How to Become a First Responder


First responder, first steps

Men and women, both young and old, are attracted to the emergency services for many reasons: the rewards of performing a service to the community, to start a meaningful career, or the challenge of a physically demanding job.

Regardless of the motivations, one has to start somewhere. The New Hampshire Fire Academy & EMS and its instructors are the Granite State’s top-tier resources for education and training.

There are a few things one should know before pursuing emergency services as a career or a civic service. New Hampshire emergency services are broken into three major categories: volunteer, part-time/on-call, and full-time/career.

  • Volunteer departments operate without compensation and view their role as a civic service in their community.
  • Part-time/On-Call departments do not necessarily have regularly-staffed shifts, but compensate on a per-call basis; or they may include a monthly stipend. Most departments have training requirements as part of their standard operating guidelines. Also, many of these departments require their personnel to be a resident, and/or live within a certain radius of the town they serve. To find out if volunteer or part-time/on-call opportunities are available in your community, contact your local department.
  • Only about 20% of NH departments are covered by full-time/career members, which makes seeking a career in the emergency services in NH a competitive process.

Choose your starting point

In order to become a firefighter in the state of New Hampshire, the steps one must take are highly variable based on the fire department in question. Each municipality has its own requirements, so in the end it is best to reach out to the fire department one would like to join to get the most accurate and up-to-date list of needs. In general though, most departments start with the same basic framework for determining a potential firefighter’s eligibility. These include:

  • Being 18 years of age or older
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Approval by a physician in a pre-employment medical examination
  • Firefighter I certification
  • An oral interview with department leadership

Some departments, especially departments looking to hire fighters for Part-time or Full-time positions often have additional requirements for employment, including:

  • Emergency medical certifications, often (but not always) with a preference for Emergency Medical Technician and above, especially Advanced Life Support capabilities such as Advanced EMT and Paramedic
  • Firefighter II certification
  • Recent passing of the state firefighting entrance exam aka CPAT

Some post-secondary educational institutions also offer fire science degree programs where a student can obtain the above qualifications as part of an established academic curriculum. Such as:

These are not the only institutions in the area to provide academic programs for firefighting careers. Consider searching your area for what would work best for you.

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