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How To Become a Firefighter in West Virginia

Despite Mother Nature’s well-known blessings as home of our nation’s famous Appalachian and majestic Allegheny Mountain ranges, West Virginia seems quite determined to honor its official state motto pledge, “Mountaineers are always free.” The Mountain State is a very fitting official nickname for West Virginia, as nearly 75% of its total 24,400-square mile land space is covered by thick woodlands amid dense forestry. However, that same accident of geography creates unique public safety threats due to uneven peaks and valleys in tough physical terrain. For that same reason, highly qualified firefighters are always in short supply to protect local residents against potentially lethal blazes subject to erupt without a moment’s warning. Coal mining excavations are very hazardous operations due to highly volatile gases that are extremely flammable.

If you have serious desire to play a direct part in saving lives and taking pride in a vital job well done, read on for more guidance in the following list of hints to get hired as a professional West Virginia firefighter.

What it takes to meet basic qualifications for becoming a West Virginia firefighter

Like virtually all other U.S. state venues, specific rules vary somewhat among different local fire departments and municipalities in West Virginia. However, count on having to satisfy at least each one of the items listed below:

• Minimum age of 18 to 21 (many departments have maximum age around 35)
• A high school diploma or GED
• A clean criminal history (many departments conduct a full background check)
• A valid driver’s license with good driving record
• Be in great physical shape with a good bill of health signed by a licensed medical practitioner
• Pass a written general knowledge test to assess basic reading and math skills
• Pass a standardized comprehensive physical assessment (CPAT) to demonstrate muscular strength, manual dexterity and cardiovascular endurance

Another common threshold eligibility criterion in many larger West Virginia localities is passing a comprehensive written standardized Firefighter exam that tests knowledge level in fire related areas. The test is not easy and consists of 100 multiple-choice questions with accompanying illustrations of various tools and firefighting equipment prototypes. Applicants typically have two hours to complete the test and must earn usually 70% or better to pass.

For complete details about current requirements, contact desired local fire department(s) directly via data listed in a statewide county directory at http://www.wvfirefighters.com/directory.htm.

What Does West Virginia Firefighter Certification Coursework & Training Consist Of?

While precise specs do slightly differ among local West Virginia fire departments, Firefighter I certification is a virtually universal least common denominator for all new hires. Even in rare cases where FF-I training is not mandatory, eligible candidates can greatly enhance their odds of getting paid employment by obtaining as many fire-related educational and vocational training credentials as possible. This usually means the Bare Minimum Big Three FF I/II and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) certifications.

Common Topics Covered in West Virginia Firefighter I/II Certification Training Courses:

o Hazardous Materials Handling
o Hydraulics
o Emergency Vehicle & Fire Equipment Operation & Maintenance
o Forcible Entry
o Vehicle & Exterior Fire Extinguishment
o Victim Evacuation and Resuscitation
o Computer Skills
o Fire Department Administration & Data Management
o Mandatory Fire Incident Reporting Procedures
o Exercise Drills

All the above-listed and other subjects include classroom instruction with conventional written tests and homework as well as practical skills development. This is essential to ensure that new recruits are sufficiently proficient in performing vital tasks and making critical decisions under extreme pressure during severe crises.

President Obama Recently Proposed To Grant Prospective West Virginia First Responders Even More Great Educational Resources

Like the vast majority of vital public service programs, local fire departments have rapidly evolved into full-scale disaster response agencies during the last few decades. This is largely due to modern high-tech advances that have facilitated hazard mitigation and skilled rescue operations as mandatory firefighter duties nowadays. A nationwide increase in 911 emergency response interventions is especially significant for West Virginia first responders, given an older-than-average population over 40 that reside in sparsely populated communities separated by miles of rural wilderness.

Consequently, a college degree in Fire Sciences, Emergency Medical Services, Disaster Response, Homeland Security or another such related field can significantly enhance firefighters’ earnings potential and career advancement opportunities. This holds true for new recruits as well as seasoned firefighting veterans with decades of experience.

Fortunately, long overdue official recognition of that fact has finally been given. On January 8, 2015, U.S. President Barak Obama proposed the American Technical Training Fund (ATTF). Although specific details have not been released as of this writing, ATTF would provide up to $3,800 per academic year toward tuition costs for educational programs that offer “work-related learning opportunities.”

Per recent statistics, that sum is sufficient to pay ¾ of the average tuition cost for community colleges across America. Another major beneficial rule for ATTF grant recipients is that academic programs must either award transferable credit toward an accredited four-year bachelor’s degree or provide training for “in demand” occupational certifications and degree majors.

Thus, there’s no excuse for further hesitation or delay whatsoever. Take the initiative right now by clicking links listed just below to let elected reps in Washington know how West Virginia’s would-be EMS and firefighting specialists feel about higher education to advance the common welfare. Then launch a customized plan of attack to be in ideal position to take full advantage of ATTF benefits in the near future.

For more details, see the West Virginia State Firemen’s Association official website at http://www.wvsfa.org/category/training/.

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