Top 10 California Fire Academies

Fire fighting is no ordinary job, at least not the type you can postpone when there’s a fire alert. Firefighters are thought of as brave, swift, and alert individuals who find no difficulty working under pressure. So, if you are going to be one and you reside in California, you need to be trained in any of these California Fire Academies.

And yes, that is true but that is not all it takes to be a firefighter. Firefighters are also required to respond to medical emergencies (EMTs), execute rescues, and maintain physical fitness.

All these and many more can only be learned in an accredited fire academy.

California is home to a good number of great fire academies that prepare students for a career in firefighting in California’s fire departments. California fire academies are at the heart of California’s fire service with a majority of the firefighters having undertaken training in at least one of them.

Known for intensive training and state-of-the-art facilities, California firefighting academies are faced with the task of ensuring the high cases of fires in California do not get the better of their state.

California recorded a total of 9,917 fires in the previous year among other emergencies. This is why it is important for California to offer the very best fire training in their fire academies.

What Is A Fire Academy?

Thinking of getting certification as a firefighter or joining the fire service? A fire academy is a right place to start.

It is a learning and training institution set up to teach students the skills and knowledge of the Firefighter I and Firefighter II Certifications among many other programs.

California fire academies provide the much-needed fire training for individuals employed in the fire service. Firefighter I certification is often considered for entry-level in fire service.

Why Attend A Fire Academy In California?

Serving in the fire service comes as no easy task unless of course, you undertake the right training for it. California firefighting academies provide necessary training to students on how to think and function clearly in real-life fire situations and skillfully apply the knowledge acquired through intensive drills and exercises.

You are able to respond more efficiently in the real world after undertaking fire training in which you learn skills to make your job safer.

Which Body Accredits Fire Academies In California?

Accreditation is given by the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) to fire academies in California. The OSFM ensures standardized delivery in fire training through the overall regulation of academic institutions and fire agencies.

It accredits the best fire academies and training bodies and also establishes the set of criteria for recognizing accredited institutions and agencies.

Accredited Academies are divided into two groups; Accredited Regional Training Programs (ARTP) and Accredited Local Academies (ALA). An Accredited Regional Training Program (ARTP) is a partnership between an accredited community college or university and the OSFM to deliver approved State Fire Training (SFT) curriculum within a given region.

On the other hand, an Accredited Local Academy (ALA) is a partnership between a fire agency serving a specific authority having jurisdiction and the OSFM to deliver an approved SFT curriculum within a given region.

How Long Is The Fire Academy In California?

On average, completing a program of fire training in a fire academy in Southern California takes about 18 weeks. Programs vary depending on the fire academy and certification, however, most are as short as 10 weeks and others 24.

Expectations in the real world fire encounters are life-threatening and challenging. They require a given level of skill for you to be able to handle them professionally and as such weeks of intensive training contribute a lot towards one’s performance.

How Much Does The Fire Academy Cost In California?

In considering which fire academy to attend, the cost plays an important role in many student’s decision-making. So what does it take to enroll in one of California’s fire training institutions?

For a program in a fire academy in California, tuition usually falls somewhere between $1000 and $9000 while other costs such as books, off-campus room, and board are slightly above $20,0000.

In-state students are charged much less compared to out-of-state students when it comes to tuition and should expect anywhere from $1000 to $4000. Variations in the cost are dependent on the academy and course undertaken.

Other variable costs include student health fees, student fees, and materials that may or may not be absorbed in the final cost.

How Do I Join The Fire Academy In California?

To successfully complete the application stage in the fire academy in California, you may have to possess one or more of the following requirements;

  • Applicants must be at least 18 years old by the application deadline
  • Possess a valid driver’s license or ID
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Completed your Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certificate

And in some cases, you may be required to complete a selection of college units prior to applying for the firefighter’s examination.

Does Cal Fire Have An Academy?

Yes. Cal Fire, The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, has two training academies in California. First is the Cal Fire Training Center (CFTC) which supports Cal Fire’s responsibility to protect the people, property, and natural resources of the State of California.

Cal Fire Training Center South (CFTCS) is the second academy that meets the critical training needs of the Department due to trends related to the increasing size and severity of wildfires throughout California.

Cal Fire provides year-round training in fire prevention and protection, emergency response, law enforcement, and enhancement of natural resource systems. 

How Many Fire Academies Are In California?

California has 61 fire academies. The academies provide training in fire protection and safety technology, fire science and firefighting, and fire services administration as well as certificates, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in these fields.

Most of these academies are well known for producing a highly skilled and knowledgeable workforce in the fire departments of California with the aid of state-of-the-art facilities and intensive fire drills.

What Are The Top 10 Fire Academies In California?

Because of the large number of fire academies in California, we have listed a selection of the very best based on several factors such as the fire fighting program and cost of attendance.

The list offers a guide to help you with your decision-making while considering which fire academy is to your liking. Here are the top 10 fire academies in California;

#1. Allan Hancock College

The Academy’s core content is designed to prepare students for initial employment in the field of Fire Technology. Located in Santa Maria, California, Allan Hancock College is a public community college that has trained firefighters for more than fifty years.

Allan Hancock College is ranked at #12 in the Top 50 Fire Schools in California. The fire academy in Southern California is known for its impressive facilities and its core focus on upskilling and fire training.


  • In state: USD 1,352
  • Out of state: USD 7,504


  • Fire Technology – Associate in Science
  • Fire Technology – Certificate of Achievement
  • Firefighter I Academy – Certificate of Accomplishment

#2. College of the Siskiyous

This rigorous program is designed to prepare you to work as a firefighter or help you upgrade your skills if you are already working in the profession. College of the Siskiyous is a public community college in Siskiyou County in Northern California.

The primary goal of their fire programs is to expose students to the most comprehensive introduction to the field of fire service. The Fire/Emergency Response Technology program at College of the Siskiyous is approved as an Accredited Regional Training Program by the California State Board of Fire Services.


  • In state: USD 1,156
  • Out of state: USD 7,348


  • Firefighter I
  • Firefighter II
  • Company Officer

#3. Shasta College

The program prepares students for careers in firefighting, provides in-service training to career and volunteer firefighters, and includes certification. Shasta College is a public community college in Redding, California.

This academy is an Accredited Regional Training Program approved by the California State Board of Fire Service. It is ranked #9 best colleges for fire sciences degree programs 2018-19 and offers the Fire Fighter 1 and Fire Fighter 2 Academy that are up to date with California State Fire Training.

There are also EMS and EMT programs run through Shasta College, so you could choose this college and run with it for all your core certifications.


  • In state: USD 1,186
  • Out of state: USD 6,802


  • Fire Technology Associate of Science Degree
  • Firefighter I Certificate
  • Firefighter II Certificate
  • Wildland Firefighter Certificate

#4. Yuba College

The fire academy offers several courses for people interested in a career in firefighting and students looking to transfer to an institution of higher learning.

Yuba College is a public community college in Marysville, Yuba County, California. It serves students pursuing a transfer degree, those seeking high-paying entry-level employment following completion of state-certified training, and those currently employed in the fire service profession in need of updated skill and knowledge to stay current in their field.   


  • In state: USD 1,124
  • Out of state: USD 7,484


  • Associate Of Science in Fire Technology
  • Basic Wildland Fire
  • Firefighter I
  • Firefighter II
  • Low Angle Rope Rescue

#5. Fresno City College

A Californian public community college in Fresno, Fresno City College’s fire programs have been consistent in meeting the highest level of firefighter training in the state.

The 22 week-long programs offered both in the Summer/Fall semester and Spring semester prepare students for upper-division course work towards a bachelor’s degree.

Firefighter II training in January which doesn’t seem to be central to their offerings is offered as well.


  • In state: USD 1,304
  • Out of state: USD 7,664


  • Fire Academy
  • Degrees in Fire Technology
  • EMT and Paramedic Training
  • State Fire Training Classes

#6. Antelope Valley College

Antelope Valley College is a fire academy in Southern California that offers a comprehensive suite of fire education. Antelope Valley College (AVC) is a public community college in Lancaster, California ranked at #14 in the top 50 fire schools in California.

The programs are designed to provide the pre-employment skills required for the career firefighter. It presents enhanced training for students seeking employment or desiring to increase skills in the fire service profession.


  • In state: USD 1,124
  • Out of state: USD 6,380


  • Firefighter I Academy
  • Wildland Fire Academy
  • Associates Degree Program

#7. El Camino College

El Camino College is ranked #18 in the Top 50 Fire Schools in California. Formerly known as the South Bay Fire Academy, it offers certified programs to prepare cadets for a career in firefighting both in the public and private sector.

With 50 years of experience training firefighters for the South Bay Fire Departments, graduates of the El Camino Fire Academy have been hired throughout the county, state, and nation.

The program goal/objective of the Fire Academy is to provide an academic, behavioral, physical, and manipulative skills base. This program does not currently offer part-time instruction and EMT or Associates’s degrees in fire technology.


  • In state: USD 1,144
  • Out of state: USD 6,880


  • Firefighter I
  • Fire Control III: Live Fire Training
  • Fire Control IV: Gas Fire Training
  • Fire Control VI: Wild Land
  • Fire Control VII: Wildland Fire Fighting
  • Auto Extrication
  • Confined Space Awareness
  • Haz-Mat First Responder Operational

#8. Oxnard College

The requirements for physical fitness for each recruit in Oxnard College are both strenuous and demanding and only exceeded by the academic standards where excellence is expected, not just requested.

Oxnard College is a public community college in Oxnard, California with #25 ranking in the Top 50 Fire Schools in California.

Oxnard College Regional Fire Academy is an accredited Regional Training program (ARTP) as designated by the Office of the California State Fire Marshal (CSFM) and is authorized to deliver a CSFM Accredited Fire Fighter I/II Academy and a full suite of CSFM courses leading advanced levels of certification.


  • In state: USD 1,394
  • out of state: USD 7,398


  • Wildland Academy
  • EMT Classes
  • Lifeguard Academy

#9. Rio Hondo College

Rio Hondo College is a public community college in North Whittier, California whose programs are intended to provide an educated recruit base for fire departments in the state of California.

Ranking at #10 best colleges for fire science degree programs 2018-19, the Fire Technology Department at Rio Hondo College offers a California State Fire Marshal Accredited Firefighter I Academy, Wildland Fire Academy and a Los Angeles County approved Emergency Medical Technician Program.


  • In state: USD 1,360
  • Out of state: USD 8,584


  • Firefighter I Academy
  • Wildland Fire Academy 
  • Emergency Medical Technician Program

#10. Bakersfield College

This program is designed to meet the dynamic challenges of fire department needs for pre-service recruits in the 21st century and enabling students to successfully become employed by fire departments throughout the state of California.

Bakersfield College is a public community college in Bakersfield, California. BC serves about 22,000 students each semester. This academy is recognized by and meets the California State Fire Training and Education Services certified training program.


  • In state: USD 1,325
  • Out of state: USD 7,737


  • Fire Fighter I Academy Certificate of Achievement
  • Wildland Firefighting Associate of Science Degree
  • Executive Chief Fire Officer Certificate of Achievement
  • Fire Technology Associate of Arts Degree
  • Fire Technology Certificate of Achievement
  • Fire Academy Job Skills Certificate
  • Wildland Firefighting Job Skills Certificate

Frequent Questions and Answers

What disqualifies you from being a firefighter?

Conditions that impair physical performance and physically or morally harmful behavior.

When can I enter the fire service?

After completing the Fire Fighter I certificate.

Can I enroll in a fire academy without a background in fire training?

How often do firefighters recruit?

How many hours do firefighters work?

Usually, a 24 hours shift on, and 48-72 hours off.


It is hard not to find a fire academy that matches your preferences in California. California offers a large selection of fire academies and the best there is each with a unique proposition in fire training and education.

Facilities for fire training and fire exercises ought to be your focus when picking your choice of fire academy as they will play an important role when you are hired in the fire service.

As you may soon discover when you are successfully enrolled in California’s fire academies, some training sessions are quite demanding both physically and mentally but this is only a peek into what lies ahead in real-world emergencies.

Being the first responders to fire alerts and other emergencies, the service of firefighters is highly appreciated by all communities. Have you had any experience with a fire academy and fire department? Let us know about it, we would love to hear it.


  • Wikipedia– Firefighting Academies
  • Cal Fire– California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
  • Fire Science– Fire Science Degree Programs in California

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