“The Career Firefighter”
The El Dorado County Fire District has well educated, highly trained, and very motivated individuals working as a team to protect the citizens of El Dorado County.
This section of our website is designed to let citizens know what our personnel go through to become an El Dorado County Fire District employee… a “career firefighter”. It will also serve as a guide for those who might seek a job as a firefighter.
Fire departments throughout California and the Nation are testing on a regular basis and the process to become a firefighter has become very competitive. The more an individual can do to prepare themselves to stand out in the hiring process, the more likely they will receive a job offer. This preparation starts at an early age. Classes in high school and college could make the difference in what the aspiring firefighter has to contribute to the team and therefore may make them stand out. Making good decisions throughout life will also play a major role in a person’s ability to secure a position as a career firefighter. Background checks and polygraph tests are a normal occurrence in today’s hiring process. One bad decision could cost someone his or her career goals.
The El Dorado County Fire District currently hires firefighter-paramedics.
The following is what is typically required to be eligible for testing and what they will need to accomplish in order to pass probation and became a career firefighter.
- 18 years old.
- High school graduate or GED.
- Have a valid California Driver’s License and obtain a California Class-B Non-commercial Firefighter exempt driver’s license with tank and airbrake endorsements.
- Emergency Medical Technician-B. Typically an intensive 5 unit college semester class with 72 hours of class room and 72 hours of lab, plus 10 hours in an emergency room and/or on an operational medic unit. Prerequisites include Community CPR, First Aid, and CPR for the Professional Rescuer.
- Paramedic license from the State of California. Typically a three phase program offered through a variety of colleges, hospitals, or private companies. Phase one is approximately 456 hours of didactic and lab. Phase two is approximately 160 hours of clinical rotations. Phase three is an internship lasting a minimum of 480 hours. The cost can vary, but $10,000 in not uncommon. Prerequisites can included the above plus a college level anatomy & physiology class within the last five years, and a HOBET (Health Occupational Basic Entrance) exam.
- Compete in a 3 step testing process. The applicant must pass each step to continue to the next. The applicant will take a written test based on Firefighter 1 knowledge. The next step is an interview panel. The applicant sits before a panel of career fire officers and firefighters and answers a variety of questions which are scored. The top scoring applicants, depending on how many positions there are, will then be invited to a Fire Chief’s interview. If an applicant receives a job offer it will be contingent on passing a firefighting academy.
- Pass an 18 week firefighting academy. The El Dorado County Fire District’s recruits are sent through the California Regional Fire Academy based at McClellan Park. This is a very intense program that challenges the recruits both mentally and physically. A former Marine who was going through the Academy was asked how the fire academy compared to Boot Camp. The former Marine stated with the exception of being able to go home at night while in the fire academy, it was very similar. A successful recruit will graduate from the academy with several certifications: Firefighter I, Hazmat First Responder Operational, Rescue Systems 1, Swiftwater Rescue Technician Unit 1, and Confined Space Awareness.
- Pass a one year probationary period. After graduating from the academy the recruit will become a probationary firefighter. The probationary firefighter will be assigned to a station and work as part of a team with other firefighters on a shift schedule. During this period the probationary firefighter’s performance will be graded daily. They will also be evaluated quarterly on manipulative skills, written exams, and employee performance appraisals.
The entire process to become a “career firefighter” with the El Dorado County Fire District takes approximately three years.