Thinking of starting a career as a firefighter? A noble profession, firefighters are of great importance to the community as they are the first responders in an emergency situation. One of the main reasons that drive people to pursue firefighting as a career is saving lives. As per the US Fire Administration, Massachusetts recorded 1.8 deaths and 8.7 injuries per 1,000 fires.
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To become a firefighter in Massachusetts it is important to pass the civil service test and be eligible to begin training at the Department of Fire Services Massachusetts Firefighting Academy. According to the 2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Massachusetts 11,730 firefighters were working in the state.
Steps to Become a Firefighter in Massachusetts
To become a firefighter in Massachusetts, one must follow a structured path that involves education, physical fitness, interpersonal skills development, a clear career plan, and successful completion of the required examinations and training programs. Here are the key steps:
- Aspiring firefighters should have a solid understanding of English, math, and the sciences. Higher education, especially a college degree in fire science, is advantageous.
- Developing the ability to work in groups and get along with diverse individuals is critical. Participation in team sports, student government, clubs, and part-time jobs can help build these skills.
- Maintaining excellent physical condition, with a focus on strength, endurance, flexibility, and agility, is essential for the demanding nature of firefighting.
- Consider whether you want to work in a city, town, or suburb. Make a list of desired places to work and schedule meetings with fire chiefs in those departments to discuss job opportunities and career goals.
- Some cities and towns in Massachusetts require firefighters to be civil servants. Check if the location you’re interested in falls under this category and if you need to take a civil service exam.
- The first formal step in the process is applying for the firefighter exam, which includes both written and physical components. After passing these exams, your name will be placed on the list for consideration for hire.
- The 2023 Municipal Firefighter Examination, for example, consists of a written test and an entry-level physical ability test (ELPAT). The application process has specific deadlines, and there are fees associated with the exam. It’s essential to stay informed about these dates and requirements.
- Once employed, firefighters receive training at the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy. This training, provided at no cost to cities and towns, occurs at the academy’s campuses in Stow, Springfield, and Bridgewater, as well as at local fire departments. The academy offers fire officer training and over 300 continuing education courses, open to members of Massachusetts fire departments and public fire departments in other states.
Salary of Firefighters in Massachusetts
Firefighters in Massachusetts earned the following amounts per year, as per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Annual Mean Salary: $66,640.
- Annual Median Salary: $61,570.
The below table shows starting salaries for firefighters were working for two major fire departments in the state:
|Boston Fire Department
|65,000.00 per year
|Town of Plymouth Fire Department
|60,776.04 per year
Career Outlook for Firefighters in Massachusetts
According to O*Net Online, firefighters in Massachusetts will experience an 8% increase in employment opportunities between 2020 and 2030.
Firefighters Training Academies in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, there are several certified firefighter training academies for new recruits, offering comprehensive programs to prepare them for a career in firefighting. The primary and most extensive training is provided by the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy (MFA), but there are also localized programs such as the Cambridge Fire Academy and the Boston Fire Academy.
Massachusetts Firefighting Academy (MFA)
- The MFA is the primary training facility for municipal fire service personnel in Massachusetts.
- Training is provided free of charge to cities and towns.
- MFA has campuses in Stow, Springfield, and Bridgewater, as well as local fire departments.
- They offer fire officer training and over 300 continuing education courses.
- Training programs are open to members of Massachusetts fire departments and public fire departments from other states.
MFA Career Recruit Firefighter Training Program
- This program is specifically for career recruits and requires all students to have completed the Civil Service Commission’s Physical Ability Test (PAT).
- The head of the department must submit a completed application package, and the student must create or edit their personal profile in the DFS Learning Management System.
- Students are also required to attend a Recruit Fitness Orientation (RFO) class.
- After completing the RFO, students can apply to the waitlist for the Career Recruit Program.
Cambridge Fire Academy
- The Cambridge Fire Academy offers a recruit training program with a comprehensive range of firefighting skills.
- The training includes classroom instruction and hands-on practical training covering basic hose, ladders, self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), search and rescue, pump operation, hydraulics, ventilation, forcible entry, use of hand and power tools, building construction, actual firefighting, hazardous materials, and more.
- Graduates of the program are nationally certified to the Firefighter I/II level.
Boston Fire Academy
- To join the Boston Fire Department, candidates must first pass the state’s civil service exam.
- The Boston Fire Academy’s training process includes a character background check, medical fitness screening, drug test, and psychological exam.
- Recruits undergo a probation period of one year, during which they complete their training at the Firefighter Academy, get Firefighter 1 and 2 certifications, and become certified as Emergency Medical Technicians.
- After successfully completing the probation period, recruits become full members of the Boston Fire Department.
These academies in Massachusetts offer structured and rigorous training programs, ensuring that new recruits are well-prepared for the challenges of a firefighting career.
1)Massachusetts Employment Trends – Firefighters: https://www.onetonline.org/link/localtrends/33-2011.00?st=MA
2)Massachusetts Fire Loss and Fire Department Profile: https://www.usfa.fema.gov/statistics/states/massachusetts.html
3)How to become a firefighter | Boston.gov: https://www.boston.gov/departments/481/how-become-firefighter
4)Plymouth, MA | Official Website: https://plymouth-ma.gov/