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A firefighter lieutenant supervises the activities of at least one fire company on a designated shift, at an assigned fire station, or at the scene of an emergency. Lieutenants perform all duties normally assigned to a firefighter or a firefighter engineer but in addition are also responsible for supervising other firefighters and fire engineers when working at a fire scene or other emergency.
Work four years or more as a firefighter. Most people begin their careers joining the workforce as a firefighter. Applicants, 18 or older, generally must pass written, physical and medical examinations, and must have post-secondary education or higher to be qualified to become a firefighter. Typically, you must have about four to seven years of experience as a firefighter or a firefighter engineer before you become eligible to apply for a lieutenant position.
Earn NFPA Firefighter I and Firefighter II certifications. In some states, level 1 certification is a requirement before you join the workforce, even at the entry level. In other states, most firefighters earn one or both the certifications within the first year from the date of appointment.
Level 1 followed by 2 certification are a requirement before you apply for a lieutenant position. Certification process -- level 1 or 2 -- involves several weeks of coursework, classroom study and fire simulation drills. At the end of the course study, the student must pass the state administered 2-hour written exam. The student must achieve a score of 70 percent on the exam in order to qualify for certification. Students must also complete a practical skills tests.
Earn an EMT-paramedic certification. Paramedic -- highest among the emergency medical technician certifications -- is a requirement to apply for a lieutenant position. To earn the certification you must complete a state-approved EMT paramedic course. Contact your workplace to know if they offer the coursework in-house; otherwise, contact the department of health and human services for a list of accredited EMT training institutes in your area. Further, the certification requires successful completion of a cognitive and a psychomotor exam administered by the national registry of emergency medical technicians [NREMT]. Contact NREMT for details regarding exam fee, application process and exam procedures.
Complete coursework in fire administration and supervision. Many fire departments offer courses, including workshops and seminars, in fire administration and supervision. It is mandatory to complete these courses as desired. While not a requirement, an associate or a bachelor's degree in fire service and administration from an online or an on-campus university will also serve well toward strengthening your credentials for the lieutenant position.
Pass the fire lieutenant entrance tests. Several states and county fire departments, once your preliminary application is reviewed, will ask you to complete a written exam. The exam will test your knowledge on ground operations, fire prevention and investigation procedures and other on-job issues. You may also have to pass physical and mental examinations before being approved to serve as a fire lieutenant.
Kiran Bharthapudi has more than seven years of experience in print, broadcast and new media journalism. He has contributed to several major news agencies, including United Nations radio, BBC online and "Consumer Reports" magazine. His articles specialize in the areas of business, technology and new media. He has a Ph.D. in mass communications.