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To become an airport firefighter, a candidate must combine basic firefighting experience with the specialized skills needed to prevent and manage airport emergencies. Most regions have specific qualifications, including certification requirements, that must be met before a person can become an airport firefighter. Candidates may also need to meet age and fitness requirements and pass a background check in order to find work in this important realm of firefighting.
In most regions, a person cannot become an airport firefighter unless he or she is already a firefighter with a military unit or regional fire department. To meet this prerequisite, candidates must attend a civilian or military firefighting academy, pass tests, and find a job with an existing firefighting unit. In preparation for airport firefighter training, regional firefighters may want to take additional classes in hazardous waste material handling and emergency medical care, since these skills may be required at an airport job.
Once a firefighter has established him or herself as a professional, additional certification may be required. Regional firefighting organizations may offer special certification courses that are tailored to match the required criteria at local airports, and may be the best option for those planning on staying in the same geographical area. In a certification course, firefighters will learn about the types of emergencies, fires, and hazards they may face as airport workers, and receive training in the methods used to prevent and manage airport fires and rescue situations. These courses may take several weeks or even months to complete, and may include classroom work and hands-on training experience.
In order to obtain a certificate, students may need to complete rigorous written and practical examinations. Written tests may include questions on applicable laws, safety procedures, and test a firefighter's problem-solving skills. In practical examinations, firefighters may need to handle simulated emergencies according to code, sometimes within a time limit. If a student cannot successfully demonstrate the skills learned in training, he or she may not be allowed to become an airport firefighter.
In addition to receiving proper training, a person may need to meet some personal criteria in order to become an airport firefighter. In many regions, firefighters cannot apply for an airport job until they are 18, even if they have already been certified as a firefighter. Some airport firefighting units may have upper age limits and fitness requirements, to ensure that all firefighters are in good enough health to handle their dangerous work. Since security is a concern at airports, applicants may need to pass a criminal background check before being considered for an airport firefighting job.
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