In 2021, out of 1,000 fires in the State of Maryland a total of 1.4 deaths and 5.1 injuries were reported as per the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). One starts to appreciate these numbers once you look at the national statistics – for 1,000 fire incidents in the US, 2.3 deaths and 7.2 injuries were reported in 2021. The State of Maryland has been able to contain damage to life and limb largely due to the efforts of its various fire departments.

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Job Duties of a Firefighter in Maryland

The duties of firefighters can vary by location and department size, but generally, firefighters are responsible for responding to fires, accidents, and other emergencies. In the state of Maryland, firefighters typically have duties that may include, but are not limited to, the following:

Emergency Response

  • Responding to Fires: Suppress and extinguish fires, deploy hoses, and use other firefighting equipment.
  • Medical Assistance: Provide medical assistance during emergency situations, including administering first aid and CPR.
  • Rescue Operations: Carry out rescue operations for people trapped in buildings, vehicles, or other dangerous situations.
  • Hazardous Materials: Respond to hazardous material incidents, working to contain and manage the situation.

Prevention and Preparedness

  • Inspections: Conduct fire inspections to ensure buildings meet fire codes.
  • Public Education: Participate in public education programs aimed at fire and life safety.
  • Training: Constantly undergo training in fire suppression techniques, emergency medical treatment, hazardous materials handling, and other related activities.
  • Equipment Maintenance: Maintain firefighting equipment, apparatus, and quarters.

Administrative and Other Duties

  • Reporting: Document incident circumstances, equipment used, and resources deployed.
  • Interagency Cooperation: Work alongside other emergency services such as police and emergency medical services.
  • Community Engagement: Participate in community events to raise awareness about fire safety and prevention.

Specialized Roles

Some firefighters may have specialized roles such as:

  • Water Rescue: In areas near water, firefighters might be trained for water rescues.
  • Wildland Firefighting: In rural or forested areas, firefighters may be trained to combat wildfires.
  • Technical Rescue: For complicated rescue situations like collapsed buildings or confined spaces.
  • Driver/Engineer: Responsible for driving the fire engine and operating the pumps.

Note that firefighters in Maryland may also be subject to statewide rules and regulations as well as local departmental policies. Certification and continuous education might be necessary, often governed by the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute or similar agencies.

Keep in mind that specific duties can vary greatly depending on whether a firefighter works in a rural area, suburban community, or a large city. It’s also possible for firefighters to be volunteers rather than full-time employees, and their responsibilities may differ accordingly.

Steps to Become a Firefighter in Maryland

Becoming a firefighter in Maryland involves a series of steps that include education, testing, and training. While requirements may vary between departments and municipalities, the general pathway to become a firefighter typically includes the following steps:

  1. Educational Requirements
  • High School Diploma or GED: Most departments require a minimum of a high school diploma or GED.
  • Physical Requirements:
  • Physical Fitness: You must be in good physical condition. Many departments have specific physical fitness tests.
  1. Basic Requirements:
  • Age: Usually, you need to be at least 18 years old.
  • Citizenship: Proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residency.
  • Driver’s License: A valid driver’s license is generally required.
  1. Application Process:
  • Application: Submit an application to the department you are interested in. Some departments may require a fee.
  • Written Exam: Pass a written examination that usually covers basic mathematics, reading comprehension, and reasoning skills.
  • Background Check: Undergo a thorough background check, which may include criminal history, driving record, and references.
  • Medical Examination: Pass a comprehensive medical examination, which may include drug screening.
  1. Skills and Aptitude Testing:
  • Physical Ability Test: Complete a physical ability test, often including tasks like lifting heavy equipment, climbing ladders, and other activities related to firefighting.
  • Psychological Test: Some departments may require a psychological evaluation.
  • Oral Interview: Successfully complete an interview process, often before a panel of department members.
  1. Fire Academy Training:
  • Fire Academy Admission: Once accepted, attend a fire academy for formal training, which will include firefighting techniques, fire prevention, hazardous materials handling, and first aid. This training is often governed by the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute or similar agencies.
  1. Probationary Period:
  • On-the-Job Training: After graduating from the academy, you will usually go through a probationary period where you will work under the supervision of senior firefighters.
  1. Certifications:
  • EMT or Paramedic: Many departments also require firefighters to be licensed Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) or paramedics. You’ll need to take additional courses and pass another set of exams for this.
  • Continuous Learning: Firefighters are often required to complete regular ongoing training and may choose to specialize in areas like hazardous materials, rescue operations, or fire prevention.
  1. State-Specific Requirements:
  • Maryland-Specific Certifications: Some localities may have additional state-specific certification requirements. Always check with your local department for the most current information.

Remember, each fire department in Maryland may have its own specific hiring process and requirements, so it’s essential to consult with the specific department to which you’re applying for the most accurate information.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Firefighter in Maryland

The time it takes to become a firefighter in Maryland can vary significantly depending on a number of factors including the specific requirements of the department you are interested in, whether you need to become an EMT or paramedic, and the frequency and length of academy classes. Here’s a general breakdown of the time commitment involved in each step:

Educational Requirements

High School Diploma or GED: Up to 12 years of general education, although this is usually completed by adults before considering a career as a firefighter.

Basic Requirements and Application Process

Application and Testing: This could take several weeks to a few months, including time to prepare for and take written and physical tests.

Skills and Aptitude Testing

Physical and Psychological Exams, Background Check: This could take several weeks to a few months depending on the department’s timeline and the speed of background checks.

Fire Academy Training

Fire Academy: In Maryland, the fire academy can last anywhere from 3 to 6 months for full-time programs. Part-time programs may take longer, potentially up to a year or more.

EMT or Paramedic Training

EMT Training: Basic EMT training can take approximately 6 months.

Paramedic Training: If required or desired, paramedic training is more in-depth and can take up to 1 to 2 years.

Probationary Period

On-the-Job Training: After graduation, a probationary period may last from 6 months to a year depending on the department.

Optional Specialized Training

Specialized Roles: If you wish to specialize in areas like hazardous materials, water rescue, or others, additional training and certification may take extra time, potentially ranging from a few weeks to several months.

Total Time

If you sum up these periods, you’re looking at a minimum of around 1 to 2 years after high school to become a firefighter in Maryland if everything lines up efficiently. This does not include potential waiting periods between application and hiring, which can vary widely from one department to another.

However, it’s crucial to note that these are general timelines and the exact duration can vary widely based on many factors, including the specific department’s hiring cycle, how long it takes to complete necessary exams, and whether additional certifications or specializations are pursued. Always check with the specific department for the most accurate information.

How Much Do Firefighters Earn in Maryland

Firefighters in Maryland earned the following income according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2022):

Annual Mean Income: $60,560

Annual Median Income: $60,760.

Career Outlook of Firefighters in Maryland

As per O*Net OnLine, firefighters employed in Maryland will experience job growth of 16% between 2020 and 2030.

Picking the Right Degree to Become a Firefighter in Maryland

While a college degree is not universally required to become a firefighter, having one can offer a competitive edge during the hiring process and may open doors for career advancement. In Maryland, as in other states, you have several options if you’re considering further education to enhance your firefighting career prospects. Below are some educational pathways that prospective firefighters often consider:

Associate’s Degree in Fire Science

Duration: 2 years

Focus: Basic fire behavior, fire prevention, emergency medical services, hazardous materials, and firefighting tactics.

Benefits: Provides foundational knowledge and can improve employment prospects.

Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Science or Fire Engineering

Duration: 4 years

Focus: Advanced fire behavior, fire prevention, fire engineering, management courses, and often internships or co-op programs with local fire departments.

Benefits: Helpful for those looking to move into managerial roles or specialized areas like fire investigation or fire engineering.

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or Paramedic Certification

Duration: A few weeks to 6 months for EMT; 1-2 years for paramedic.

Focus: Emergency medical procedures, first aid, and patient care.

Benefits: Many fire departments require or prefer EMT or paramedic certification, and these courses can often be completed alongside fire science programs.

Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration or Emergency Management

Duration: 4 years

Focus: Broader view of emergency services, disaster planning, crisis management, and public policy.

Benefits: Useful for those interested in leadership roles or in working in larger, more complex emergency service environments.

Master’s Degree in Public Administration or Emergency Management

Duration: 1-2 years (after a bachelor’s degree)

Focus: Advanced concepts in leadership, policy, and emergency services management.

Benefits: For those looking to advance into upper-level management or policy-making roles.

Certifications and Continuous Learning

Focus: Specialized areas like hazardous materials, search and rescue, water rescue, etc.

Benefits: Opens doors for specialization within the field of firefighting.

Factors to Consider

  • Accreditation: Make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a reputable accrediting body.
  • Flexibility: Consider how the program fits into your current lifestyle. Many institutions offer part-time or online options.
  • Career Goals: Your choice of degree should align with your career goals, whether that is to become a firefighter, a fire investigator, a fire service manager, or to enter a specialized field.
  • Financial Factors: Tuition, availability of financial aid, and potential for scholarships are also important to consider.
  • Local Requirements: Always check local and state requirements for firefighters in Maryland to ensure that the degree and certifications you pursue will meet those requirements.
  • Networking: Programs with strong links to local fire departments or emergency services can offer valuable networking opportunities that may help in the job search.

By considering your career goals and doing thorough research, you can select the educational pathway that offers the best preparation for becoming a firefighter in Maryland.

Firefighter Colleges in Maryland

Maryland offers various opportunities for aspiring firefighters to get the education and training they need. Here are some of the educational institutions in Maryland where you can find relevant programs:

Anne Arundel Community College

Location: Arnold, MD

Programs: Anne Arundel Community College provides an associate degree in Fire Science and also offers Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Basic and Paramedic certification courses. These programs equip students with both theoretical and practical knowledge for a career in firefighting.

Montgomery College

Location: Campuses in Rockville, Germantown, and Takoma Park/Silver Spring, MD

Programs: Montgomery College offers an associate degree in Fire Science as well as Fire and Emergency Services Management. It also provides EMT courses. The programs are designed to give aspiring firefighters the basic and advanced skills they’ll need in the field.

College of Southern Maryland

Location: La Plata, MD

Programs: The College of Southern Maryland offers an associate degree in Fire Science Technology. It also provides EMT and Paramedic training programs, preparing students for a range of roles in emergency services.

Frederick Community College

Location: Frederick, MD

Programs: This college offers a Fire Science program along with Emergency Management courses. They also have EMT and Paramedic programs for those interested in the medical aspects of firefighting.

Howard Community College

Location: Columbia, MD

Programs: While it may not offer a fire science program per se, Howard Community College does offer Paramedic and EMT programs, which can be crucial certifications for firefighters to hold.

Prince George’s Community College

Location: Largo, MD

Programs: PGCC offers Fire Science Technology and EMT programs. The courses prepare students for careers in fire services and emergency medical services.

University of Maryland, College Park

Location: College Park, MD

Programs: The University offers a specialized Bachelor’s degree in Fire Protection Engineering. This program is for those who are more interested in the engineering aspects of fire safety.

University of Maryland, University College (UMGC)

Location: Adelphi, MD

Programs: UMGC offers degrees in Public Safety Administration and Emergency Management. These programs are generally geared towards those looking to take on leadership roles in emergency services.

Towson University

Location: Towson, MD

Programs: Towson offers an Interdisciplinary Studies program where students can focus on areas like Emergency Health Services, potentially useful for a career in firefighting.

Specialized Institutes:

Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute (MFRI)

Location: Various locations throughout Maryland

Programs: MFRI provides an array of specialized fire service training programs. Many of these are used by Maryland’s firefighting agencies for professional development.

Before enrolling in any program, it is advisable to:

  • Confirm that the program is accredited and recognized by relevant authorities.
  • Consult with mentors or advisors in the field to make sure the program aligns with your career goals.
  • Investigate whether the program offers practical experience, which is invaluable for a firefighter’s training.
  • Consult with individual fire departments for their specific educational requirements.
  • Always consult the most current information directly from the educational institution or relevant department for the most accurate and updated details.

Fire Departments in Maryland

Maryland is home to numerous fire departments that serve its diverse communities, from large urban areas to smaller towns and rural settings. These departments vary in size, resources, and specific responsibilities, but all are committed to providing emergency services, fire prevention, and public safety. Below are some notable fire departments in Maryland:

Baltimore City Fire Department

Location: Baltimore, MD

Notes: One of the largest fire departments in Maryland, the Baltimore City Fire Department provides comprehensive fire protection, emergency medical services, and public safety education to the city of Baltimore.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service

Location: Montgomery County, MD

Notes: Serving one of the most populous counties in Maryland, this department is responsible for a wide array of services including fire suppression, EMS, and specialized rescue operations.

Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department

Location: Prince George’s County, MD

Notes: This department offers an integrated approach to emergency services, providing both fire and emergency medical services to communities in Prince George’s County.

Anne Arundel County Fire Department

Location: Anne Arundel County, MD

Notes: Serving communities like Annapolis, Glen Burnie, and Severna Park, this department provides fire, rescue, and emergency medical services.

Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services

Location: Howard County, MD

Notes: This department provides a range of services including fire suppression, EMS, and community outreach in Howard County.

Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services

Location: Frederick County, MD

Notes: This department serves Frederick County with fire suppression, emergency medical services, and specialized rescue capabilities.

Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association

Location: Carroll County, MD

Notes: This is an association of volunteer fire departments in Carroll County, offering fire protection and emergency medical services to the community.

Harford County Volunteer Fire and EMS Association

Location: Harford County, MD

Notes: This association oversees volunteer fire and EMS companies throughout Harford County, providing a range of services to the local community.

Ocean City Fire Department

Location: Ocean City, MD

Notes: Specializing in both fire suppression and ocean rescue, this department serves the popular tourist destination of Ocean City.

Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad

Location: Bethesda, MD

Notes: This volunteer organization works in conjunction with Montgomery County to provide emergency medical services, fire suppression, and technical rescue services.

Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute (MFRI)

Location: Various locations throughout Maryland

Notes: Although not a fire department, MFRI is significant for providing training and resources to fire departments across Maryland.

It’s important to note that some of these departments are staffed by career firefighters, while others may be volunteer organizations or a combination of both. Each department will have its own hiring requirements, protocols, and areas of specialization. Always consult with individual fire departments for the most current and accurate information.