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Becoming a Firefighter

So You Want to be a Firefighter!!

Men and women, both young and old, are attracted to the fire service for many reasons: the challenge of a physically demanding job, the rewards of performing a service to the community, and/or good pay and benefits. No matter what your motivations, you have to start somewhere. We hope this document is helpful to you, and we hope you will utilize the New Hampshire Fire Academy as a resource to you on your path to becoming a firefighter.

Fire Fighters imageThere are a few things you should know before pursuing fire fighting as a career or a civic service. New Hampshire firefighters are broken into three major categories: volunteer, part-time/on-call, and full-time/career.

firetruck image Volunteer departments manage their firefighters without compensation and those firefighters view their role as a civic service in their community. Part-time/On-Call fire departments do not have regular staffed shifts, but compensate firefighters on a per call basis; or they may include a monthly stipend. About 80% of fire departments in NH operate as part-time/on-call or volunteer departments. State law does not require training for these departments. However, for the sake of your individual safety and the safety of those around you, training is strongly encouraged. Most departments have training requirements as part of their standard operating guidelines. Also, most of these departments require their firefighters to be a resident, and or live within a certain mile circumference of the town they serve. To find out if volunteer or part-time/on-call opportunities are available in your community, contact your local fire department.

Full-time/career firefighters are those whose career is fire fighting. Only about 20% of NH fire departments are covered by full-time/career firefighters, which makes seeking a career in the fire service in NH a competitive process. There are State requirements to be eligible to be a permanent firefighter; they may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • High School Diploma or GED.
  • 18 years of age.
  • Pass state entrance exam (CPAT).
  • Pass a pre-employment physical examination.
  • Pass a background check - no felony convictions.
  • Pass an oral interview.
  • Attain Firefighter II status within 12 months of employment.

The statewide entrance exam is offered multiple times annually through the Fire Academy. Visit the NH Fire Academy Web site for information and access to printable exam application packet. All individuals who successfully complete this exam process are put on a list for the next year. This list is utilized by NH fire departments to identify qualified individuals. Some fire departments generate their own lists of qualified individuals by holding their own exams.

Though the entrance exam is a requirement for eligibility, it may not be your first step in attaining a career in the fire service. All fire departments are looking for a certain level of training before they will even grant an interview. Generally, they are looking for training in fire fighting as well as in Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Training may be obtained in a variety of ways; such as, with the ongoing training at the NH Fire Academy in Concord, as well as with field classes throughout the State, and with the Lakes Region Community College in Laconia where a Fire Science Associates Degree is available.

Certification levels in fire fighting for NH are:

  • Firefighter I
  • Firefighter II

Full-time/career departments are requiring applicants who have attained at least a Firefighter II certification, and are a EMR, EMT, AEMT or Paramedic. Attaining at least an National Registry EMT certification will increase your employability for a full-time/career fire department in NH.

A current list of courses may be accessed here for both fire and ems programs:

EMS certification levels are:

  • Emergency Medical Responder (EMR)
  • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
  • Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT)
  • Paramedic (P)
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