They can provide the most accurate and current information about required certifications and other hiring prerequisites.

Top Firefighting Programs in Denver

If you’re interested in pursuing a firefighting career in Denver, CO, there are several reputable programs and schools in the region that offer fire science and emergency medical programs. Here are some of the top firefighting programs in and around Denver:

Red Rocks Community College (RRCC)

Located in Lakewood, just west of Denver, RRCC offers a Fire Science Technology program. They provide both associate degree and certificate programs in fire science, which can be beneficial for those aspiring to be firefighters or for current firefighters looking to advance their careers.

Aims Community College

Located in Greeley, north of Denver, Aims offers a comprehensive Fire Science program. They provide training for those looking to become firefighters, fire officers, fire investigators, and fire instructors.

Pikes Peak Community College (PPCC)

Though it’s a bit further south in Colorado Springs, PPCC is a notable institution offering a Fire Science Technology program. They offer both degree and certificate programs.

Community College of Aurora (CCA)

Located in Aurora, which is adjacent to Denver, CCA offers a Fire Science Technology program that is well-regarded in the region.

Denver Fire Department Training Division

For those accepted into the Denver Fire Department, they will undergo rigorous training at the department’s Training Division. While this isn’t a traditional college program, it’s an intensive training regimen that prepares recruits for real-world firefighting scenarios in Denver.

Colorado Firecamp

Located in Salida, further from Denver, Colorado Firecamp offers wildland and structure fire training courses. Given Colorado’s landscape and potential for wildfires, training in wildland firefighting can be invaluable.

Front Range Community College

With campuses in Westminster, Brighton, and other locations around Denver, Front Range Community College offers programs in Fire Science Technology. They provide both degree and certificate programs.

Emily Griffith Technical College

Located in Denver itself, Emily Griffith offers a range of technical programs, including courses related to emergency medical services.

When choosing a firefighting program, it’s essential to consider factors like accreditation, hands-on training opportunities, course content, and the reputation of the instructors. Moreover, always check with local fire departments or hiring agencies to understand what specific qualifications or programs they prefer or recognize.

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