The 5 best academies for firefighters

If you aspire to become a firefighter, you might consider these top fire academies.

By Chris Meyer, FireRescue1 Contributor


Firefighting jobs are getting more competitive every year. As an aspiring firefighter, you want to be certain you get the best possible preparation before you start applying for jobs. And depending on the area you’d like to work in, finding the best fire academies can be a tough task.

That’s why we’ve compiled this list of the five best academies for firefighters in the United States.

Before we dive into the specifications of each academy, it’s important to recognize that the market for firefighters is different than the market for a traditional job applicant. That’s because the fire departments you’re applying to may have different preferences and requirements for their prospective hires.

For example, let’s say you want to apply for firefighting jobs in Alaska. While you might find a great academy in Florida, the training you receive in Florida might not be as relevant to Alaska as training you might receive in Alaska. That’s why, if you know where you’re going to apply, you should always research specific department requirements before evaluating schools.

That said, if you’re not sure where you want to apply, it could pay to attend one of these five top fire academies.

1. OHIO FIRE ACADEMY

Ohio Fire Academy is the only academy in Ohio recognized by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress and Pro Board. The Ohio Fire Academy also offers online training for individual firefighters and departments to further their education.

Requirements to enroll

  • Students must meet all requirements outlined by OAC4765-20-02.
  • Take and pass the COMPASS Test or have taken a COMPASS Test within the last two years. Previous SAT or ACT scores or a college degree may be eligible to be used as a substitute for taking COMPASS.
  • High school diploma or equivalent.
  • Submit FBI/BCI background checks.
  • Students must undergo a medical evaluation by a physician that meets the requirements of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1582 Standard on Medical Requirements for Firefighters, 2013 Edition.
  • Valid driver’s license.
  • Proof of medical insurance.
  • Complete National Incident Management System NIMS IS-100.b and NIMS IS-700.

Cost

$1550 (not including dorm and gear fees). Students are responsible for providing turnout gear and course textbooks. Self-contained breathing apparatuses are available for rent.

Length of program

360 hours, 40 days. Runs weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with multiple evening sessions scheduled.

2. CORAL SPRINGS REGIONAL INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC SAFETY

Coral Springs offers everything you need to become a candidate for a firefighter position in Florida. They offer state certifications in Firefighter I & II, EMT, and Paramedic. They offer three different academy schedules.

Requirements to enroll

  • Pass Physical Ability Test (PAT)—mandatory entry requirement, not a part of Firefighter I & II registration.
  • Paramedic or EMT license, or Certificate of Completion for EMT.
  • Passport-sized photo.
  • FCDICE (instructions).
  • Social Security Number.
  • Medical Exam.
  • Tobacco Affidavit.
  • Florida Driver’s License.
  • Diploma (High School, College, Transcript or GED).
  • Student Enrollment Agreement.
  • Release and Waiver.
  • Background Check.
  • Complete ICS-100 and ICS-700 (Free courses).

Cost

$2520 for tuition and registration, 450 hours of training.

Length of programs (approximate)

  • Full Time: 13 weeks, 5 days/week Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (sometimes longer).
  • Part Time: 29 weeks, Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 pm and Sat. 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Part-Time Accelerated: 21 weeks, Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

3. BROWARD FIRE ACADEMY

Broward Fire Academy in South Florida offers Firefighter I and II programs. The program meets the requirements of the Bureau of Fire Standards for firefighters. They offer both night and day classes.

Requirements to enroll

  • Must be at least 18 years old, earned a high school diploma from a regionally accredited institution (or equivalent).
  • Take and pass the TABE (if applicable).
  • Have a current BLS Healthcare Provider (CPR & AED) card.
  • Must have completed EMT.
  • Must have a current BFA physical agility test on file.

Cost

  • Day Class: $2129*
  • Night Class: $2149*

Students are required to purchase books, uniforms, and supplies including bunker gear, boots, hood, helmet, and gloves.

*In-state tuition. Out-of-state tuition is slightly higher. To receive resident tuition, your legal residence must be issued or filed 12 months before the first day of classes.

Length of program and course schedule

398-hour course offered as full-time and part-time.

Full-time schedule is Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and takes approximately 3 months. Part-time is Tuesday and Thursday 5:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Saturday 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and takes approximately 6 months.

4. TEEX ALSO KNOWN AS BRAYTON FIRE ACADEMY

An extension of Texas A&M, TEEX offers a 12-week traditional academy program and an online academy with a 21-day boot camp onsite at Brayton Fire Training Field. After finishing the course, cadets are eligible for IFSAC and Pro Board certifications in Firefighter I and II. Their programs meet or exceed most state requirements. TEEX does not offer housing.

Requirements to enroll

  • Must be 18 years of age or older.
  • High school diploma or GED certificate.
  • Valid motor vehicle driver’s license without pending actions of suspension or revocation.
  • Physical and Proof of Meningitis vaccination within last five years.
  • 2×2 color photo of yourself.
  • International students must submit a color copy of their passport along with a signed and notarized affidavit of responsibility.

Cost

Traditional Academy and Online Academy both cost $5400.

Length of program and course schedule

500 hours

The traditional Academy is a 12-week program held at Brayton Fire Training Field. The online academy allows scheduling flexibility through online training followed by a 21-day boot camp at Brayton Fire Training Field.

5. SEMINOLE STATE COLLEGE FIRE ACADEMY

More than 90 percent of Seminole State fire science students have achieved certification on the first attempt at the state exam. A course grade of 80 percent is required to successfully complete the class and receive Firefighter I and II certification in the State of Florida.

Requirements to enroll

  • Complete or be enrolled in a State of Florida EMT program or EMT/Fire combined program. Successfully complete EMT program prior to the start of the Fire Academy term.
  • Attend a mandatory information session.
  • Submit application (obtained at info session).
  • Attend mandatory orientation session, held two to three weeks after application deadline.
  • More information provided at info sessions.

Cost

$3000, includes course fees, textbooks, supplies, bunker gear rental, a physical exam, and state of Florida bureau of fire standards and training fees.

Length of program and class schedules

  • 450 hours, 22 weeks.
  • Day Classes: Monday and Wednesday 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Night Classes: Monday – Thursday 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

ADVANCED EDUCATION OPTIONS

The National Fire Academy wasn’t included in this list because it’s not a traditional fire academy in the sense that it only offers advanced education. That said, for mid to senior-level firefighters, the National Fire Academy is a great resource for further learning that offers classes all over the country and online. The FireRescue1 Academy is also a great resource for NFPA-based training and CAPCE accredited EMS courses.

You give yourself the best chance of success by attending a fire academy in the location you plan to apply. However, this list of top schools should at least give you an indication of what features and course offerings to look for in a fire academy closer to your desired work area.