How can you become a Firefighter?

The men and women who work for the Modesto Fire Department have dedicated their lives to a career that helps others. Professionalism, a "can do" attitude, and sensitivity to community needs are all part of being a successful firefighter in our community.

To learn more about a career in firefighting, please select from the following pages:

  • What is a professional firefighter?
    • The Modesto Regional Fire Authority is staffed by professional firefighters who have chosen a career in the fire service. In addition to fighting fires, the firefighter must deal with a wide range of emergency situations, natural disasters, civil disturbances, and medical emergencies.
    • To handle these emergencies effectively requires a great deal of training and practice. The professional firefighter will study the science of fire and hydraulics, rescue, emergency medicine, ventilation, salvage and overhaul, hose, rope and ladder procedures, and forcible entry. Firefighters also learn to operate and maintain fire apparatus and equipment.
    • To assist in the Fire Department's goal of preventing fires, firefighters study fire origin and cause, conduct building inspections, present fire safety programs, and education and even conduct station tours.
    • The position of firefighter works on a 24 hours shift schedule. There are a variety of career opportunities within the department and the chance to gain personal satisfaction by helping people in the community
  • How can you become a firefighter?
    • You first must become a firefighter trainee. The hiring process for the position of firefighter trainee involves the following steps, all of which must be completed satisfactorily to be considered for the position.
    • A candidate must:
    • Have a high school diploma or the equivalent.
    • Be at least 21 years of age at the time of final filing of application.
    • Pass the written entry level test.
    • Pass job related physical performance exercises.
    • Pass medical examination.
    • Possess a valid California class "C" driver's license. Possession of no less than a Class 2 operator's license is required prior to completion of the 12-month probation.
    • Pass an oral interview conducted by selection committee with a minimum score of 70%.
    • Pass a thorough background investigation.
    • Possess a current Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) card is required at time of application.
    • Possess a valid E.M.T. certificate at the time of application.
    • Possession of a Firefighter 1 Certificate OR graduation from a Firefighter 1 academy certified by the State Fire Marshal's Office OR the completion of 15 semester units of college coursework in Fire Science "major" courses. A list of classes including name of school, course title, number of units and date completed must be attached to the application. College transcripts will also be required by date of oral board interview.
    • Key skills and abilities
    • Learn the layout of the City's water main system and street numbering system.
    • Retain presence of mind in emergency situations.
    • Think and act quickly and effectively in emergencies.
    • Understand and follow oral and written directions promptly and accurately.
    • Perform general office and clerical duties in support of assigned activities.
    • Perform heavy lifting and physical maneuvering.
    • Communicate effectively, both orally and in writing.
    • Pass all required oral, manipulative and written exams for Firefighter Trainee.
    • Establish and maintain cooperative working relationships with those contacted in the course of work.
  • The Process
    • If you are interested in becoming a firefighter, the first step is to visit the City of Modesto's Personnel Department. The office is located on the second floor of Tenth Street Place, 1010 Tenth Street. Obtain an application packet. The packet of forms must be completed by the final filing date. Failure to complete the forms accurately will result in disqualification.
    • Written Test
    • A written test will be administered to accepted applicants. The scope of the written test may include any of the qualification requirements listed. The written test may include, but is not limited to: understanding oral information, reading comprehension, analyzing data and true/false and multiple choice questions.
    • Physical Agility Test
    • A physical agility test will be conducted to determine if the candidate is physically able to perform various tasks related to the job of firefighting within certain time constraints. This will be rated on a pass/fail basis. Successful candidates will be scheduled for a qualifications appraisal panel.
    • Qualifications Appraisal Panel
    • The qualifications appraisal panel will assess the candidate's education and experience as they relate to the position in any of the qualification areas listed. Successful candidates will be placed on the eligible list.
    • Medical Examination
    • Prior to appointment a medical examination will be required. At the time of hire, preference will be given to non-smoking candidates.
    • Background Investigation
    • Prior to appointment, a background investigation will be conducted to insure a candidate's personal characteristics are suitable and the information supplied is accurate. The background investigation may include fingerprinting, review of employment history, driving and conviction record.
    • Selection Process
    • At the completion of the exam process, names of qualifying candidates will be placed on an eligible list from which vacancies will be filled. Placement on the list does not guarantee employment. Candidates are informed whether or not they achieved list placement but are not informed of their rank or scores. Eligible candidates selected as firefighter trainee are placed in an apprenticeship program.
    • Women and Minorities Encouraged
    • The City of Modesto is an equal opportunity employer to all regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, ancestry, sex, marital status, disability, religious or political affiliation, age, or sexual orientation
  • Career opportunities as a firefighter
    • A career with the Modesto Fire Department may lead you into any of the following areas:
    • Fire Suppression
    • As a firefighter, you will provide emergency services directly related to fire protection and emergency medical care.
    • Hazardous Materials
    • As a firefighter, you may respond to hazardous material spills. As a first responder you will provide for rescue and first aid, product identification, protection from exposure, containment and personnel protection
    • Training Division
    • All areas of firefighter training, including recruit training, are the responsibility of the Training Captain and staff.
      Training is an ongoing process and will be required throughout your career with the department.
    • Fire Prevention Bureau
    • The Fire Prevention Bureau is under the direction of the Fire Marshal and coordinates building inspections, fire investigations, and public education and information. Fire prevention officers conduct inspections and present fire safety programs. Fire investigators are responsible for determining the origin and cause of suspicious fire and pursuing arson cases through the court system.
    • Emergency Preparedness
    • Emergency preparedness is under the direction of a Fire Division Chief who is responsible for the preparation and carrying out of plans for the protection of persons and property within the City of Modesto. The Division Chief liaisons with other emergency organizations, coordinates the emergency function of Modesto with all other public agencies, corporations, organizations, and affected private persons.
    • Administration
    • The Fire Administration building is where the Fire Chief, Division Chiefs and other support staff members are located. The daily operations of the department are directed by this office, as well as personnel administration, budgetary management, research and planning.
  • Physical performance
    • For Modesto Fire Department employment, applicants must obtain or possess a current Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) card of completion issued by the California Fire Fighter Joint Apprenticeship Committee (CFFJAC) by the time of scheduled oral interview AND at the time of Job offer. Visit www.CPATonline.org for test times and schedule. The City of Modesto will NOT be conducting a Physical Ability Test locally.
    • If you are serious about becoming a firefighter, you might want to tailor your weight regimen to help you pass a firefighting physical ability test. The Candidate Physical Ability Test, administered by CFFJAC, measures the capabilities of firefighting recruits along eight job-specific areas.
    • Stair Climb - in full protective clothing
    • Hose Drag - maneuvering around obstacles
    • Equipment Carry - moving power tools to and from an emergency scene
    • Ladder Raise and Extension - from ground ladder to roof or window
    • Forcible Entry - breaking through a locked door or knocking down a wall
    • Search - searching for a victim in limited visibility
    • Rescue - removing a person from a scene
    • Ceiling Breach and Pull - bringing down a ceiling
    • A good way to determine whether your current fitness regime will help you pass the test would be to talk to a firefighter, and ask what works for them! Click here to learn more about the CPAT.
  • Education
    • Firefighters must have a good educational background. It is essential for them to be able to read, write and do mathematical calculations. Some suggested high school courses are English, algebra, physical education, biology, history, auto mechanics, building construction, physical science and chemistry.
    • College Education:
    • Modesto Junior College offers a Fire Science A.S. Degree program. Many of the classes listed below are available:
    • English, physical fitness, biology, history, speech, physical science, mathematics, psychology, introduction to computers, introduction to fire technology, fundamentals of personal fire safety, fundamentals of fire prevention, fire protection equipment and systems, building construction for fire protection, fire behavior and control, hazardous materials, fire service communication systems.
    • Team Sports:
    • Organized team sports are excellent for developing your coordination, motor skills and endurance. In preparation for a fire service career, you can practice being a "team player" and working in concert with others toward the same goals, by participating in team sports.