Once the filing period is open, applicants must complete a CFD
employment application. Visit City of Chico Human
Resources to learn about employment information.
The first quality a fire fighter must possess is desire: the
desire to help those in need, to put one’s self both first and
last in a crisis situation. It’s that desire that pushes a person
to run into a burning building.
Firefighting is a profession. It is a career decision. It is one
that takes a great deal of preparation through education and
training. Positions with fire departments are scarce and
competition is fierce. Here we will outline the process for
hiring firefighters along with the skills and knowledge you
should exhibit to successfully compete in the hiring process.
Firefighters must be at least eighteen years of age and possess a
high school diploma. That’s just the beginning as almost nobody
is hired with anything near the minimum requirements. Maintaining
a clean driving record is imperative since an important component
of the position requires excellent driving skills under stressful
Education is a crucial component in a firefighting career.
Typically, there are two primary choices as a beginning. One is
to attend a Firefighter I Academy, which is an intensive college
accredited program involving basic structural firefighting,
wildland firefighting, rescue, and emergency medical training.
The other choice is obtaining a Fire Technology Associates Degree
by attending an accredited college offering a Fire Technology
program. In most departments, Chief Officer ranks require a
To further enhance your skills and qualifications, it is
recommended that you obtain specialized training in several of
the following: Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification,
Paramedic license; Rescue Systems I; Swift Water Rescue; Over the
Edge Rescue; Confined Space Rescue; Hazardous Materials
Specialist; Hazardous Materials First Responder Operational and
Decontamination; Rescue Systems II; Critical Incident Stress; and
Drowning Accident Rescue. For more specifics on areas of
specialty, consult a fire department training officer.
Once you obtain sufficient training and a comprehensive
educational background, it is time to compete in the recruitment
process. Typically, fire departments issue job announcement
flyers. To obtain notification of recruitment openings, contact
the Human Resources (or Personnel) office and complete a “Job
Interest Card”. These cards are kept for a specified period of
time. If, during that time, the position noted opens, those with
a job interest card would be notified. The City of Chico posts
current recruitment notices through its Human Resources
Department and applications are only accepted during active
Process of hiring
Typically, there are four stages to the hiring process: the
written examination; physical agility test; oral; and Chief’s
Remember that competition is fierce! Many fire departments
receive large numbers of applications and frequently limit the
recruitment period or number of applications. Therefore, it is
important to have a current resume, all of your training
certificates and application materials organized, with extra
copies of certificates, diplomas, coursework, and related
documents to be included with the application packet. Be prepared
to participate in a written examination and physical agility test
immediately following your application for a position. Many
departments accept applications and administer the initial test
within a 48-hour period, typically over a weekend.
Written exams may have firefighter related questions or can be a
general knowledge Civil Service-type examination. Those
successfully passing the written portion are usually provided a
written score. The next step in the process is to participate in
the physical agility test. This test measures fire-fighting
related tasks participants must perform within a specified time
limit in order to pass. Each physical test is a task you would
perform as a firefighter. Note: Some departments conduct a
physical agility test prior to a written test. Either way, the
pass/fail scores will indicate whether one proceeds forward in
the testing process.
The top scoring participants who have successfully passed the
written and physical agility tests may be scheduled to
participate in an oral interview. The oral places the candidate
in front of a panel of people who are experts in fire protection,
community members, or city staff. Questions are asked to evaluate
one’s character, honesty, ability to get along with others,
educational background, experience, special skills, and other
areas of related value.
Once the testing is completed, successful candidates are
typically ranked on an eligibility list. Depending on the number
of positions open, the top individuals on that list may qualify
for a Fire Chief interview. Some departments do not have a Fire
Chief interview. Some elect to have a panel interview consisting
of the Fire Chief, Police Chief, City Manager, members of the
City Council, members of a special Fire Department recruiting
board/administrative staff, or other combinations of personnel.
Those selected to become a firefighter in Chico are given a
conditional job offer. A full background check, medical
evaluation, psychological exam, and all necessary paperwork is
completed. If successfully completed, the probationary
firefighter period begins.
Probationary Chico firefighters who are hired off a lateral or
entry firefighter list are required to pass a minimum six-week
Orientation Academy before being assigned to a working shift. The
probationary period lasts for one year during which probationary
firefighters will be required to pass a six-month test, a
twelve-month test, emergency medical skill test, a map test, and
a driver license test if not previously holding a Class A or B
license. These tests measure fire-fighting knowledge, skills to
perform the job safely and efficiently, and the knowledge and
abilities needed. Upon successful completion of the tests and
approval by the Fire Chief, the probationary firefighter becomes
a permanent city employee.
A firefighting career is not limited to structural firefighting,
rescue, and medical response. Another area many people start in
is wildland or forest firefighting. These careers may take a
similar testing path, but result in a different career path.
One may also prepare differently relative to education. Once you
have chosen a career, there is the opportunity to extend one’s
knowledge by attending fire related classes certified by the
California State Board of Fire Services, or you may chose to
specialize into a certified field of expertise, such as hazardous
materials, fire prevention, emergency medical services, or
rescue, just to name a few. In your chosen career,
diversification into other fire related fields is possible along
with the possibility of promotions.
The Fire Service presents a highly rewarding career for both men
and women of all ethnicities. Consider your future. Take a look!