How long does it take to be a firefighter?
You asked, “How long does it take to be a firefighter?” In short, to become an active-duty firefighter, you need about 600 hours in training, which usually takes about 12 to 14 weeks at approximately 40 to 48 hours per week.
It would serve you no good to know the length of time if you are not aware of what training and the actual work that firefighting entails. You have to be a highly motivated, physically and mentally capable individual before even considering becoming a firefighter. The job of a firefighter is very demanding: the hours are long and adequate physical fitness and agility is a must; time to spend with family is usually severely shortened; and not to mention, the high possibility of experiencing burns, smoke-inhalation, and even the potential loss of your life.
If these factors do not deter you, then you will want to also consider what matriculation requirements are expected when training to become a firefighter and what rigors are involved in training. Anyone contemplating becoming a firefighter must: be at least 18 years or older (some departments prefer age 21); have either a high school diploma or college certification (also depending on the department); be physically proficient proven through tests; pass an entrance exam that sometimes include written, oral and physical tests; have a squeaky-clean criminal record; [and] have good vision (20/20 preferred).
If you are easily scared or suffer from acrophobia (afraid of heights) this field is not for you. Training involves running up and down an extended ladder, which sometimes reach as far as 100 feet in the air! Strength is tested too. Can you lift and carry a huge sack of sand by rope, several times a day for several days, without wearing out? How long can you jog on a multi-level platform for? Endurance is of utmost importance.
Training does not end there; most departments also require that you have training in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and others prefer paramedic certification even before you apply for firefighter training. On top of this, many departments require that, after spending roughly 600 hours over a period of 12-14 weeks to attain Firefighter I status, you also need to attain Firefighter II status within a year of employment; this simple means more rigorous, excruciating training while carrying out actual firefighting jobs and contributing the rescue efforts successfully.
And those are not the hardest parts. How much heat and smoke can you withstand before being severely affected? Yes, proper gear is provided but gear can only provide protection so far. Are you willing to get involved in a career that can easily cause your death? You can choose to, if you want to be considered as heroic and adventurous. Yes, you will be saving the lives of thousands of people and animals but this must be something that you are willing to do when the harsh realities hit you. A typical response to a fire is to run away from it. As a firefighter, you have to run towards it; inside that building that is on fire, in an effort to save lives.
If, after you have carefully thought out what has been presented thus far, you still want to become a firefighter and want the answer to the question: ‘how long does it take to be a firefighter?’ then I would suggest that you either visit the websites of an academy that offers training in firefighting or the fire department of your town, or visit one of your local fire stations.