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How To Become a Firefighter in Indiana (IN)

Welcome to our step by step guide on how to become a firefighter in Indiana (IN). We’ll go over how to find fire departments in Indiana, minimum hiring requirements state-wide, a run down of the hiring process, required certificates, the average firefighter salaries in Indiana, and everything else you will need to become a fireman.

How To Locate Fire Departments in Indiana (IN)

Navigate to this fire departments list to browse across hundreds of fire departments in Indiana. Requirements for becoming a firefighter in the state can vary from department to another, so it’s always a critical step to contact the department(s) you’re interested in and find out what their hiring process is exactly.

Minimum Requirements For Becoming an Indiana Firefighter

The following are the absolute minimum requirements you must meet if you want to apply for the job position:

  • Must be 18 years or older
  • A high school diploma or equivalent is required
  • Must have a valid driver’s license
  • Must pass a thorough background check and drug test

Some fire departments will require you to have an EMT certification even before you apply, though most won’t.

Is a Fire Degree Required To Become a Fireman in Indiana?

No, it is not. And neither is a fire degree required in any other state. However, please don’t confuse a “fire degree” with “fire training.” While a fire degree is not required, you obviously will need to go through extensive fire training to learn the ropes of the trade, prior to being hired.

However, many applicants nowadays do obtain a fire degree even before they apply for a job. While it’s not required, it can give them an advantage and make them seem more desirable in the eyes of their future employer. A typical fire degree will take 2 years to acquire, though there are shorter and longer courses available.

Many Indiana community colleges offer fire education if you’re interested. Also, there are a few fire academies that you might be interested in contacting as well:

Step By Step Application Process

As with any other state, the exact steps required to become a fireman in Indiana will vary from department to another. Always contact your department to inquire about their procedures. With that said, below is what you should generally expect:

Step #1: Fill out an application. You will likely need to visit the HQ of the fire department to obtain the application form. Some departments, for example in Indianapolis, make it possible to request the application via an online form. You’ll need to provide some basic information within the form, as well as more detailed information regarding your past education, acquired certifications (if any) and working experience (if any).

Step #2: Complete the written exam. You’ll be contacted with the date the written exam is going to take place. Some hire departments only hire once every 2 years, while other departments look for new firefighters a few times a year. The test consists of around 235 questions (mostly multiple choice), and will cover subjects such as:

  • Solving basic math and logical problems
  • Assessing your comprehensive reading ability
  • Very basic map-reading skills
  • Spatial orientation

No questions related strictly to the fire service will be asked. This test is very simple, though you can prepare for it by taking tutoring classes or buying a preparation book online, for example at Amazon.com.

Step #3: Oral Interview. Those who successfully complete the written exam will be contacted via regular mail or phone and asked to attend an oral interview. The interview panel will be comprised of 3 to 5 highly-ranking representatives of the fire department. Expect it to last between 10 and 30 minutes. Much like any regular job interview, you’ll be asked questions about your past, your goals and personal interests, and maybe some basic and open-ended questions related to the fire service (such as: “what do you think of the current state of the fire service in Indiana?”).

Step #4: Pass a physical ability test. Some departments conduct these tests on their own, but most will ask that you participate in and pass the CPAT (Candidate Physical Ability Test). You can apply for this test at dozens of locations across Indiana. The test consists of 8 different challenges including climbing stairs, dragging a fire hose, a simulated search & rescue, and more. There will be two orientation sessions before the actual test, and you’ll also be given two timed test runs through the challenges to get you better acquainted with the test itself. The CPAT is a fail/pass – if you fail during any of the challenges, you are immediately disqualified. Participating in the test usually costs around $50. You can learn more about this and all the physical challenges involved in our CPAT guide.

Step #5: Medical evaluations and background checks. If you successfully pass the oral interview and physical ability test, you’ll be contacted about the next stage of the hiring process. This will involve a very thorough physical evaluation, including (but not limited to):

  • Blood and urine tests
  • Eyesight evaluation (corrected vision is acceptable)
  • Respiratory treadmill test
  • A full physical check-up
  • A drug test

You will also meet with a qualified psychologist who’ll evaluate whether you are mentally capable of handling the psychological stresses and challenges associated with working as a firefighter.

The background test will be conducted by  representative of the fire department. Any felony convictions will disqualify you, while misdemeanors will be handled on an individual bases and depending on the offence. Your friends and family members will be contacted as well. Even something as small as having too many driving tickets on your record can result in a failed background check, so make sure to stay on the good side of the law at all times.

Step #6: Training And Probationary Period. If the background and physical/mental evaluations went well, you’ll be hired as a probationary firefighter. Keep in mind that it may take a few months to even a few years before this happens, as it depends on job openings at your fire department.

During probation, you’ll need to complete fire training (Firefighter I & II). Training lasts for around 20-30 weeks and totals 350 to 400 hours. You’ll also learn about the day to day workings of the department and get to meet other fire fighters at your station. You’ll need to pay for fire training (typically around $4,000 to $6,000), though it is possible in some cases to get funding for the academy. The probationary period lasts for 6 to 12 months and during this time you’ll be receiving a salary, which will increase significantly once your probationary period is done.

Depending on the department, you may also need to complete EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) training during your probationary period. This is not required by all departments in Indiana though.

Congratulations! After passing fire academy and completing your probationary period, you’ll be hired as a full-time professional Indiana firefighter.

Some Extra Tips:

  • Always carry a valid driver’s license with you. It will be required to attend the written exam, the oral interview, the CPAT test, the physical check-up, and everything else.
  • Make sure to stay in great physical shape and to lower your body fat levels to an absolute minimum.
  • Don’t use any recreational drugs, as surprise drug tests are often carried out even after you are hired by the fire department

How To Become a Firefighter in Indianapolis?

The procedure for becoming a Firefighter in Indianapolis is almost exactly the same as what we’ve described above, with a few small differences:

  • You can fill out your pre-eliminary application online, for example at the Indianapolis Fire Department website.
  • Once you complete your CPAT / Physical ability test, you’ll also need to pass another test, which is the aerial ladder climb. This one is also a pass/fail test, just like the CPAT.

What Is The Average Salary of a Firefighter in Indiana (IN)?

As of 2013, the average salary of a Firefighter in Indiana is $43,850 annually. Probationary firefighters can expect to earn less than that, closer to $30,000 a year. Your salary increases with every year you remain in the Indiana fire service, reaching its maximum after 5 years of experience. After that point, your salary will increase if and when you achieve a higher rank within the fire department. Indiana fire Chiefs can expect to earn as much as $95,000 a year.

How To Become a Firefighter in Indiana (IN) – Summary

We hope this guide has been helpful and that it will increase your chances of becoming a firefighter in the state of Indiana. Do let us know if any part of the process above was unclear, and we’ll come back to you with an answer.

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