Whether you are a high school graduate looking to become a firefighter or want to change your career path, make sure you have all the information before entering the field. According to the 2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Texas is second on the list of the states with the highest employment level for firefighters. The estimated employment for firefighters in Texas is 25,080.Firefighting is a rewarding career and provides plenty of job satisfaction.

As first responders, they get to save lives and property, work as a team, and play a positive role in community. No doubt a challenging profession, it comes with many risks and being constantly on call. So, before you decide to go ahead with the profession, make sure you are completely convinced that it is the right job for you.

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How to Become a Firefighter in Texas
How to Become a Firefighter in Texas

Firefighter Job Duties in Texas

The job description for a firefighter can vary slightly depending on the specific location and department, but here is a general outline of what the job description of a firefighter in Texas might include:

Job Title



Fire & Rescue Services


Various Fire Stations within the jurisdiction

Reports To

Fire Captain / Fire Lieutenant

Position Summary

Respond to fire emergencies, medical incidents, and other rescue situations to protect life, property, and the environment. Work under the direction of a Fire Captain or Fire Lieutenant.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

Emergency Response

Respond to fires, medical emergencies, hazardous materials incidents, rescues, and other emergency and non-emergency situations.

Fire Suppression

Operate various types of fire equipment and tools to suppress fires, including hoses, extinguishers, and fire suppression agents.

Medical Assistance

Provide basic and/or advanced life support, depending on certification, and assist paramedics in the delivery of medical care.

Equipment Operation

Safely operate fire vehicles and other apparatus during emergency operations.


Perform routine maintenance on fire vehicles, equipment, and tools to ensure operational readiness.


Participate in regular inspections of properties for fire hazards and enforce fire codes.


Participate in ongoing training and education programs to maintain and enhance skills and certifications.

Public Education

Engage in community outreach and education initiatives, including fire safety talks and demonstrations.

Administrative Duties

Complete incident reports, participate in department meetings, and perform other administrative duties as assigned.


Work closely with other emergency service personnel, including police and EMS, to provide coordinated and effective emergency response.

Challenges Faced by Firefighters in Texas

Firefighters in Texas face a unique set of challenges due to the state’s vast geographical area, diverse climate, and range of urban and rural environments. Here are some of the main challenges they encounter:

Extreme Weather Conditions

Texas is prone to a variety of extreme weather events, such as hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, tornadoes in the Panhandle and North Texas, and severe thunderstorms throughout the state. These weather conditions can lead to dangerous situations for both firefighters and residents, including flash flooding and lightning strikes.


The state’s large rural areas, particularly in West Texas and the Hill Country, are susceptible to wildfires. Drought conditions, often exacerbated by climate change, increase the frequency and intensity of these fires, posing significant risks to both firefighters and communities.

Urban Challenges

In major cities like Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin, firefighters face challenges unique to urban environments. These include high-rise fires, complex rescue operations in densely populated areas, and the potential for hazardous materials incidents.

Training and Resources

Ensuring that all firefighters, particularly those in rural volunteer fire departments, have access to adequate training and resources can be challenging. The diversity of emergencies requires specialized training and equipment.

Communication and Coordination

Effective communication and coordination are crucial, especially when dealing with large-scale incidents that may span multiple jurisdictions. This includes coordinating with other emergency services, such as police and EMS, as well as with state and federal agencies.

Health Risks

Firefighting is physically demanding and can have long-term health impacts. Firefighters are at risk of injuries, smoke inhalation, and stress-related illnesses. Additionally, the nature of their work increases their risk of certain cancers due to exposure to hazardous materials.

Public Education and Prevention

Firefighters in Texas also engage in public education efforts to prevent fires and educate the community about safety practices. This is especially important in areas prone to wildfires, where public awareness can significantly reduce risks.

Resource Allocation in Large-Scale Disasters

In the event of state-wide emergencies like hurricanes or massive wildfires, allocating resources effectively across the vast geography of Texas can be challenging. This requires strategic planning and efficient use of available resources.

These challenges require ongoing training, adequate funding, and strong community support to ensure that firefighters in Texas can effectively protect and serve their communities.

Requirements and Process to Become a Firefighter in Texas

To become a firefighter in Texas, candidates must meet a series of requirements and undergo specific processes. Here’s a detailed overview based on information from the Texas Commission on Fire Protection:

Fire Suppression Training Program

Candidates must complete a commission-approved Structure Fire Suppression training program. This program includes a variety of hands-on skills such as operating a fire extinguisher, raising a ladder, and donning a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). The training program is comprehensive and emphasizes safety in performing these tasks​​.

Performance Evaluation

After attending a commission-certified training program, candidates undergo a formal evaluation of their performance of randomly selected skills. This evaluation is conducted by a commission-approved field examiner​​.

Written Exam

Candidates must qualify for and pass all four sections of the structure exam with a passing score of 70% or higher on each section. This is the written part of the state examination process​​.

Medical Training Documentation

Before eligibility for basic certification, candidates must submit documentation of medical training equivalent to Emergency Medical Responder, Emergency Care Attendant, Emergency Medical Technician, or Paramedic certification​​​​.

Fingerprint-Based Background Check

A fingerprint-based background check is mandatory for all candidates, which must be completed at an IdentoGo office. This requirement applies even if the candidate has undergone a similar check for another agency​​​​.

Application for Certification

Candidates must apply for certification through the TCFP’s FIDO system. This includes creating an invoice for the certification fee, which can be paid by credit card for immediate issuance of the certificate​​.

Account Creation and Eligibility Check

Candidates should create a FIDO account to check their current eligibility for certification. The FIDO account displays eligibility only after meeting all requirements for a specific discipline/level​​.

Exemptions from Exam Requirement

Candidates who hold an IFSAC seal or TEEX ProBoard certificate may be exempt from the structural exam requirement. These certifications include NFPA 472 Hazardous Materials Awareness and Operations, NFPA 1001 Structural Fire Fighter I and II, and courses taught to the 2008 (or later) edition of NFPA 1001​​​​​​.

This comprehensive process ensures that individuals aspiring to become firefighters in Texas are adequately trained and prepared for the challenges of the profession.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Firefighter in Texas

The time it takes to become a firefighter in Texas can vary depending on several factors, including the length of the training program, personal commitment, and the specific requirements of the local fire department or agency. Here’s a general breakdown:

Firefighter Training Program: The duration of firefighter training programs in Texas can vary. Some programs, especially those offered by community colleges or technical schools, may last a few months to a year. These programs often combine classroom instruction with practical, hands-on training.

Emergency Medical Training: Becoming certified as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or obtaining similar medical training is a common requirement for firefighters. EMT certification programs typically take about six months to complete, though accelerated courses can be shorter.

Application and Examination Process: After completing the necessary training, candidates must pass the state’s firefighting examination and other assessments such as physical agility tests. The time it takes to prepare for and schedule these exams can add to the timeline.

Background Check and Additional Requirements: Completing the background check and meeting any additional requirements, such as physical exams or interviews, can also take additional time.

In total, the process can take anywhere from about 6 months to over a year, depending on the specific path taken and the speed at which each step is completed. It’s important for candidates to check with local fire departments or the Texas Commission on Fire Protection for specific requirements and timelines, as these can vary.

How Much Does a Firefighter Make in Texas

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, firefighters in Texas made an annual mean income of $53,630 in 2022. Every fire department in the state will have different salary brackets for different levels of firefighters. Below are some salary figures for different firefighting jobs in the state as mentioned on the Texas Commission on Fire Protection website.

DepartmentPositionAnnual Salary
Randall County Fire DepartmentFire Fighter/EMT$48,104
Travis County Fire RescueFire Fighter/EMTStarting base – $60,000
Beaumont Fire/RescueFire Fighter/ EMT$65,700
Bellaire Fire DepartmentFire Fighter/ Paramedic$67,371.32
Cisco Fire DepartmentFire Fighter/ EMT$47,704.80

Career Outlook for Firefighters in Texas

As per the latest data provided by O*NetOnline, the employment growth for firefighters in Texas between 2020 and 2030 is expected to be 14%. This will result in 2,290 new job openings during this period.

Firefighting Careers in Texas

Firefighting careers in Texas offer a variety of opportunities for individuals interested in public service, emergency response, and community involvement. Here is an overview of what to expect when pursuing a firefighting career in Texas:

Types of Firefighting Careers

Municipal Firefighter: These firefighters work in cities and towns and are usually full-time employees. They respond to fires, medical emergencies, and other incidents within their jurisdiction.

Wildland Firefighter: Texas, being a state with varied terrains including forests and grasslands, has a need for wildland firefighters who combat forest fires and brush fires.

Industrial Firefighter: Some large industrial complexes, especially in the oil and gas sector, employ their own firefighters.

Airport Firefighter: Airports require specialized firefighters trained to deal with aircraft fires and other aviation-related emergencies.

Fire Investigator: These professionals investigate the cause of fires and may work for fire departments, insurance companies, or independent agencies.

Fire Instructor/Trainer: Experienced firefighters may move into roles where they train new recruits or provide ongoing education for active firefighters.


Education: At minimum, a high school diploma or GED is usually required.

Certifications: You’ll need to be certified by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection (TCFP) and possibly hold an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or Paramedic certification.

Physical Fitness: A stringent physical test is usually a part of the selection process.

Background Check: A thorough background check, including criminal history, is standard.

Driving Record: A valid Texas Driver’s License with a clean driving record is generally required.


Fire Academy: Training at a certified Fire Academy is a critical step and covers firefighting basics, emergency medical procedures, and more.

Probation: New hires usually go through a probationary period where they work under close supervision.

Continued Education: Firefighters are expected to continue their education and training throughout their careers, including specialized areas like hazardous materials handling or high-angle rescue.

Job Prospects

Demand: Texas has many large cities like Houston, Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio, as well as numerous smaller towns and rural areas, each with their own firefighting needs.

Salary: The salary can vary widely depending on the location, size of the department, and level of experience.

Advancement: Opportunities for promotion usually exist, with roles like Fire Lieutenant, Fire Captain, and Fire Chief as possible career advancements.

Benefits: Retirement plans, health insurance, and other benefits are usually part of the compensation package.


Physical and Emotional Stress: The job is physically demanding and can be emotionally stressful.

Work Schedule: Firefighters often work long shifts, including nights, weekends, and holidays.

Risk: Despite advances in technology and equipment, firefighting remains a hazardous occupation.

Public Scrutiny: As public servants, firefighters’ actions are often under scrutiny, requiring a high level of professionalism at all times.

If you’re interested in a firefighting career in Texas, it’s advisable to start by contacting local fire departments or educational institutions that offer fire science programs to get information about specific requirements and opportunities in your area.

Choosing the Right Firefighting Degree and Concentrations in Texas

Choosing the right firefighting degree and concentration in Texas involves considering your career goals, the specific requirements of fire departments in the state, and the educational opportunities available. Here’s a guide to help you make an informed decision:

Understand Your Career Goals

  • Frontline Firefighting: If your primary goal is to be a frontline firefighter, a degree specifically in fire science or fire administration might be the best fit.
  • Leadership Roles: For those aiming for leadership positions within the fire service, such as fire chief or fire marshal, a bachelor’s or master’s degree in fire science, emergency management, or public administration could be more appropriate.
  • Specialized Roles: If you’re interested in specialized roles like fire investigation or fire prevention, consider concentrations or courses that focus on these areas.

Explore Degree Options

  • Associate Degrees: These are typically two-year programs focused on the basics of firefighting, fire prevention, and emergency medical services. They are a good starting point for entry-level positions.
  • Bachelor’s Degrees: These four-year programs offer a more comprehensive education, covering advanced topics in fire science, leadership, and emergency management.
  • Master’s Degrees: For advanced leadership roles or academic careers in fire science, a master’s degree can provide in-depth knowledge and research opportunities.

Consider Concentrations and Specializations

  • Fire Science: Focuses on fire behavior, firefighting tactics, and fire prevention.
  • Emergency Medical Services (EMS): Ideal for those who want to combine firefighting with paramedic training.
  • Fire Investigation and Forensics: For careers in determining the causes of fires.
  • Emergency Management: Focuses on preparing for and managing large-scale emergencies.
  • Public Administration: Suitable for those interested in high-level administrative roles in fire services.

Check Accreditation and Curriculum

  • Ensure the program is accredited and aligns with the standards of professional firefighting bodies.
  • Look for programs that offer practical training opportunities, internships, or connections with local fire departments.

Location and Flexibility

  • Consider the location of the institution and whether it offers online, part-time, or evening classes if you are already working in the field.

Connect with Professionals

  • Speak with current firefighters, instructors, or mentors for advice on suitable programs and career paths.

Research Financial Aid and Scholarships

  • Look for scholarships, grants, or tuition assistance programs specifically for firefighting students.

Texas-Specific Considerations

  • Research the specific needs and preferences of Texas fire departments, as some may prefer certain degrees or certifications.
  • Consider the geographic and environmental aspects of Texas, as some programs might offer specialized training relevant to the state’s unique challenges, like wildfire management.

By carefully considering these factors, you can choose a firefighting degree and concentration that aligns with your career aspirations and meets the demands of the firefighting profession in Texas.

Fire Departments in Texas

Texas has a wide variety of fire departments, ranging from small volunteer outfits serving rural communities to large, professional organizations serving major cities. Here are some types and examples of fire departments in Texas:

Large City Fire Departments

These departments serve major cities in Texas and are typically well-funded and well-staffed, offering a wide range of services.

Houston Fire Department – One of the largest fire departments in the United States, serving the city of Houston.

Dallas Fire-Rescue Department – Provides comprehensive firefighting, rescue, and emergency medical services in the city of Dallas.

San Antonio Fire Department – Covers the city of San Antonio, providing fire suppression, emergency medical services, and other specialized services.

Austin Fire Department – Serves the capital city of Texas, Austin, with an array of services from fire suppression to public education.

Suburban and Smaller City Departments

These departments serve suburban communities or smaller cities and may offer a combination of professional and volunteer opportunities.

Plano Fire-Rescue – Serves the city of Plano, providing a variety of emergency services.

Fort Worth Fire Department – Provides emergency services to the Fort Worth area.

Arlington Fire Department – Serves the Arlington community with services ranging from fire suppression to community outreach programs.

Specialized Fire Departments

Some departments serve specific needs and areas, such as airports or industrial complexes.

DFW Airport Fire Services – Serves Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Port of Houston Fire Department – Specializes in handling fires and other emergencies at one of the busiest ports in America.

Volunteer and Combination Departments

Many rural communities and smaller towns in Texas rely on volunteer firefighters. Some departments are “combination” departments, with both career and volunteer firefighters.

Gruene Volunteer Fire Department – Serves the Gruene community as a volunteer organization.

Boerne Fire Department – A combination department serving the city of Boerne, Texas.

Wildland Firefighting

In addition to municipal fire departments, Texas also has organizations dedicated to fighting wildfires.

Texas A&M Forest Service – Involved in fighting and preventing wildfires across the state.

Texas Wildfire Relief Fund – Provides assistance to volunteer firefighters fighting wildfires.

Please note that this information is subject to change, and it’s advisable to visit the official websites of these departments or contact them directly for the most current information.

Wildland Fires and Acres Burned by State and Agency

AgencyFires – HumanAcres – HumanFires – LightningAcres – LightningFires – TotalAcres – Total

Source: National Interagency Coordination Center Wildfire Summary and Statistics Annual Report (2022)

Firefighters Training Academies in Texas

Texas offers several reputable firefighter training academies, each with its unique strengths and training approaches. Here are some of the notable academies in Texas:

Texas Fire Academy

This academy is known for its innovative approach, offering both physical and online classes. Their curriculum focuses on conventional and advanced firefighting methods. The academy also emphasizes career skills development, preparing students for various roles in the fire service, including leadership positions. The program can be completed in about eight months, catering to students who may have other commitments​​.

North Texas Fire Academy

Accredited by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection, this academy offers high-standard education, focusing on both foundational and advanced skills required for firefighting. Their curriculum adheres to the National Fire Protection Association Standards and the International Fire Accreditation Congress. Programs here include Basic Structural Fire Fighters, Firefighter II Certification, and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), taking about 5 to 9 months to complete​​.

Training Division Fire Academy

Also accredited by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection, this academy offers a personalized approach to training, with a focus on understanding the roles and responsibilities of firefighters. They prioritize safety education and ensure students learn to perform their duties effectively. The academy has partnerships with various organizations to enhance the professional, academic, and social development of its students​​.

El Paso Department Training Academy

This academy provides both theoretical and practical education for firefighting aspirants. They are known for their comprehensive curriculum, delivered by seasoned instructors. The academy aims to equip students with in-depth knowledge of firefighting, preparing them for the demands of the profession​​.

Austin Fire Academy

As one of the top-ranking firefighter academies in Texas, Austin Fire Academy offers a 17-week academic program. The academy is known for its high standard of learning and advanced practical sessions, which prepare students for real-life firefighting scenarios. Admission to this academy can be competitive due to its high acceptance rate​​.

TEEX Fire Training Academy

Located at Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, this academy offers a 12-week program consisting of classroom and hands-on field application training. They focus on preparing cadets for success as entry-level firefighters, emphasizing academic excellence, teamwork, leadership skills, and professional behavior​​.

Austin Community College Fire Training Academy (ACCFTA)

This intensive semester-long program includes classroom and hands-on instruction to certify firefighters in Texas. The program requires daily attendance and includes a physical training course. Classes are held Monday through Friday, with each session lasting 17 weeks​​.

These academies offer diverse training experiences, ranging from traditional classroom settings to online learning options, catering to a wide range of student needs and schedules. When choosing an academy, it’s important to consider factors like accreditation, curriculum focus, program length, and the type of training provided to ensure it aligns with your career goals in firefighting.

1)Texas Employment Trends: 33-2011.00 – Firefighters: https://www.onetonline.org/link/localtrends/33-2011.00?st=TX
2)Job Postings | Texas Commission on Fire Protection: https://www.tcfp.texas.gov/fireservice-careers
3)Firefighters: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes332011.htm

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