Becoming a Firefighter
What are the minimum requirements?
It depends on with which division you are seeking affiliation; career, paid-on-call (POC) or volunteer. For employment as a career firefighter you must be a United States citizen at least 21 years of age at the time of hire, unless you meet certain criteria, have a high school diploma or GED and a current, valid driver’s license. In Park Forest the testing process is governed by rules promulgated by the Village’s Fire and Police Commission as dictated under Illinois Law.
For our POC or Volunteer division you must be 18 years of age, have a high school diploma or equivalent, a valid Illinois state driver’s license and complete the requisite job application. If you meet these initial requirements you will be invited to attend a mandatory orientation, after which you will be required to successfully complete the department’s physical ability test. For those who successfully complete these components, and if we are in a position to hire the candidate, a Conditional Offer of Employment will be made. Candidates will then be required to pass a police background investigation and a pre-employment physical and drug screening. Once all results are reviewed you will be notified of your employment status within two-weeks after receipt of the testing results.
How do I begin the process and what happens next?
For our career division an Eligibility List is created every two years through a competitive testing process which includes a Written Exam and Oral Interview. Applications are only available one month in advance of the testing. The local paper, the Village’s Website or our Department’s Web-site are your best sources of information on future testing.
Following testing, successful candidates will be placed on an “Eligibility List” based on their individual ranking in these two events and after additional points have been added to their raw score for credible military service or other training as provided under the law.
Eligible candidates will remain on the list for two years after which the list will sunset and be replaced by a new eligibility list. If an opening occurs, candidates will be subject to additional testing including a very thorough background investigation, medical examination, including drug screening, and physiological exam.
For the POC or Volunteer Division, simply fill out the required job application and return it to the fire station located at 156 Indianwood, Park Forest, Illinois. The application will then be kept on file until we are ready to begin the next hiring process.
If you're hired, what's next?
This too depends on a variety of factors. All candidates would be required to complete a host of mandatory training classes within specified time periods during their probationary period.
What do firefighters do?
Firefighters nowadays do much more than fight fires. Today’s Firefighters are all cross-trained as Paramedics and provide an array of services including pre-hospital medical care and transport of patients to local hospitals, rescue services including technical rescue, hazardous materials response and fire inspection and pre-planning activities to name but a few. Becoming a firefighter is a very fulfilling career with many rewards, but like most careers today it begins with a foundation in education.
Under the supervision of a Fire Lieutenant, the firefighter responds to a variety of emergent and non-emergent calls for service. He serves as a member of the response team to ensure the safety of his teammates and our citizens alike.
Firefighters may find themselves responding to structural, vehicle, grass or refuse fires, vehicular accidents, hazardous materials spills, and an array of emergency medical incidents. In a fire suppression effort they will connect and lay hose lines, select and operate an assortment of nozzles according to conditions and supervisor’s directions, to extinguish the fire or in some cases provide back-up for the attack crew.
Firefighters will perform search and rescue procedures, utilize an assortment of hand and power tools, hydraulic tools, portable saws, power generators, ropes, webbing, and similar equipment. They will also perform ventilation or entry procedures by opening up walls and other structures with the use of hand or power tools; raise, lower, and climb ladders to access buildings or rescue persons; make forcible entry and enter into burning buildings or other locations.
Most of our activity revolves around the delivery of emergency medical care to those injured or sick within our municipal boundaries according to their level of certification. The department provides two advanced life support (paramedic) ambulances for this purpose which are staffed 24/7. Additionally, an advanced life support Engine Company is available to respond depending on the daily staffing level. Firefighters are required to maintain their medical certifications throughout their career.
One of our three major underpinnings supporting the department’s mission is participation in continued education through drills, demonstrations, and courses in firefighting techniques, emergency medical care, firefighter safety, technical rescue, hazardous materials and other related areas. Because of the rigors of the job, firefighters are expected to maintain their level physical fitness and overall health.