The field of firefighting remains one of the most competitive in the US as more and more people are interested in taking up the profession. Candidates who are physically fit, have top scores on mechanical aptitude and physical endurance test, and paramedic training are likely to be in most demand.
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According to the 2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Washington is home to 7,200 firefighters and they are doing a great job in combating fires in the states. As per US Fire Administration, Washington recorded 1.3 deaths and 5.2 injuries per 1,000 fires which is considerably better than the national average of 2.3 deaths and 7.2 injuries.
Steps to Become a Firefighter in Washington
To become a firefighter in Washington State, one must follow these general steps:
- The fundamental requirements include being at least 18 years old, having a high school diploma or GED, and possessing a valid Washington State driver’s license.
- Firefighting is physically demanding, so candidates should prepare for and complete the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT), which assesses the physical abilities necessary for firefighting.
- Candidates apply online to fire departments. The hiring process typically includes exams, suitability assessments, and passing the physical ability test.
- Each fire department may have different processes for recruiting, training, and hiring. It’s important to contact local City, Fire District, or Regional Fire Authority to understand their specific requirements.
- The Washington State Fire Fighters Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (WSFF JATC) offers an integrated training program including On-the-Job Training, professional certifications (like IFSAC and ProBoard), and college-level academic studies.
- For those interested in further education, Fire Science degrees are available at several institutions in Washington, such as Bates Technical College, Everett Community College, Spokane Community College, Pierce College, and Walla Walla Community College.
- Volunteering, especially in rural areas, is an excellent way to gain experience and learn more about the fire service.
- Some departments utilize centralized private organizations for candidate testing. Organizations like The National Testing Network and Public Safety Testing provide testing services and forward the scores and information to departments with job openings.
Each step in this process is crucial for preparing for a career in firefighting, which is both demanding and rewarding. Prospective firefighters should be dedicated, physically fit, and ready for continuous learning and training.
Salary of Firefighters in Washington
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that firefighters in Washington earned the following annual mean and median salaries:
- Annual Mean Salary: $76,930
- Annual Median Salary: $80,820.
The salaries of two major fire departments in Washington are mentioned in the table below to give you a better idea of what you can expect to make.
|Seattle Fire Department
|$82,192.00 per year
|Redmond Fire Department
|$83,040.00 per year
Career Outlook for Firefighters in Washington
According to O*Net Online, firefighters in Washington will experience a job growth of 7% between 2020 and 2030.
Firefighters Training Academies in Washington
In Washington State, there are several certified major firefighter training academies for new recruits. These academies provide comprehensive training programs, covering various aspects of firefighting and emergency response. Here are some of the key academies and programs:
Washington State Fire Training Academy (FTA)
- Weekday Recruit Academy: Offers basic firefighting skills training, including classroom instruction and live fire training. This course meets the requirements for Firefighter 1 and 2 and Hazardous Materials Awareness and Operations levels.
- Company Officer Development Program: Aims to develop leadership and management skills in Company Officers who play a critical role in the success of each Recruit Academy.
- Open Enrollment Classes: Available for various firefighting and emergency response skills.
- Fire Control I: Covers direct, indirect, and combination water application techniques, as well as interior fire attack.
- Fire Officer I and II: Training that covers a range of skills including human resource management, public education, fire safety inspection, and emergency operations.
- Firefighter II: Focuses on incident management system, technical rescue, auto extrication, and live fire control.
- Live Fire Instructor Course: In partnership with Washington State University, offering in-depth knowledge of NFPA 1403 principles and live fire policies.
- Fire Instructor I and II: Prepares individuals for delivering instruction and developing course curriculum.
- Search & Rescue: Covers basic skills for conducting interior search and rescue operations.
- Co-Op Scheduled Training: Provides opportunities for fire fighters to receive live fire training and multiple company operations.
- Regional Direct Delivery (RDD): Focuses on Basic Firefighter I Training in rural communities, including regional recruit academies and block classes.
- FTA Basic Firefighter I Recruit Academy Scholarship: Specifically for volunteer firefighters, offering a scholarship program for weekend recruit academies.
- IFSAC Testing and Evaluation: For certification purposes in various courses.
Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority
- Offers a 20-week Recruit Academy program which includes instruction at various locations including the Puget Sound Fire Training Center.
Seattle Fire Department
- Provides a hands-on, drill-intensive recruit training program where recruits are evaluated daily and must complete all training elements successfully.
These academies provide robust training programs, ensuring that firefighter recruits in Washington are well-prepared for their demanding roles. The training covers everything from basic firefighting skills to specialized areas like hazardous materials handling, search and rescue, fire inspection, and leadership development.
1)Washington Employment Trends – Firefighters: https://www.onetonline.org/link/localtrends/33-2011.00?st=WA
2)Join Our Team | Redmond, WA: https://www.redmond.gov/513/Join-Our-Team
3)Washington Fire Loss and Fire Department Profile: https://www.usfa.fema.gov/statistics/states/washington.html
4)Benefits – Fire | seattle.gov: https://www.seattle.gov/fire/jobs-and-opportunities/benefits