The state of Pennsylvania, fortunately, is not amongst the most fire-prone states in the US. Nonetheless since 2002; over 32,000 acres of land have been burned here due to wild fires. This has been due to almost 5,000 incidents of wild fires in the state. The U.S. Fire Administration reports that 3.8 deaths and 7.2 injuries resulted in Pennsylvania per 1,000 fires in the state.

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In light of this, incidents of wild fires are a major concern for the residents of Pennsylvania, which further accentuates the importance of a professional firefighting force in the state numbering approximately 5,000, as per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How to Become a Firefighter in Pennsylvania
How to Become a Firefighter in Pennsylvania

Steps to Become a Firefighter in Pennsylvania

To become a firefighter in Pennsylvania, several steps must be followed. The process varies slightly depending on the department, but generally includes the following requirements and steps:

  • Applicants must have a high school diploma or its equivalent (GED). Some local fire departments and stations might prefer candidates with a college degree in Fire Science​​​​.
Proof of Residency
  • This is required for applicants, with some departments like Philadelphia requiring residency in the city for at least one year prior to appointment​​​​.
Age and Licensure Requirements
  • Applicants must be at least 18 years old and possess a valid Pennsylvania driver’s license​​​​.
Physical and Medical Fitness
  • Candidates must be physically fit to perform the duties of firefighters under various conditions. A medical examination is typically required to ensure fitness.
Civil Service Examination
  • Aspiring firefighters must pass the civil service exam. High scorers are usually invited to the next phase of the selection process​​​​.
Background Check and Drug Test
  • Applicants must pass a background check and a drug test as part of the selection process.
Department Interviews and Investigations

This includes department interviews, criminal investigations, and additional background investigations

  • Candidates must complete the department’s required training program. For example, the Philadelphia Fire Academy offers a nine-month academic, practical, and physical training program​​​​.

These steps provide a general guideline for becoming a firefighter in Pennsylvania, though specific requirements can vary by department and locality.

Salary of Firefighters in Pennsylvania

As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pennsylvania firefighters earned:

  • Annual Mean Salary: $61,290.
  • Annual Median Salary: $66,110.

As a point of comparison, below are the starting salaries of firefighters for two fire departments in Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia Fire DepartmentFirefighter59,795.00 per year
Pittsburgh Bureau of FireFirefighter45,959.88 per year

Career Outlook for Firefighters in Pennsylvania

O*Net Online predicts a 5% increase in job opportunities for firefighters in Pennsylvania between 2020 and 2030.

Firefighters Training Academies in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, there are several certified training academies for new firefighter recruits:

Pennsylvania State Fire Academy (PSFA)

  • The PSFA aims to provide quality training and education, along with professional certification, that meets or exceeds national standards. They offer a comprehensive curriculum responsive to the training and education needs of Pennsylvania’s emergency responders.
  • The academy provides Resident Training Programs at its facility, as well as Academy on the Road programs for local delivery and a Local Level Training Program conducted at fire department stations.

HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College

  • HACC offers a Fire Academy with an EMT Certificate program. This program focuses on preparing cadets to pass the Firefighter I and II certification exams and the Pennsylvania Department of Health Emergency Medical Technician certificate exam. The program operates under a semi-military environment and includes physical exercise, academic testing, and leadership roles for cadets.
  • It offers course completions in various areas, including National Incident Management System (NIMS), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) certifications, and American Heart Association Certificates in CPR and First Aid.

Westmoreland’s Public Safety Training Center

  • They offer certified training classes and certification programs in conjunction with the Pennsylvania State Fire Academy. Their courses cover various areas like pump operations, firefighter survival, structural firefighting, and rescue techniques like trench and rope/high angle rescue.
  • They also serve as a designated test site for the Volunteer Fire Service Certification Program, offering certification exams in areas like Firefighter I and II, Fire Officer I, and Hazardous Materials Awareness​​​​​​.

These academies provide a blend of practical and theoretical training, ensuring that new recruits are well-prepared for the challenges of firefighting in Pennsylvania.

1)Pennsylvania Employment Trends – Firefighters:
2)Become a firefighter | Services | City of Philadelphia:
3)City of Pittsburgh Firefighter Recruitment – Salary and Benefits:
4)Pennsylvania Fire Loss and Fire Department Profile:

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