Montana State University


Here is a list of our academies offered. Click the title to take you to the respective page for more info and to apply.








Certification Test Booklets

Firefighter I
Firefighter II

Instructor I
Instructor II
Instructor III

Is a Career in Firefighting right for you?

If you are looking for a vital and challenging career, you’re on the right track. Firefighting is demanding work, with built-in-job security and terrific intrinsic rewards. Firefighters are America’s greatest living heroes. They protect the lives and properties of their neighbors. They perform daring rescues and extinguish raging infernos, but firefighters also protect people in many other ways. Firefighters play an important role in education and public awareness of fire safety. All this in addition to putting out house fires!
On any given day a fire department may be called upon for:
Airplane crashes, Animal rescues, Bomb threats, Brush fires, Car fires, Childbirth, Elevator rescues, Floods, Gas leaks, Hazardous material spills, Water and ice rescues, Vehicle fires, Structure fires, Vehicle Accidents, And more!

My advice is to do the following:

Priority # 1 items
• Stay out of trouble with the law, don’t smoke or chew, and don’t ever use illegal drugs
• Get in, and stay in, top physical condition (I hear from a lot of folks who thought they were in great physical condition…until they were tested!)
• Finish high school, and start college.
• Apply for and take the Consortium testing process every time (practice helps).
- (This is a group testing effort by Montana’s largest municipal fire departments. It consist of both physical agility (C-Pat) and aptitude test and is conducted annually. Call 406-771-1180 and ask for Personnel for details, or see our news letter. Not all departments use this process, but about 47% of those hired come through this testing process) The deadline for applications is normally February or early March.

Priority # 2 items
• Join a volunteer fire department and actively participate (learn as much as you can). 80% of fire fighters hired were volunteer fire fighters first!
• Take all the fire & ems related training you can get
• Get a Fire Fighter 1 Professional Certification (available from FSTS a few times per year)Check our home page for applications and schedule.
• Get a college degree of some kind.
• Get an EMT certification and get on, and stay on, the National Registry
• No matter how many credentials you get, remember just how much there is that you still have to learn. Act like it!

Priority 3 items
If you can accomplish these items in addition to the above, you will be an exceptional candidate
• Get a fire related degree (a better credential!)
• Get and maintain a Paramedic certification (a better credential!)
• Maintain superior physical conditioning
• Get a Bachelors degree of some kind (a better credential!)
• Get a fire fighter 2 certification (a better credential!)

I recommend that you interview and compete every chance you get, with a goal of getting better at the process each time. Ask for feedback from every source available on your performance.


Volunteer Firefighter Requirements:

A volunteer department is an excellent training ground for aspiring firefighters. It’s a prime opportunity to get acquainted with the fire service and gain some valuable training and experience. In addition to volunteering to become a firefighter in your community, remember that opportunities also exist to volunteer at your place of work. They can provide you with vital “hands on” experience that will be an excellent stepping stone into your fire service career. Volunteer fire departments are generally found in rural communities, although you may occasionally find a growing community with a large, very committed group of volunteers.

To qualify for the position of volunteer firefighter, an individual must:
• Meet residence requirements, if they exist.
• Meet the active membership requirements or bylaws of the entity or organization.
• Successfully complete required probation and training requirements.

Volunteer Fire Departments Provide:
• Company – and state-sponsored training.
• Social/organizational benefits.
• Retirement incentives in some departments.
• (Most FSTS courses are discounted for volunteer fire fighters!)

On-the-Job Training
Ask any employed firefighter and he or she might tell you that the training never stops! On-the-job firefighter training varies by department and city and state. Most fire departments train their own recruits in 2 week to 5-month programs. Training may take place at the station, at a fire academy, or on-site-in classes or in simulation exercises. Subjects may include:
• Level I and II Firefighter credentials
• HazMat (hazardous materials)
•Fire department history
•Medical response, EMT, or paramedic qualification
•Leadership and stress-control classes
•Training drills
•General administration and computers
•Physical fitness

The probationary period for a firefighter recruit is usually 6 months to one year. Of course, working firefighters continue to train-called in-service training-to learn about upgraded equipment and new techniques. In addition, regular testing and evaluations are common.

Continued Education

Many firefighters choose to continue their education-for the opportunity of promotion and for the challenge. Continued education may include certification or degrees (Associate, Bachelor's, or Master's) in such fields as
EMS-Emergency Medical Services Para-medicine (MSU - Great Falls)
• Fire Science
• Fire / Rescue Technology Fire Protection Engineering
• Fire Administration
• Fire Protection Technology
• Academic Fire Science Programs

Several colleges offer two year fire related degree programs in Montana.:
• Fire Rescue Technology is offered at MSU / Great Falls (outreach/non-resident)
• Fire Technology is offered at COT-Helena (Resident)
• MSU Billings - Resident Program

25 Reasons To Not Hire You As A Firefighter

Firehouse.Com Contributor

Getting hired as a firefighter is an extremely competitive process. Successfully completing all phases of the hiring process and getting the badge is a feat to be proud of. I would venture that on the average, less than 5% of the candidates applying for a firefighter position with a department are likely to get a badge once the process is said and done. Because the process is so competitive and challenging, a person competing to become a firefighter needs to be aware of some of the reasons that can eliminate them from the hiring process, particularly in the oral interview phase.

I also want to stress right away that while the title of this article might sound negative, it is not meant to come across as negative. The intent of this article is to have you open your eyes to reality and learn from the mistakes that others have made.

Note that these reasons can vary from department to department; some departments are very lenient in what they consider to be enough to disqualify a candidate and some departments are very strict in what they consider to be enough to disqualify a candidate from becoming a firefighter.

25 reasons to not hire you as a firefighter:
1. You arrive late to any phase of the hiring phase, or you do not show up to any phase of the hiring process.
2. Poor listening skills
3. Inability to express self clearly or completely; poor voice control; poor grammar or language skills
4. Poor scholastic record
5. Lack of planning for your career; you have no purpose and/or goals
6. Overemphasis on money; interest only in the best wage or benefit package
7. Poor driving history (accidents, tickets, etc.)
8. You want the position only for a short time; you have no interest in the department or the industry
9. Poor oral communication skills
10. Poor written communication skills
11. Poor personal appearance or presentation
12. Lack of maturity
13. Arrest or conviction record
14. Excessive alcohol or drug usage history
15. Lack of confidence and poise; nervous; ill at ease
16. Lack of interest and enthusiasm; passive; indifferent
17. Inability to properly provide all of the required information (certificates, transcripts, etc.)
18. Failure to keep up required certificates or licenses
19. History of inability to get along well with others
20. History of making poor judgments and/or decisions
21. Poor track record with your former and/or present employer(s)
22. You do not appear that you would fit into "the culture of the organization"
23. Failure to follow directions
24. Poor physical conditioning
25. Last but not least, you failed to make a proper first impression!

Many (if not all) of the above reasons are also grounds for termination during probation. Getting terminated during probation severely decreases your chances at ever getting hired by another fire department in the future.

Remember that nobody is perfect. The reason why I am providing this information to you is because I don't want you to lose the shot at becoming a firefighter. Every person reading this article has probably done or possesses one or more of the above reasons. The key is to recognize that these reasons can eliminate you from the process and to work on any weaknesses you may possess so you never find yourself in the same position others have been in!

Most fire departments will never tell you why you were eliminated from the hiring process, unless it was totally obvious: you didn't score high enough on the written examination, you did not meet the time standard for the physical ability test, you didn't score high enough on the oral interview, etc. Departments will usually not tell you why you failed the background investigation (or probation for that matter) because it then opens them up to liability and lawsuits. With everyone so sue happy these days, you can't blame a department for trying to protect itself. The obvious problem for the candidate that was eliminated from the process was that they will never know why they were not suitable for employment. How can you improve, change, or defend something if you don't even know what it is you're trying to focus on?

Our destiny is provided thanks to the choices we make (good or bad) in life. One dumb mistake or poor choice can cost you a shot at the best career in the world. Turn those negatives into positives and increase your chances of becoming a firefighter!