Wisconsin recorded 3.2 deaths and 11.1 injuries per 1,000 fires as per the data provided by the US Fire Administration. This is a ratio higher than the national average of 2.3 deaths and 7.2 injuries per 1,000 fires.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 7,980 firefighters are working in Wisconsin. If you want to join these brave men and women, the following information would be of use to you.

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Steps to Become a Firefighter in Wisconsin

To become a firefighter in Wisconsin, you need to fulfill several requirements and undergo specific training. The essential steps are as follows:

Basic Requirements
  • Candidates must be at least 18 years old, possess a valid driver’s license, provide proof of residency, be physically fit, and have a high school education or higher​​.

Training is required at all levels. There are two primary routes for training:

  • Fire Department Training Division: This is an on-the-job training approach.
  • Fire Academy Education: Candidates can pursue education at one of the many technical colleges in Wisconsin that offer fire academy training.
Certification Requirements

Aspiring firefighters in Wisconsin must satisfy program requirements based on the appropriate National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards and be tested for competency. These standards include:

  • NFPA 1001-2013: Standard for Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications.
  • NFPA 1002-2017: Standard for Fire Apparatus Driver/Operator Professional Qualifications.
  • NFPA 1021-2014: Standard for Fire Officer Professional Qualifications.
  • NFPA 1403-2018: Standard on Live Fire Training Evolutions.
  • NFPA 1901-2016: Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus.
  • NFPA 1911-2017: Standard for the Inspection, Maintenance, Testing, and Retirement of In-Service Emergency Vehicles.
  • NFPA 1971-2018: Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting.
  • NFPA 1981-2013: Standard on Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus for Emergency Services.

These steps provide a general framework for becoming a firefighter in Wisconsin. However, specific requirements can vary slightly by city or region, as seen in the examples of Milwaukee and Madison. It’s advisable for candidates to check with local fire departments or training facilities for detailed information relevant to their area.

Salary of Firefighters in Wisconsin

As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual salary of Wisconsin firefighters was:

  • Annual Mean Salary: $43,980.
  • Annual Median Salary: $37,750.

Below table shows starting salaries for firefighters for two big Wisconsin fire departments:

Milwaukee Fire DepartmentFirefighter$51,216.80 per year
Madison Fire DepartmentFirefighter$57,641.48 per year

Career Outlook for Firefighters in Wisconsin

As per O*Net Online, firefighters in Wisconsin will experience a job growth of 7% between 2020 and 2030, which will result in the creation of 730 new jobs.

Firefighters Training Academies in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, there are several certified firefighter training academies for new recruits, each offering unique programs and certifications. Here are a few notable ones:

Madison Fire Department Recruit Training Academy

  • This academy is designed for new firefighter/EMTs and also caters to those who already hold state certifications. The training includes basic firefighting skills and progresses to advanced scenarios like smoke diving, advanced rescue, and firefighter survival.
  • Training also includes Hazardous Materials Operations and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT-B) certification. The academy takes up to 20 weeks to complete, but the duration may be shortened for recruits with existing certifications and licenses​​​​.

Southwest Tech Fire Service Training Program

  • This program offers initial training and continuing education for local firefighters. The core firefighting courses are based on the NFPA Standard 1001 – Firefighter Professional Qualifications. The program meets the minimum training and certification standards established by the State of Wisconsin.
  • Courses include Technical Rescue and Hazardous Materials Response, along with locally delivered National Fire Academy courses. Southwest Tech’s Certified Firefighter courses are also accredited by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC)​​​​.

NextGen Responders Academy at Madison College

  • This academy offers courses for high school juniors and seniors in Wisconsin. The program provides hands-on experience and real-world scenarios, preparing students for immediate job placement.
  • Upon completion, students receive certifications in Firefighter 1, Firefighter 2, Hazardous Materials Operations Level, Nationally Registered Emergency Responders, and CPR and Early Defibrillation.

These academies provide comprehensive training and certification for new recruits, ensuring they are well-prepared for a career in firefighting. Each academy has its own unique approach and focus, catering to different stages and aspects of firefighter training.

1)Wisconsin Employment Trends – Firefighters: https://www.onetonline.org/link/localtrends/33-2011.00?st=WI
2)Wisconsin Fire Loss and Fire Department Profile: https://www.usfa.fema.gov/statistics/states/wisconsin.html
3)City of Madison, WI: https://www.cityofmadison.com/
4)Firefighters: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes332011.htm

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