Professional Development Training Options for the Aspiring Firefighter

by | Apr 26, 2022 | 0 comments

In this BLOG, we will look at some more content from our Amazon Best Selling recruitment guidebook publication titled “So You Want to Be a Firefighter Eh?” which is Canada’s largest, most comprehensive book ever written on the fire service hiring process.

With the many options available to aspiring and veteran firefighters, we will discuss the benefits of choosing the right fire service training courses, to take your application to new heights. It’s time to “level up” in this month’s Firehouse BLOG.

Choosing the right training courses, post-secondary education and professional development programs is a very important part of the hiring and application process. It is also important for professional firefighters and their career succession planning. Every year, institutions are pushing out thousands of firefighting program graduates. And guess what most of them have in common? At that point in time they have the same, if not similar resumes, and overall firefighter education as the other graduates around them.

To be successful as a future firefighter, you must find ways to stand out and make your application more well-rounded than the rest of the applicant pool. What attributes, skills, or additional training courses should you obtain to make yourself better than your competition? This process is called obtaining professional development and continuous learning, and this is the staple of a strong fire service application. This is important for recruitments from firefighting operations, to fire prevention careers, and even a dispatcher position. There are many options and things to consider. The one thing I will say is a firefighter candidate must … ALWAYS BE TRAINING.

Quality over Quantity

There are so many fantastic opportunities out there currently when it comes to training courses, on-line classes, and practical education available to those within the fire service. Whether it is signing up for an online course, or attending a firefighting conference to learn more, there is no such thing as bad training. However, when it comes to maximizing your application score points and having a quality resume, it should not be mistaken that the quality of your training is very important.

The fire service will always look highly upon post-secondary diplomas, skilled trades, college certificates, and university degrees. The ability to complete formal post-secondary education or skilled trade does not only speak about the educational topic you may have learned and graduated from, but also speaks to the work ethic, discipline, motivation, and study habits required to complete this formal education process. It is important that whether you have completed a degree in psychology, a skilled trade as an electrician, received a diploma in mechanical engineering, and even finished a certificate program in culinary arts, that you always look to the transferrable aspects of your post-secondary education. Consider how what you have learned will tie into a career as a firefighter within your applications, resume and cover letter.

You need to really make yourself stand out, and become better-rounded than your competition. Try to avoid taking the same courses that everyone around you is taking. Technical rescue training such as rope rescue, auto extrication, ice water rescue, and confined space are absolutely fantastic skills to obtain, but the fire service is changing, and training trends will change with it. To improve your application, look to courses that will be the future of the ever-evolving fire service, rather than taking traditional courses. With the ongoing changes in our day-to-day functions and tasks as a fire department, you can also stand out to an interview panel by showing you are preparing yourself for the changes expected over the next decade.

Does your competition have courses and training in fighting flammable liquids or hazardous material fires? What about some education in the transportation of dangerous goods? How about understanding flow-path fire attack and vent-enter-search methods? Do they have training in incident management systems, fire safety and prevention or training in terrorism awareness strategies? What about training on using fire safety or building plans in an emergency or dealing with allied agencies such as security and law enforcement? Radio communication programs or additional health and safety courses are also a nice touch to make your application different than the rest of the applicants, and stand out. Tactical ventilation or fire attack principles of fighting a high-rise fire in a growing vertical city sounds like a course that will prepare you for city growth, if you are applying for positions in metropolitan areas. Consider courses that prepare you to be mentally healthy: do your competing candidates have training in mental health and leadership fundamentals? Have you thought about a training program to enhance your soft skills in the areas of conflict management, or diversity and LGBTQ principles?

Think outside the box, and you will put yourself in a better position for landing a job in the fire service, and successful in an upcoming promotional process. The fire service is looking for those candidates with a more diverse skill set than the average applicant; a more skilled veteran during a company officer or chief promotional process, and a forward-thinking approach help to show that you are that firefighter they want within the service, and grow within that fire department over a long-term career.

Check out our website at to download our new firefighter recruitment checklist, which is designed to assist the candidate in choosing the right professional training programs to maximize your application score for today’s modern fire service.

Adam McFadden is a recruit training officer, a professional firefighter and hazmat technician and for one of the largest fire departments in Canada, and Amazon Best-Selling Author for his fire service recruitment guidebook “So you Want to be a Firefighter Eh?” He is the owner of Firehouse Training and is responsible for the program development of various career coaching and fire service training programs.  Adam has taught multiple fire service disciplines including incident command fundamentals, hazardous materials and high-rise firefighting tactics and has assisted hundreds of students across Canada, navigate through the fire department hiring and recruitment process.

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