Fire Protection Careers
A career in fire protection offers the opportunity to perform challenging and exciting work while protecting the residents, resources, and property in the State of California. Working as a team, fire protection employees respond to medical emergencies, wildland and structural fires, vehicle accidents, hazardous material spills, and other emergency incidents. CAL FIRE also provides leadership and support services for natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods. Being physically fit is important, and prospective employees must meet required medical standards. Fire protection employees typically work varying shifts, including 24-hour days and weekends and holidays. They must be willing to live and work in remote areas and be able to live compatibly in a fire station with others.
FIRE APPARATUS ENGINEER
If you are an experienced firefighter, you may want to consider the position of Fire Apparatus Engineer. Each person selected for a permanent Fire Apparatus Engineer position is placed in a three-year apprenticeship program. A Fire Apparatus Engineer drives and operates fire apparatus such as engines, water tenders, rescue squads, and aerial trucks in connection with extinguishing wildland, structural or other fires, and in fire prevention and rescue work; performs medical aid duties; performs building, grounds, and equipment maintenance; makes fire code inspections; investigates fire causes; presents fire prevention programs to the public; and keeps records and prepares reports. A Fire Apparatus Engineer leads a crew and may act as Fire Captain relief. The exam typically consists of a supplemental application. Permanent appointments are conditional upon successful completion of a CAL FIRE training course.
Possession of a valid driver license of the appropriate class issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Applicants who do not possess the license will be admitted to the examination but must secure the license prior to appointment. and
HEAVY FIRE EQUIPMENT OPERATOR
If you are interested in working with heavy fire equipment, a job as a Heavy Fire Equipment Operator may be for you. Heavy Fire Equipment Operators are trained in fire fighting and operating heavy equipment used in wildland fire control, forest protection, and conservation project work. Heavy Fire Equipment Operators operate and perform maintenance and repair work on vehicles and heavy equipment such as bulldozers, motor-graders, heavy duty transports, and trucks. Operating heavy equipment is required on steep, narrow mountain roads, under hazardous conditions, on the fire line, road construction, and other forestry construction projects. The examination process typically consists of a written test, oral interview, and performance test. Permanent appointments are conditional upon successful completion of a CAL FIRE training course.
OTHER CAREERS IN FIRE PROTECTION
It takes employees in many different occupations to complete the fire protection team. CAL FIRE employs Fire Fighters II (Paramedic) and Fire Apparatus Engineers (Paramedic). Forestry Fire Pilots and Air Operations Officers are responsible for aerial fire fighting responsibilities. Heavy Equipment Mechanics and Forestry Equipment Managers ensure that equipment is maintained in a state of readiness. Fire Prevention Assistants and Fire Prevention Specialists work with the public and local governments in the areas of information, inspection, education, engineering, and law enforcement. These are just some of the challenging opportunities available with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
THE COMPETITIVE EDGE
There are many applicants for fire protection positions. If you are interested in this career field, you may want to consider activities that may increase your competitiveness:
- Obtain a good educational foundation in reading, writing and mathematics.
- Consider team sports, scouting, and R.O.P. (firefighting programs).
- Although not required, you may be more competitive if you have taken some of these college classes: First Responder, Emergency Medical Technician, Wildland Fire Control, Introduction to Fire Technology, Fire Science, or Fire Officer classes (Fire Command, Fire Investigation, Fire Prevention, Fire Instructor, Fire Management).
- In addition to taking specialized college classes, take general education classes to improve your skills, and take business or related courses to enhance your competitiveness for management positions.
- Participate in aerobic conditioning and weight training.
- Become a volunteer firefighter to help you decide if this is the career for you, and to give you job-related experience.
After completion of three years of permanent, full-time experience as a Fire Apparatus Engineer and successful completion of the apprenticeship program, employees may take the promotional Fire Captain examination. A Fire Captain supervises the work of one or more engine companies or hand crews and shares in the management of a fire station, or is assigned to one of a variety of specialty assignments such as air attack, prevention/law enforcement, conservation camp, emergency command center, or training. After three years at the Fire Captain level, employees may take the promotional examination to become a Battalion Chief.