How to become a firefighter

Let’s be honest. Becoming a firefighter ​is difficult. It requires education, community involvement, many hours of training and dedication, peak physical fitness and most of all a strong desire to help others.

To make matters worse, it’s a hyper-competitive career. Often times competing against 1000’s of other candidates.

The question becomes…

  • How do I stand out from the rest?
  • What type of schooling and courses do I need?
  • What are the minimum requirements to apply to a fire department?
  • How can I give myself the best chances to succeed?
  • What does the interview panel look for in new recruits?
  • How do I prepare myself to succeed in this challenging career?

​This ​page will cover all these topics and more. Let’s get right to it!

What are the minimum requirements to become a firefighter?

​Minimum requirements to become a firefighter vary slightly from one province to the next BUT here are the most common requirements you need to have before you can apply to any Canadian department:

  • Proof of age – You must be 18 years of age or older at the time of the application
  • Can legally work for any employers in Canada
  • ​Provide a Valid Standard First Aid Certificate, CPR Level HCP (Must remain valid throughout the recruitment process)
  • ​Have no criminal convictions for which a pardon has not been granted
  • ​Grade 12 Diploma or equivalent (OSSD in Ontario)
  • Valid, Unrestricted Ontario “G” class license (or equivalent for other provinces) * Must have no more than two (2) infractions 
  • 20/30 uncorrected vision
  • ​Valid Physical Fitness Assessment (Varies from province to province)
  • Normal colour vision
  • Normal unaided hearing
  • Ability to work rotating shifts, including nights, weekends and holidays
  • Work well under high-pressure situations

What ​other requirements ​might I find for a firefighter recruitment?

​Again, these qualifications vary from one department to the next.​ Listed below are some common ones you might find ​during your standard firefighter recruitment in Canada.

  • ​Pre-Service Fire Fighter ​Education & Training Program Certificate OR
  • NFPA 1001 Firefighter Levels I & II from a recognized institution OR
  • OFM curriculum components 1,2 and 3 with examination certificate OR
  • Minimum of two (2) years experience as a full-time firefighter in a municipal fire department OR
  • ​Minimum of five (5) years experience as a part-time firefighter in a municipal fire department
  • Some departments might ask you to acquire a class “D” license with “Z” air brake endorsement (or equivalent in other provinces) 
  • ​​Ontario Fire Administration INC. (OFAI) Testing Stages 1,2 and 3 with Swim Test
  • Fire​fighter Services of Ontario Testing

​What other qualifications can I get beyond the minimum requirements?

So you’d like to improve your chances to become a firefighter in Canada. There are a couple of things you can do to greatly improve your odds. In this section, we will cover the courses and career paths that can prove to be beneficial.

* Please note that these are just suggestions. You don’t need to obtain them all BUT for the ones you do get, remember to spread these out over time. Departments look for consistency so getting them over a couple of years is more beneficial than getting them all at once.