Firefighters in Iowa are those bravest of the brave individuals who save people and their property from burning to ashes. Not only do they fight fires erupting in homes, offices, schools, and other places, firefighters are also among the first people on the scene every time there is a road accident or a similar emergency. As per the data published by the US Fire Administration, Iowa recorded 1.2 deaths and 5.6 injuries per 1,000 fires, while the national figures were 2.3 deaths and 7.2 injuries.

As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2,260 firefighters were working in the state. If you want to become a firefighter in Iowa, then this article covers all the details.

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Steps to Become a Firefighter in Iowa

To become a firefighter in Iowa, there are several essential steps and requirements to consider. The foundational requirements include:

Age and Residency
  • You must be at least 18 years old and a resident of the state, holding U.S. citizenship. It’s important to note that while some smaller departments may hire candidates right out of high school, larger city departments like Des Moines require candidates to be at least 21 years old​​​​.
Valid Driver’s License and Education
  • Possessing a valid state driver’s license and a high school diploma or GED is mandatory.
EMT Training
  • While not a strict requirement, EMT training is highly recommended and often essential, especially for urban firefighters who need skills in fire suppression, urban rescue, and emergency medical treatment​​​​.
Background Check
  • Fire departments in Iowa will conduct a thorough background check, reviewing your employment record and criminal history for any red flags. This includes juvenile incidents or minor drug offenses. Maintaining a clean driver’s license and staying away from illegal substances is crucial.
Physical and Written Tests
  • Preparing for the written test and Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) is vital. The CPAT can be particularly challenging, requiring strength and endurance.
Fire Science Education
  • Many universities and colleges in Iowa offer fire science programs. These include Kaplan University (now known as Purdue), which offers a Fire Science Degree Program, and several community colleges across the state.
  • The Fire Service Training Bureau in Ames provides vocational education and hands-on training for required certifications. This education can be critical for both entry-level positions and for advancing in your firefighting career.
  • The Iowa Department of Public Safety oversees the Accreditation/Certification Program. This program schedules both written and practical exams across the state and issues multiple nationally accredited fire service certifications.
  • These certifications demonstrate a candidate’s competency in various areas of training and adherence to national standards. Key certifications include Firefighter I and II, each with specific procedures guides and skill sheets​​​​.

It’s essential to continuously update and expand your knowledge and skills throughout your career, as the challenges faced by firefighters can vary significantly based on their location within the state. Whether in urban settings or rural communities, ongoing training and a commitment to learning are crucial for success in this field.

Salary of Firefighters in Iowa

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that firefighter salary in Iowa was:

  • Annual Mean Salary: $45,360.
  • Annual Median Salary: $44,850.

As a point of reference, the below table shows starting salaries for firefighters for two fire departments in Iowa:

Des Moines Fire DepartmentFirefighter73,199.00 per year
Iowa City Fire DepartmentFirefighter59,754.76 per year

Career Outlook for Firefighters in Iowa

O*Net Online has projected a job growth of 15% for firefighters in Iowa between 2020 and 2030.

Firefighters Training Academies in Iowa

In Iowa, there are several certified firefighter training academies for new recruits. These academies offer various courses and training programs to prepare recruits for a career in firefighting. Some of the notable academies include:

Fire Service Training Bureau

  • Located in Ames, this is the State Fire Academy of Iowa and offers a range of courses in firefighting, hazardous materials, vehicle extrication, technical rescue, and more. It provides basic to advanced level courses and is accredited by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) and the National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications (ProBoard).

Iowa Western Community College

  • Situated in Council Bluffs, this college offers fire courses for aspiring firefighters.

Iowa Valley Community College

  • Located in Marshalltown, it provides fire courses suitable for new recruits.

Hawkeye Community College

  • Based in Waterloo, this college also offers fire courses for those looking to become firefighters.

Iowa Central Community College

  • In Fort Dodge, this community college provides fire courses tailored for firefighter training.

These academies offer a mix of academic and practical training essential for firefighting. They cover various aspects of firefighting, including fire suppression, rescue operations, emergency medical services, and handling hazardous materials. The training typically includes both classroom instruction and hands-on training in real-life scenarios.

1)Iowa Employment Trends – Firefighters:
2)Apply to be a Firefighter EMT in Des Moines:
3)Iowa Fire Loss and Fire Department Profile:
4)Firefighter Recruitment | Iowa City, IA:

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