Photo: John Spink
Photo: John Spink

Are you tough enough to become an Atlanta firefighter?

Being an Atlanta firefighter is not easy, nor is it for the faint of heart. The work is tough and often emotionally and physically grueling. For those willing to take on the challenge, however, it is also rewarding and provides a chance give to the community and help others. If you think you have what it takes to join this noblest of professions, read on to find out what you need to know to get started.

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What is the application process?

The Atlanta Fire Rescue Department accepts applications twice a year - spring and fall. The Spring 2016 enrollment period ended on March 17. The Fall 2016 enrollment date has not yet been set, but should begin in either September or October. Once the enrollment period is announced, recruits will have 30 days to apply. Potential recruits can expect further information on the enrollment period once the spring class is nearing its completion.

What qualifications are needed to become an Atlanta firefighter?

According to the city of Atlanta website, the following qualifications are required:

The minimum qualifications are:
• Must be a citizen of the United States
• Must be 18 years of age or older
• Must have a high school diploma or equivalent recognized by the State of Georgia
• Must possess a valid driver's license
• Must have honorable discharge if prior military; anything other than dishonorable will be considered

On case-by-case basis
• Must not have a felony conviction
• Must not have tattoos on face or neck. Tattoos below the elbow will be considered on a case-by-case basis
• Must not have body piercing to nose, face, or more than two per ear.
• Must have an acceptable (three-year) driving history, criminal, financial and character background

Must successfully complete:
• Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT)
• Written Aptitude Test (ASSET Exam)
• Oral interview
• Psychometric written exam
• Polygraph
• Psychological interview
• Medical evaluation

Documents needed to apply include:
• High school diploma, transcript or GED certification
• Birth certificate (4) copies
• Social Security card (4) copies
• Driver's license (4) color copies
• Most recent 3-year motor vehicle report
• Name change document (marriage license, court order, etc.)
• Documentation related to any financial history involving delinquent child support
• Documentation related to any bankruptcy filed indicating dismissal
• DD214 (if prior military, honorable discharge)

How many students does the class typically have?

Sgt. Cortez Stafford, the public relations officer for the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, says that there are typically up to 70 students in each training class. Training is divided into two separate parts that consist of both Emergency Medical Service (EMS) training and firefighting training. Half of the class (about 35 students) will take the EMS training first and the other 35 students will take the firefighting classes first. The groups then switch midway. It generally takes about eight months for students to fully finish the courses.

Is there a high number of dropouts?

Interestingly, despite the strenuous training process for Atlanta firefighters, Stafford says the number of dropouts is quite low with about 90 percent of recruits graduating. Training is intentionally intense, because lives are on the line when Atlanta's firefighters are out in the field.

"This prepares recruits for what's to come, since they have already seen how tough it can be during their training," he says.

How many job openings for Atlanta firefighters are currently available?

The Atlanta Fire Rescue Department is actively looking to hire between 72 to 100 firefighters by the end of the year.

What is the starting salary for an Atlanta firefighter?

The annual median salary for Atlanta firefighters is $35,500 as of June 20, 2016.

What is the most important thing to know for those interested in becoming Atlanta firefighters?

If you are interested in becoming an Atlanta firefighter, you have to remain motivated and stay on top of the position. In other words, keep checking back to see if you need to submit or do anything else to help your application. Make sure you meet all the requirements. Stafford suggests that potential recruits workout and get in shape. It's competitive. Although recruits aren't penalized and kept from training if they are not in perfect shape when they first start, there are physical requirements they must pass before they are allowed to graduate.

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