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How to Become a Firefighter in British Columbia
Firefighters put out fires and perform dangerous rescues. They show up at car accidents, plane crashes and other emergencies, using their skills to help victims. Becoming a firefighter takes a great amount of skill and effort. Firefighters in British Columbia must meet both educational and physical requirements and undergo multiple tests and interviews. Extra firefighter related courses and work experience may help you to get hired as a firefighter.
Consider the physical requirements of becoming a firefighter in British Columbia. Firefighters must pass a variety of health and physical tests and meet certain vision and hearing standards. You may choose to correct certain physical limitations; for example, you can correct poor vision with corrective laser eye surgery. Review the full firefighter requirements before deciding to pursue a career as a firefighter.
Complete high school. You must graduate high school or pass the General Education Development (GED) tests. Firefighters must provide their high school or GED transcripts when applying for a job, so maintain a good school record.
Go to college. Firefighters must have a minimum of one year post-secondary education or the completion of a one- to two-year firefighter apprenticeship. You will need to earn 30 college credits in the fire services field or provide your apprenticeship transcripts.
Take an International Fire Service Accreditation Council (IFSAC) certified NFPA 1001 Level 1 and 2 course. You must have NFPA 1001 Level 1 and 2 certification to become a firefighter in British Columbia. The Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) offers this program.
Complete the WCB Level 3 Occupational First Aid Certificate course or the Canadian Red Cross First Responder Certificate course.
Get a B.C. class 3 with air brakes driver’s license and maintain a good driving record.
Take additional fire service-related courses, get relevant work experience, and work on improving your firefighter abilities before applying as a firefighter. You need to have two years work experience to get hired as firefighter. Applicants who have worked as paramedics, in construction, or in the firefighter auxiliary may increase their chances of getting a job as a firefighter. Fire departments prefer applicants that have C.P.R. certification, First Responder 3, and B.C. Emergency Medical Assistance training. Having a class 4 driver’s license or a background in construction also makes a person a more qualified candidate.
Fill out a firefighter application form. If you meet the requirements, you will take the Firefighter General Aptitude and NFPA 1001 Level I and 2 tests. You must get at least 80 percent on the aptitude test. If you pass, a panel will review your resume and decide whether to interview you. If chosen for an interview with the panel, you will need to talk about your qualifications and abilities, presenting yourself in a professional manner.
Complete a series of tests that evaluate your firefighter eligibility. If your interview goes well, you will be asked to complete a thorough health and medical evaluation, a criminal record check, and physical performance assessment (PPA). The PPA consists of a series of strenuous exercises to test your firefighting skills. If you successfully pass all of the tests and the criminal background check, you will then meet with the fire chief or general manager for a final interview.
Complete your probationary period. If the fire chief or general manager hires you, you will spend the first 12 months on probation. During this time, you must successfully complete fire department training. You will be subject to continuous performance assessments and undergo a formal evaluation after six and 12 months. If you do a good job in the first year, you will become an official B.C. firefighter.
Firefighters must demonstrate swimming ability by passing a swimming test.
You must be a Canadian citizen or be legally entitled to work in Canada to work as a firefighter in B.C.
Fire departments prefer applicants who do not smoke.
Christy Zutautas has been working as a freelance writer for five years. She has published numerous articles, short stories, and poems in both online and print publications. You can find her work in "True Real Estate Stories," "WT Blue Sky Region Literary Magazine," "Better Budgeting" and more. She has studied creative writing at the Granton Institute of Technology.