According to the U.S. Fire Administration, in 2021, out of 1,000 fires, there were 2.7 deaths and 11.6 injuries in the state of Illinois. This is a worrisome figure as the nationwide figures for deaths and injuries were 2.3 and 7.2 respectively.

There were 16,210 firefighters working in Illinois as of May 2022, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you want to join their ranks, this article details all the information you need.

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Process to Become a Firefighter in Illinois
How to Become a Firefighter in Illinois

Steps to Become a Firefighter in Illinois

To become a firefighter in Illinois, one must follow these steps:

Educational Requirements
  • The minimum educational requirement is a high school diploma or GED​​​​​​.
Age and Residency Requirements
  • Candidates must be at least 20 years old at the time of application and 21 at the time of appointment. The age limit is typically 34 years. Candidates must be U.S. residents and possess a valid state driver’s license​​​​.
Physical and Mental Fitness
  • Firefighting is a physically and mentally demanding job, so candidates need to be physically and mentally strong.
Basic Operations Firefighter Certification
  • As mandated by the Illinois Officer of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM), candidates must pass a 180-hour Basic Operations Firefighter (BOF) certification course​​.
EMT Training
  • While not mandatory, EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) training is highly recommended
CPAT Certification
  • Candidates must obtain a Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) certificate. This should be acquired well before applying for a firefighter position.
Firefighter Training Programs
  • Various training schools and college courses are available in Illinois for firefighting education and training. Some notable institutions include Illinois Fire Service Institute, Parkland College, University of Illinois Fire Service Institute, and Chicago Police and Firefighter Training Academy.
Additional Requirements
  • The hiring process usually includes interviews, background checks, and physical agility tests. Some departments may consider waivers for candidates with military backgrounds.

These steps form the basic pathway for becoming a firefighter in Illinois, with specific requirements potentially varying slightly between different fire departments.

Salary of Firefighters in Illinois

As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics latest figures, firefighters in Illinois earned:

  • Annual Mean Salary: $68,030.
  • Annual Median Salary: $69,030.

The table below shows starting salaries for firefighters pertaining to fire departments of two major cities in Illinois:

Chicago Fire DepartmentFirefighter$62,160.00 per year
Rockford Fire DepartmentFirefighter$59,987.94 per year

Firefighters Training Academies in Illinois

In Illinois, there are several major firefighter training academies for new recruits:

University of Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI)

  • The Basic Firefighter / NFPA Firefighter I Academy at IFSI is designed to provide practical and cognitive training for new firefighters. This academy exceeds the entry-level firefighter training requirements of the Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal.

NIPSTA Fire Academy

  • The NIPSTA Fire Academy offers a 320-hour Basic Operations Firefighter program, which satisfies the State of Illinois Basic Firefighter Certification requirements and caters to the year-round needs of fire departments and fire protection districts.

Chicago Fire Department Training Academy

  • This academy is specifically for recruits looking to join the Chicago Fire Department. It provides essential training for new recruits, with a focus on meeting the department’s specific training needs.

Parkland College

  • In addition to these academies, Parkland College, in collaboration with the Illinois Fire Service Institute, provides courses and training for aspiring firefighters.

These academies offer comprehensive training programs that equip new recruits with the necessary skills and knowledge for a career in firefighting. The training includes both practical and theoretical aspects, ensuring that recruits are well-prepared for the challenges of the job.

1)Illinois Fire Loss and Fire Department Profile:
2)Fire Recruiting | Rockford, IL:
3)City of Chicago :: CFD Job Requirements:

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