Top 10 Certifications You Need To Become a Firefighter

There is no doubt that the role of a firefighter in our communities is both essential and commendable. Firefighters are not only rescuers or lifesavers, they are also the first responders that save neighborhoods from losing valuable property from large inextinguishable fires and sometimes save animals from life-threatening situations.

And as such, this is a demanding task that requires only highly trained professionals to successfully execute. The fire service is a wide field and more often than not, firefighters may have to decide what area of specialty they would like to focus on in their career.

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This is where firefighting certifications come in. Firefighters certifications and in many cases firefighting EMT certifications are very important programs that provide the specialized training you need to become not just a firefighter, but a firefighter that is great at their job.

Certified firefighters also stand better chances to grow in their careers thanks to the specialized training that qualifies them as experts in a given area of fire service.

And the best way to do that is by pursuing the right firefighters’ certifications which we shall look at later on.

Why Get A Firefighting Certification?

Many looking to join the fire service are always wondering what to expect out of pursuing a fire certification.

Firefighting like any other profession requires specialized skilling in order to do what is expected of you with little to no amateur mistakes.

As a certified firefighter, you can present your firefighting certificate(s) to your fire department upon completion for a role you deem suitable for you. Fire fighting certification equips students with the skills needed at an entry level in a firefighting department.

You are able to learn firefighting languages and codes used, basic emergency operations, firefighting organization, and use of tools as well as medical responses to injured victims at the scene or in response to a medical emergency.

Far more advanced firefighting certification gives you the ability to perform roles such as community fire mitigation and protection and emergency and disaster incident management, evaluating operational procedures to improve efficiency and enforce the regulation, fire administration, and finance among many others.

Read: How can I become a Firefighter | Cost, School, Career, Salary

What Certifications Do Firefighters Need?

There are several firefighter certifications you may need depending on how far you want to advance in the fire service, but here’s an overview of a few for you to consider that’ll help you with your career ambitions.

1. Firefighter I certification

This program focuses on fire department organization, firefighter safety, basic rescue operations, personal protective equipment. They also look at fire control operations and fire behavior and combustion.

To learn the basics of fire fighting and medical response, you’ll need this certification with the Fighter II certification.

2. Firefighter II certification.

This program typically covers additional training in structural fire control and rescue operations. It also teaches you more about fire and life safety initiatives, preparedness, and maintenance.

It is a great choice to follow up with the Firefighter I certification.

3. Rescue Technician Certification.

You can learn techniques for rope and confined space rescues, vehicle and machinery rescues, and trench and structural collapse rescues in this certification program.

It is a series of three certifications; Rescue Technician [the basic certification], Rescue Technician I and II certifications.

4. Fire Inspector I-III Certification.

These firefighting certifications put you on a path of a fire inspector whose role is to inspect commercial and residential buildings. This is to ensure compliance with all safety regulations and fire and building codes.

Firefighter I-III inspector certification programs also include sections on federal, state, county, and city fire codes.

The syllabus covers fire prevention techniques, fire protection systems, and fire protection in building construction.

5. Fire Officer I-IV Certification.

Fire Officer I-IV certification programs mostly focus on fire administration and finance, public relations, community fire mitigation, and protection and emergency and disaster incident management.

A fire officer is a firefighter at a senior level who supervises rank and file firefighters, evaluates operational procedures to improve efficiency and enforce regulations, and helps plan and carry out fire department training programs.

Fire officers are also identified as fire safety officers.

Read: Top 10 California Fire Academies

Do Firefighter Certifications Expire?

Yes, firefighter certifications are valid for 1 year.

A firefighter certification expires on December 31st and to renew your firefighting certification, you would have to complete a 24 hour continued training.

A recertification form is sent to the Chief of your Department of record for verification of your continued training towards the expiration of your firefighter certification.

It is a requirement for all new firefighters to undergo extensive training that normally lasts between 12 and 16 weeks.

And as for firefighters who have been doing the job for a couple of years, you are required to do ongoing training to ensure you are familiar with the training and changes that may have been made.

How Much Does A Firefighting Certification Cost?

Ranging from $5,000-$25,000. Depending on the school and what courses you take, the cost of a firefighting certification falls somewhere between $5000-$25,000 inclusive of other costs.

The tuition cost for all students is about $5000 while other costs include uniforms at $150 and bunker gear purchase or rental which can range from $400 to $1,500.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Firefighting Certification?

It takes 3 weeks to get firefighting certification.

A firefighting certification program on average takes about 12 to 14 weeks to complete a total of 600 hours of training. The length of firefighter training will vary depending on the department.

After completing the program, it’ll take at least 3 weeks for your certification to be issued.

What Is CSFM Certification?

CSFM stands for California State Fire Marshal.

The California State Fire Marshal certification is the CAL FIRE program that protects life and property through the development and application of fire prevention, engineering, training and education, and enforcement.

All firefighting certifications are issued by the California State Fire Marshal. This is a firefighters certification that is approved through the California Community College Chancellor’s Office.

Once you have fully met the listed requirements and filled in an application for graduation with Admissions and Records, the student’s transcript will reflect the completion of this certificate.

What Medical Certifications Do Firefighters Need?

Fire departments usually require firefighters to have at least an EMT-Basic certification, however other departments may require paramedic certification.

Today, it is a common requirement in the fire service for firefighters to be EMT certified.

Firefighters today respond to fewer fire alerts as compared to medical emergencies. The best medical certifications for you to pursue are;

  • EMT-Basic certification
  • Paramedic certification

How To Get A Firefighting Certification.

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you successfully acquire a firefighting certification.

  • Identify the field of specialty you would like to pursue
  • Complete the necessary courses required of you
  • Enrol in a fire academy that offers the firefighter certification of your interest
  • Once the program is complete, you will be handed your certification by the fire academy
  • Volunteer or apply the fire fighting roles of your specialty to get hands on experience

Requirements by most fire academies for a firefighter certification are:

  • A high school diploma or GED
  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • A valid state driver’s license

You must pass a written exam, physical fitness test, and a medical exam that includes a drug test to become certified after completing the training and may also be required to complete basic first aid and CPR training and certification.

What Are The Best Firefighter Certifications In 2022?

Below are the top firefighter certifications you should pursue to propel your firefighter career further. They provide you with the skills required in various fields in the fire service. Here is a firefighter certifications list of the top 10:

#1. Fire Prevention Officer Certificate – Santa Ana College

This Fire Prevention Officer Certificate is offered by Santa Ana College.

It is designed to prepare students as Fire Protection Engineering Technicians and as staff assistants to Fire Protection Engineers.

You acquire the skills to enable fire department personnel to upgrade skills in the area of prevention; and to give architects, engineers, and persons from other disciplines an opportunity to expand their knowledge of building, life safety, and fire protection.

Through this program, you will be able to identify and evaluate hazardous conditions that are inherent to Fire Prevention.

This firefighting certificate program meets the requirements of the California State Board of Fire Services Certified Firefighter I and college or university preparation.

#2. Certified Fire Inspector II – National Fire Protection Association

Certified Fire Inspector II (CFI-II) is a firefighter program designed to cover the codes and expands the fire inspector certification track to include the NFPA 24 and NFPA 220 standards.

It requires more than two years of education or training after high school as well as work experience.

The program helps you to demonstrate the written and verbal communication skills required for entry-level Fire Inspector positions.

It is offered by National Fire Protection Association.

#3. First Aid Certification – American Red Cross

This certification is designed for individuals with a duty to respond to emergencies.

The First Aid Certification program provides training that is vital and crucial in a life-threatening situation in which first aid could save a life and/or help reduce the damage/injury.

First Aid certification program combines discussions, video, and hands-on training and with real-life rescue scenarios to reinforce decision-making skills.

The program focuses on how to respond to breathing and cardiac emergencies in adults, children, and infants until more advanced medical personnel take over.

It is offered by American Red Cross.


#4. Firefighter I certificate – Shasta College

This certification is offered by Shasta College. Firefighter 1 certificate is an intense program that provides training in rigorous physical conditioning.

The Firefighter 1 certificate program includes what is necessary for you to learn the essential skills and obtain the required knowledge in firefighting.

It gives you the ability to perform at the entry-level in a volunteer or paid fire department as a firefighter in the State of California.

The English are designed for firefighters as well as classroom and field training with the same tools and appliances used by the fire service.

#5. Basic Life Support (BLS) – American Heart Association

The Basic Life Support (BLS) is a program offered by American Heart Association for Healthcare Providers.

The program is designed to provide a wide variety of healthcare professionals with the ability to recognize several life-threatening emergencies, provide CPR, use an AED, and relieve choking in a safe, timely, and effective manner.

The Basic Life Support program is a key certification for you if you are looking to pursue more medical-related certification to strengthen your firefighting EMT qualification.

Many certified firefighters have taken up medical certifications due to the rise in medical emergencies compared to fire alerts.

#6. CPR/BLS Core Knowledge – Brainbench

This program focuses on Adult CPR-Single Rescuer, Adult CPR-Two Rescuer, Airway, Cardiopulmonary Arrest, Child CPR, Choking, Circulation, Infant CPR, Medicolegal/Ethical Considerations, and Personal Protection/Universal Precautions.

It is designed for all health care professionals to and measures their knowledge of the core Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation/Basic Life-Saving techniques.

This test will verify an individual’s knowledge of the concepts and subjects tested.

The results of this test do not imply that the individual possesses the necessary skills to perform a specific procedure, nor treatment, nor is licensed, nor authorized, to practice any health care profession under any applicable laws.

#7. Fire Inspector 1 Certification – Office of the State Fire Marshal

Fire Inspector 1 is a program that provides professional training to fire officers to identify and mitigate fire risks and safety hazards in buildings to ensure they meet fire codes.

Officers are able to take actions to ensure properties are in compliance with regulations and locate fire violations. You are also able to provide organizational support to fire departments and firefighters as a certified fire inspector.

It is offered by the Office of the State Fire Marshal. The Fire Inspector 1 certification program is usually followed up with a Fire Inspector 2 certification by most firefighters.

#8. Fire Inspector 2 Certfication – Office of the State Fire Marshal

This is an OFSM program designed to utilize NFPA 1031 Standard for Professional Qualifications for Fire Inspector and Plan Examiner (2014).

The Fire Inspector 2 certification program provides you with the necessary training in fire management, risk assessment and supervision of firefighters.

You also receive classroom instruction in identifying and handling hazardous materials, such as flammables and explosives.

The Fire Inspector 2 certification is a great program for you to pursue after completing the Fire Inspector 1 certification program.

#9. Medical Assistant – The American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians

A medical assistant is a multi-skilled professional and an asset to a physician. The roles expected of one vary depending on the employer’s needs. This Medical Assistant program is offered by The American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians.

The roles usually expected of you include updating and filling medical records, arranging for hospital admissions and laboratory services. It is not entirely inclined towards firefighting but it is a good take to develop stronger skills in the medical function of the fire service.

#10. First Aid, CPR and AED Instructor – National Safety Council

Offered by National Safety Council, this firefighting certification program teaches you how to respond to a first aid or CPR emergency and this is one of the most important skills you can possess.

The Standard First Aid, CPR and AED course is a tool for training employees or the general public on the latest skills, techniques and expertise in life-saving procedures.

The practice and feedback of using related skills in a realistic situation is integrated into the actual teaching experience. This First Aid, CPR and AED program meets the OSHA requirements.

Read: Fire Service Recruitment: Portal, Exams, Ranks

FAQs firefighting certification

How long does fire certification take?

How long is fire academy in California?

What does NFPA stand for?

National Fire Protection Association

What do I need for NFPA approval?

Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in a Fire Protection related discipline from an accredited learning institution

Does Cal Fire require EMT certification?

Some Cal Fire units do based on operational needs.


Certifications in a career in the fire service are both developmental and educational for firefighters. They help firefighters develop and pursue their specialty in which they would like to grow their careers.

Many hiring departments give superiority to certifications when it comes to specialty roles because of the high level of skill it requires.

It is important for you to also pursue medical certifications as a firefighter today as the roles are getting broader and much more involved in medical emergencies.

The list is put together based on the impact of the certification in a firefighter’s career and compiled to help guide you in your career growth decisions as a firefighter.

Thinking of getting a firefighter certification or you already have one? Share your experience with our community in the comments.



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