When you are starting a new career like becoming a firefighter, it is important to know what will be required of you. This includes knowing what is required when you are first applying for the new job and then also what will be required on a regular basis during your career. One requirement you need to know about is regarding being drug tested. You may wonder if you’ll be drug tested when you become a firefighter. We have the answer and all the information you need to consider for your new career.
All firefighters are required to take a drug test when initially interviewing to become a firefighter. However, the frequency that you will be drug tested will depend on the specific area that you are serving in. Some areas do require random drug testing on a regular basis for their firefighters, even up to a few times per year. The details regarding when you will be drug tested can be found in the contract you receive when first offered a position.
Reasons Why Firefighters Get Drug Tested
If you want to become a firefighter, one of the most essential steps to getting hired in most areas is passing your drug test during the interviewing process. Being drug tested is required to become a firefighter because it is essential that all firefighters are able to think and perform properly when they are on the job.
If your mental state has been changed by drugs, you would likely struggle to perform the required job responsibilities as you were fighting a fire. When you are fighting a fire, you need to be able to think and take action quickly. If you delay, you could risk the lives that you are working to save. Your fire department needs to be able to count on you and trust you to do your job correctly. If you are actively using drugs, it would be hard for them to trust you.
It is extremely dangerous to be actively using drugs as a firefighter not only because it can put other lives in danger, but it is also very dangerous for your own safety. There is a large amount of risk when you are fighting fires.
If you are altered mentally, it can cause you to react slower. This means you could potentially not see signs that a roof is about to collapse or that you’ve been in the burning house for too long. Not seeing crucial signs could result in you ending your own life, which is why using drugs is prohibited as a firefighter.
How Often Will I Be Drug Tested as a Firefighter?
Although the majority of areas will require you to pass a drug test before getting hired as a firefighter, not all areas are the same regarding how often they may drug test you once you are offered the job. The specific frequency that you will be drug tested as a firefighter will ultimately depend on the area that you are serving in.
Some areas may not drug test you after you are offered the position. However, other areas are starting to introduce regular drug testing as part of being a firefighter. Most fire departments will update your contract if the frequency changes regarding how often you are drug tested. If you are concerned regarding this, we recommend reaching out to the fire department you’ll be working at to ask them for their own specific regulations.
During the recent changes to the frequency of drug tests for firefighters, we have seen some fire departments introduce semiannual required drug tests. This means that twice a year, you would be required to take and also pass a drug test. If you don’t pass the regular drug test, then there is a high chance that you would lose your job.
This change in the frequency of drug tests for some fire departments is to help the fire departments ensure that all firefighters in their area are continuing to follow the no drug policy. By drug testing on a regular basis, fire departments would have a better idea when a firefighter may be using drugs. The specific action taken if you fail a drug test would ultimately depend on the area that you serve in. All areas will vary regarding the drug test frequency and policy after you’re hired on as a firefighter.
The easiest way to not have to worry about the frequency of being drug tested is to not use any drugs while serving as a firefighter. As we mentioned earlier, being a firefighter can be a very dangerous job and your job responsibilities do require 100% of your focus and mental ability. This is not a job that you would want to take the risk of performing while your mental state has been altered with any substance.
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Do You Get Drug Tested to Be a Volunteer Firefighter?
Some may wonder if you are still drug tested if you are volunteering to be a firefighter. Since you are not applying for a paying position, do the same drug testing processes take place? The answer is yes. Those who are volunteering as firefighters are still required to be drug tested in order to start their volunteer services. It follows the same guidelines as physical exams and background checks. Volunteer firefighters have to pass all of those requirements.
The reason why volunteer firefighters are required to pass a drug test to start their volunteer work is similar to the reason why paid firefighters are also required to pass the test. It is because the job performed by firefighters requires all of your focus and attention. Even if you are volunteering as a firefighter, it can be extremely dangerous to perform your job while your mental state has been altered.
Since you would be potentially putting lives in danger if you were to fight fires while using drugs, the majority of areas do require you to pass a drug test before they will allow you to volunteer as a firefighter. This policy is put in place for everyone’s safety.
This is the same reason why physical exams are required for volunteer firefighters. Each area wants to make sure that you are physically capable of keeping up with the job responsibilities of fighting fires. If you were not physically capable or prepared, you could put other firefighters in danger when you are fighting fires.
These policies regarding drug testing and physical exams are not put into place to be strict or make it any harder to become a firefighter. These policies are put into place to keep as many people safe as possible. They are also meant to ensure that firefighters are able to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities and save as many lives as possible.
Becoming a firefighter, whether you are paid or volunteering, is a life-changing career. Although the job does come with risk, you get to know that you are saving lives and also saving your community from dangerous fires. It may be a physically demanding job, but it is also a very emotionally rewarding job as well.
What are the qualifications to become a firefighter?
Like many other aspects of being a firefighter, the specific qualifications may also vary depending on where you live. However, most areas require that their firefighters be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma, and have a valid driver’s license. Many areas will also require that you have a clean criminal background.
Once you pass the basic qualifications, you will be required to also pass a drug test, physical exam, and other various medical exams. These qualifications are required to help ensure that you will be physically and mentally capable of performing your job responsibilities if you were offered the position as a firefighter.
How much do firefighters earn typically?
The salary that firefighters make ultimately depends on their experience, education, and the specific area that they live in. Some firefighters will make more in certain areas, depending on the amount of hiring demand for your area. For example: If finding qualified firefighters is difficult in your area and the need is high, you will typically earn more.
Generally, firefighters do start around $40,000 per year for their salary. If you have years of experience as a firefighter or a higher level of education, you will make a higher salary. You will also earn more as you advance in your career as well.
What kind of shifts are required to be a firefighter?
Most areas will require their firefighters to work long shifts. Although you will not typically be fighting fires during the entire shift, you are required to be available and typically will stay at the fire department during these shifts. The most common types of shifts for firefighters are working 24 hours on and then getting a full 48 hours off.
Another thing you want to keep in mind is some areas may require you to be on call as a firefighter too, depending on the need. Firefighters also work holidays at times as well. Communities need protection from fires 24/7, which is why firefighters are required to work all days of the year and be available on call at times.
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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.