OFD Employment and Job Requirements
The public sometimes has the misguided perception that being a firefighter is an easy job - especially in communities outside of the major urban areas where there are no daily house / business fires and such to handle. And because folks "can't imagine" what a firefighter could possibly do with all of that "free time" between fires in the area (because many don't understand that our firefighters do so much more on the job than just wait around for house or business fires) they assume they do little more than sit around the fire station, playing cards or lounging around and watching TV and "having a good ol' time."
Nothing could be farther from the truth! The truth is, not everyone could make it as a firefighter. They couldn't handle the physical training, pass the exams or master the variety of skills one must in order to become a certified firefighter.
What does it take to be a firefighter for the City of Opelika? To even be considered for employment one must
- be at least 18 years of age, have a valid drivers license
- pass a background check
- be recommended by the Opelika Fire Interview Committee
- pass or have current Candidate Physical Agility Test (CPAT)
- pass a medical exam
- pass the city's drug test requirements
- pass or meet other requirements established by the City of Opelika and/or the Opelika Fire Department.
Once all of that takes place, the candidate begins his/her training in earnest in the certification process.
The Opelika Fire Department hosts certification classes right here in Opelika because we have one of the best training facilities in the State of Alabama! In fact, our instructors not only train our own force of firefighters, they also help the State by training fire fighters from other communities in Alabama as well!
Opelika's Certification training takes a total of 500 hours (the state only requires 400) and includes the following subjects: Orientation and safety, Fire Department communications, building construction, ropes and knots, loss control, fire behavior, personal protective equipment, ladders, ventilation, forcible entry, water supply, portable extinguishers, fire hoses, rescue and extrication, sprinkler and alarm systems, fire streams and foam streams, fire control, hazardous materials, protecting evidence, and fire prevention and public education. Firefighter candidates are tested in all of these areas and must pass their exams before certification.
National Registry Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Course
In addition to the above, the National Registry Emergency Medical Technician course is taught. The training in this area includes:
- CPR training (including the use of automated external defibrillation)
- Vital signs
- Taking a patient's history
- Correct procedures in lifting and moving patients
- Basic training in diabetic emergencies
- Bleeding and shock
- General pharmacology instruction
- Other courses too numerous to mention
Once certified, these new firefighters join the proud ranks of those who, like Opelika's police officers and linemen with the light and power department, are willing to put their very lives on the line to keep the citizens and businesses of Opelika safe and secure. They learn and memorize all of the subdivisions, streets, businesses and hydrant locations in our community. They maintain fire hydrants, constantly inspect the fire hoses, learn the art of arson detection, and continually review their basic training to maintain and improve upon the skills they've learned.