become a firefighterWhat does it take to become a firefighter?

Being a Firefighter sounds exciting, right?  A rewarding career with a good dose of action, excitement, energy, camaraderie, fulfillment, and variety while providing you with a good living for you and your current or future family.  That’s what the Fire Service is all about.  Or at least that’s what it looks like from the outside.

Now I’ll tell you that all of the things above are true… the Fire Service is all of those.  But what most people don’t see is that blood, sweat, and tears that are required to get here… and then the blood, sweat, and tears that we endure in the Fire Service.  It’s not an easy job… it’s not easy on your body, on your mind, or on your family.  But… the rewards are great enough (and I’m not talking money here) to endure the negative aspects of the career.

So what does it take to become a firefighter?

It takes dedication, motivation, perseverance, inspiration, honor, integrity, patience, humility, and a little bit of luck.  Do you feel like you have all of those… well, you may, but you need more.  Remember, there are thousands of people looking for a career in the Fire Service with these personal attributes but only a few will be selected for the job… you have to be the top tier, the top percentage to get in.  Does it sound tough?  Well, if it was easy, everyone would want to do it!

Ask yourself what you’re willing to do for a career in the Fire Service… are you willing to put in the time, effort, money, heart, sole, blood (hopefully metaphorically), sweat, and tears to be successful?  Almost all “say” yes… but there actions dictate otherwise.  I see candidates every single day that won’t be successful.  Not because they don’t have the ability, but because they don’t get it… they don’t understand the actual “cost” to get in.  If you think you’re entitled to weekends off, you don’t get it.  If you think you can take a week off and go to Cancun for spring break, you don’t get it.  Our business doesn’t stop… it doesn’t sleep… it doesn’t rest.  There will always be someone willing to work harder than you… don’t let them!

An easy answer to the question, “what does it take to become a firefighter”

Commitment.  You have to commit to the lifestyle early and make it your way for the rest of your professional life.  You either do it or you don’t.  There was a famous green guy from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away that said, “Do or don’t do, there is no try” (for those of you that are old enough, you’ll see what I did there).  So go out there and do it!  Be successful!

Dave Hardenburger

Dave is a Fire Captain and Paramedic for a municipal Fire Department in San Diego County. He co-founded FirefighterMedic with Josh and currently serves as a Mentor.