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How to Become a Firefighter With a General Discharge

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When people are discharged from military service, adapting to civilian life becomes essential. Getting a job is indeed a top priority. The type of discharge you receive fundamentally affects the quality of life you will enjoy as a civilian. A general discharge under honorable conditions may not hinder you from getting a job. However you will have to compete against candidates with honorable discharges, who are viewed more favorably by employers. Becoming a firefighter with a general discharge entails being honest about your military experience and selling your valuable skills.

Check if the reason you were given a general discharge is listed by your state’s fire department as a factor that may disqualify you from becoming a firefighter. Discuss with the fire department the effects a general discharge may have on your application. Note that different agencies have diverse views about an applicant’s discharge status.

Upgrade your military discharge if you believe that the general discharge was inequitable or improper. Obtain the form DD 2293 by downloading it from the Army Publishing Directorate website and fill in the form by following the instructions on it. Explain in your statement the circumstances of your discharge and why the discharge was improper or inequitable.

Attach copies of your statement and statements from witnesses to support your request to upgrade military status. Send the form and copies of the statements to the address provided at the back of the form. Wait for the Army Review Board Agency to determine your request; you may be called to appear before the Board if you requested this in your request application.

Meet the basic eligibility requirements for a firefighter position, which include getting a high school diploma, having a valid driver’s license, communicating in proper English, being 18 years and above, and being eligible to work in the country. Answer all questions on the application truthfully, especially questions about your military experience.

Take the written test on the scheduled day for the fire department to test your proficiency in reading and writing and competencies such as ability to work in a team. Note that the tests have a pass mark, usually 70 percent, below which an applicant may not proceed to the next level of the hiring process.

Attend the oral board interview on the day scheduled by the fire department. Explain to the board panel about your skills, especially those that you gained from your military experience. Inform the board if your request to upgrade your military discharge was approved and upgraded to that of an honorable discharge.

Demonstrate physical fitness by undertaking the physical and psychological tests administered by the fire department. Pass the physical exam by performing all the required activities in the required time.

Undergo a background check by filing out a personal information questionnaire. Provide truthful information about your military experience, the military discharge status, criminal records and credit history. Wait for the fire department to review your qualifications for the job, after which they will contact you.


Seek to improve your military discharge only if it will give you a better chance at getting the job. Decisions on requests for an upgrade of military discharge take many months; take this into consideration as you prepare for a career as a firefighter. Most requests for an upgrade of military discharge are denied. It is advisable to seek advice from an attorney. The fire department application kit can be obtained from the fire department website or by visiting the fire department.


Diana Wicks is a Canadian residing in Vancouver. She began writing in 2004 while still a student at Lincoln School of Journalism, in the city of London. She has worked as Chief Editor of Business Chronicle, an online magazine based in London. Wicks holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in journalism and a Master of Business Administration from the London School of Economics.

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