Becoming a North Carolina firefighter takes endurance, strength, determination, and most of all, heart. Firefighter training goes far beyond initial schooling required for new recruits; they are required by law to further their education in every aspect of service every year.
Basic North Carolina State Requirements
To become either a volunteer or a paid North Carolina firefighter, you must meet several basic requirements. First, you must be 18 years old when you apply with a high school diploma or GED and a valid class C or better North Carolina driver's license.
Physical Assessment Recommendation
The state recommends a thorough physical exam conducted by a qualified medical practitioner following the current edition of the NFPA 1582 Standard for Medical Requirements for Fire Service Personnel. While the medical exam certificate is not strictly required, it will ensure that you're physically able to perform whatever is required.
Firefighter Certification, Level I and II
Before you receive a North Carolina Firefighter Certification, you must take a battery of tests given by a Level II Instructor. It begins with a student evaluation that is not a part of the training process and must be performed separately, a practical exam to test manipulative skills (manual dexterity), and a written exam to measure cognitive skills. You must score at least 70% on all tests to receive your certification.
Also, before you can be certified as a North Carolina Level I firefighter, you must pass the Haz Mat (Hazardous Materials) Awareness and Haz Mat Operations classes.
Other Things You Should Know
Many firefighters are volunteers, in fact 80% of U.S. firefighters don't get a paycheck.
In addition to the state requirements listed above, most North Carolina city fire departments require driving record and criminal background checks. Having points on your driving record or any misdemeanors will decrease your chances of becoming a firefighter. Felonies on your record may ruin any chances of filling a position on the North Carolina firefighter roster. Local fire departments also may have other specific requirements and exams you must pass before you can be hired. Check with the local fire department website for specifics.
Required ongoing training includes attending classes, training on the job, hands-on skill-building and other forms of education. As a North Carolina firefighter, the training never ends. It's a rewarding job filled with mental and physical challenges.