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I have applied with several departments throughout California. I have taken the L.A. City written exam and am looking forward to a Chief's oral sometime in the future. This would be a dream career for the fact that I grew up in L.A. County and I love L.A. I love the diversity and the people. Alot of culture and history. I recently applied with City of Fresno Fire and getting prepared for the qualifying run. Should I focus on one or apply with many different depts. In my opinion working with any fire dept. would be a dream career but would definitely love to work for the City of Los Angeles. Could use some feedback. God Bless.

What have you done to prepare for this career?

Fire Science, A.S. Degree, EMT, Basic Fire Academy, Reserve? Or are you just taking open tests with no experience/training needed and hoping to get lucky?

I'm EMT certified, 7 months of volunteer experience through the VFC in Riverside County. Haz-Mat First Responder cert, completed the CPAT test. Ambulance Drivers license cert. It's not much but it's a start. Thanks.
God Bless, Scott Cowan

You are barely at the tip of starting your education. I would enroll in a fire science course and begin your pre-requisites for a basic fire academy. I know that Riverside Community has a BFA, you should look into them.

You need to start with the basics first. Get educated on the BASIC things are firefighter does, ladders, hose pulling, resuce systems, IFSTA book work, etc.

If it is your dream career then get in the game!!!!!!!

will check into RCC asap. Thanks for the tip.
God Bless, Scott Cowan

You also might want to consider a part time position as an EMT somewhere to start building your EMT time. You should concentrate on school as much as possible, with the EMT time second, (only if you are in that kind of financial position).

Just remember, typically, you are looking at 1-2 years of Fire Science, a 4-5 month basic fire academy, and then YEARS of testing. During that testing time you may want to consider a position as a reserve somewhere and getting enough EMT experience to go to PM school (only if you are interested).

Your volunteer time is a good start, but that no way prepares you for a BFA....

I am going to apply for PM school through El Camino College and recently applied for Oxnard College Regional Fire Academy.I am still searching for any fire academies coming up that I can apply for. And I'm going to check into reserve programs asap.

I think we're kind of in the same boat. Working in LA would be a dream, but I think that testing at other departments are imprtant too. With regards to fire academies, I don't have any fire tech courses under my belt either. Palomar's fire academy in San Diego County is accepting applications until July 1st...the only prereq's needed are a valid CDL, EMT, and an english course. All the other academies require a couple of fire tech classes. Well, I hope this has helped you out a bit...see ya in Fresno on May 12th for the qualifying run...


I have Intro to Fire Technology through my local community college but that is the only fire tech class I have. They have a conference coming up in LA from June 4th-8th through FDIC-West which I am going to attend and I am starting to prepare for an oral interview with LA City Fire. I also got the qualifying run in Fresno coming up and the written to follow so it looks like both of us are going to be very busy. I look at like it is the perfect opportunity to network and meet different depts even though I may not get hired by them. LA City would be the dream job of a lifetime but yeah I am keeping my options open. Hope this feedback helps in any way. Scott

You both sound very enthusiastic and that is great.

You both should know though, that the GREATER percentage of unsuccessful fire academy recruits going through a department's academy did NOT have any training or experience prior to their hiring.

Sure they might have had a great oral interview, and can pass a physical agility, but they had NO IDEA what was in store for them at the academy.

Have you guys done any research on LA or Fresno? Ever visited a station, done a ride-along, gone and visited the training tower and observed an academy in action?

Ever thrown a 35' ladder? Tied off an axe to take away to a third story? Ever done a forward hose lay? Used a chain saw on a roof prop? What do you know about building construction?

I just want to make sure you guys know what you are doing. It is great you want to take all these tests and stuff like that, but you have NO EDUCATION! NO TRAINING! Nothing. One fire class?

You guys need to slow down a bit and start to work on your education first. You are setting yourself up for massive failure right now. Get at least an idea of what the job is about.

What do you know about the job right now? NOTHING!

It took me years to complete my training and education prior to getting hired. At my department, everyone has the same story. No one just waltzes into a fire department and becomes a firefighter without sacrificing and doing your time and training like everyone else. And all of this starts PRIOR to your hiring and tower and probation!!!!!

By the way I was an EMT for a few YEARS before even thinking I was ready for PM school.......

Please take FF/PM1's advice to heart - and mind.

While the casual observer might consider his advice to somehow be a "speed-bump" in your highway to success, his sage advice is offered in the purest manner of helpfulness. You need every advantage, not only to obtain the academy spot, but to clearly excel in every aspect of what will become your life's work.

Clinics and cemeteries are full of men and women who approached this job with gusto - but who failed to plan or train as if their life depended on it.

Hint... it does!

If you have yet to do so, please visit this website:


There, you'll find some outstanding information and inspiration. Use what you learn there (especially in the monthly newsletters) as key elements in your recipe for success.

"A full time career requires your full time commitment, long before the alarm bell rings"

Best Wishes,

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