Can Firefighters Transfer Between Cities and States? (2022)

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What happens if a firefighter wants to move and work for a different city department or even move out of state? Is there a process to transfer to another fire department or do you have to apply as a new firefighter like everyone else?

Firefighters can transfer between cities and even states, however, the process to do so will be different depending on the city or state. Certain departments and areas will accept training and experience from other cities or states, but some do not. This means you may have to repeat some training when you transfer.

The process for firefighters to move from one department to another is, unfortunately, not straightforward. While you can definitely go work for a different fire department, it may not be as easy as you might expect. Lets take a look at what the process can look like.

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Also read: How to Become a Firefighter: The Complete Guide

Table of Contents

  • Can Firefighters Transfer City to City?
  • What Does Lateral Firefighter Mean?
  • Can Firefighters Switch States?
  • How Do I Become a Firefighter in Another State?
  • What States Accept Proboard Certification?
  • Conclusion
  • Related Articles
(Video) CHP officer handcuffs Chula Vista Firefighter caught on camera by CBS 8

Can Firefighters Transfer City to City?

Life is always changing. Maybe you got hired at the first fire department that offered you a job and now, after some years on the job, you want to move back to your hometown. Whatever the cause, moving as a firefighter can be tricky.

The process for a career firefighter to transfer and work for a different fire department can be challenging, depending on the area, but it very well may be worth it.

The majority of fire departments will look at your experience and credentials highly, but they will still require you to take the same entry-level firefighter test and go through their basic firefighter academy and probationary period once hired.

Transfer between cities is usually less confusing than moving out of state. This is because most training and certifications you receive will be recognized and honored throughout the state, though there are exceptions.

Some departments (usually smaller ones) will see your training and certs and they may not require you to go through an entire academy. They may instead put you through a short 2-3 week, in-house mini-academy, where you will learn the specifics of that department. This is to make sure that you learn how to be a firefighter that department’s way.

There is sometimes a formal process for experienced firefighters to transfer between cities, but it doesn’t seem to be common. Some fire departments will post jobs specifically for experienced firefighters, rather than entry-level. This is usually called a lateral transfer or lateral firefighter job opening.

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What Does Lateral Firefighter Mean?

A lateral firefighter is a firefighter who transfers between different fire departments or cities, usually only within the same state. This may allow you to skip some of the hiring and training steps as a firefighter with the new department.

This process usually only occurs when there is a job posting that specifically is looking for lateral firefighters. The job will usually specify that you need to have a certain number of years of experience to apply. They will also require you to have certain certifications.

Its not often that you see these types of job postings, but they do come up. There may even be openings for lateral driver/engineers or captains to transfer departments.

Can Firefighters Switch States?

Firefighters can switch from working in one state to working in another, however, the process to do so is not always simple.

Moving states is usually more complicated than moving cities. The main reason for this is the training and standards. The requirements to be a firefighter can be quite different from one state to the next.

Part of this is due to the different areas that each department protects. Firefighting in the snow can be a totally different animal than firefighting in very high temperatures. Many other differences require that each department trains and equips their firefighters to deal with the types of incidents and conditions that they encounter in that area. This is why the training may be different.

The other reason is just the certifying agency. Each state sets its own standards and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of communication between states as to what each type of training entails. For this reason, a firefighter certification may not be accepted from a different state, as they don’t know exactly what the training was like or if it meets their standards.

This can make transferring between states a challenge. Even with years of experience, you may not qualify for even an entry-level firefighter job. You may be required to take classes or academies over again in the new state, in order to meet their standards. This isn’t always the case, as some states will recognize training from other states.

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There have been attempts to simplify and standardize this process, but they are far from perfect. There are two agencies that have come up with systems to accredit and standardize firefighter training.

The Proboard International Accreditation for Fire Service Organizations is one of these agencies. They accredit agencies as meeting a certain standard for training. If you get trained through an organization that has Proboard certification, your certifications will be accepted by other agencies that are a part of the Proboard system. This can make the transfer between states easier.

Here is a video that talks more about the Proboard certification:

The IFSAC is another organization that works in much of the same way. Having your certifications through the IFSAC can allow them to be transferred and recognized in some other states. Here is a PDF that shows all the IFSAC certified agencies.

How Do I Become a Firefighter in Another State?

For a current firefighter to become a firefighter in another state, they must apply for open positions like everyone else. They will need to be sure they meet the requirements of that state, as they may be different. Their experience will usually be seen as an asset to getting a new job.

There is not usually a lateral transfer process for firefighters that are moving to a different state. This means that they will have to take the same firefighter exams as others, when there are open positions.

As we discussed above, certifications and training is not always honored from one state to the next. You will need to contact each agency you want to work for and determine if meet the requirements or if you will need to retake some of your training in the state.

(Video) Firefighter catches fire while battling a structure fire in Sherman Oaks, California. (Not injured).

Your EMT or Paramedic license will also need to transfer between states. Luckily, there is a more efficient way to do this. Getting your National Registry or NREMT shows that you meet all the standards and can apply to be an EMT in any state. Click here to go to their site and find out how to get your NREMT.

This also means you should be prepared to go through a basic fire academy, probation period, as well as losing all your department seniority, as you will be starting back at the bottom again.

Here is another resource to prepare you to take firefighter tests in different states: Firefighter Exams in Other States

What States Accept Proboard Certification?

The states that accept Proboard certification are listed below, however, not every agency in the state will accept or participate in the Proboard program.

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

Click here for more info about the participating agencies in each state.


Transferring from one department to another as a firefighter is not always a simple task, especially if you want to switch to a department out of state. However, people do it all the time. Just make sure you know the hoops you will have to jump through.

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What is the best state to work as a firefighter? ›

Indiana is the best state in the country for firefighter/paramedic jobs, and Connecticut has the second-highest median salary in the country. Indiana is the best state for jobs for firefighter/paramedics, and Virginia is the worst. The most common pay in Indiana is $58,135, while the median pay in Virginia is $45,940.

Are firefighters local state or federal? ›

A federal agency hires a federal firefighter, while a municipal firefighter works for a city, county, or state. Government-controlled positions have regulated salaries throughout the country while municipal wages vary depending on the demand, cost of living, and other locally related aspects.

Which state firefighters make the most? ›

Geographic profile for Firefighters:
StateEmployment (1)Annual mean wage (2)
New Jersey5,960$ 84,930
California27,730$ 80,990
Washington7,740$ 76,280
New York10,640$ 72,670
1 more row
31 Mar 2022

What is the most common jurisdiction for fire departments? ›

Municipalities are the most common jurisdiction for fire departments. Whether career, volunteer, or combination, this type of organization operates under the authority of the local government, and receives funding and oversight from that body.

What is the busiest fire department in the US? ›

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - A Nashville fire station was named the busiest in the country by Firehouse Magazine.

What is the best city to be a firefighter? ›

Best-Paying Cities for Firefighters

The metropolitan areas that pay the highest salary in the firefighter profession are San Jose, San Francisco, Vallejo, Los Angeles, and Oxnard.

What is the biggest fire department in the world? ›

The Tokyo Fire Department (TFD) (Japanese: 東京消防庁, Tokyo Shōbōchō) is a fire department headquartered in Ōtemachi, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan. The TFD was formed on March 7, 1948, and is responsible for protecting the Tokyo Metropolis Area. The Fire Department is the largest urban fire department in the world.

What is the highest rank in fire department? ›

The Fire Chief is the highest ranking position that you can achieve in a fire department. However, in most cities and municipalities, the Fire Chief answers to the city manager or mayor.

Why do firefighters not pay Social Security? ›

Firefighters do not receive Social Security

Their retirement system is their only source of retirement income. Their employers - the cities and counties - do not pay the 6.25% payroll tax for Social Security, and this payroll cost savings is instead invested in a traditional defined-benefit retirement plan.

What is the highest paying occupation? ›

Highest Paying Occupations
General internal medicine physiciansThis wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year
Family medicine physiciansThis wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year
Emergency medicine physiciansThis wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year
17 more rows

Is firefighting a good career? ›

Firefighting is a rewarding career that offers a very high level of job satisfaction. Being a firefighter is a great job if you enjoy helping people and serving your community, but be aware that it can be demanding, stressful, and even dangerous at times.

Which country has the best firefighter? ›

Italy's firefighters crowned the best in the world.

What is the oldest fire department in the US? ›

Cincinnati Fire Department: First In The Nation. On April 1, 1853, Cincinnati, Ohio, established the first professional and fully paid fire department in the United States.

How do firefighters greet each other? ›

Introduce yourself to everyone you meet

Greet everyone you see with a handshake and greeting: "Hi, I am Firefighter Smith, nice to meet you." Being new, it is imperative that you meet everyone as soon as possible, because you rely on them for everything.

How much does a US firefighter earn? ›

Firefighter Salaries
Job TitleSalary
FDNY Firefighter salaries - 61 salaries reportedUS$92,647/yr
US Air Force Firefighter salaries - 56 salaries reportedUS$38,455/yr
US Army Firefighter salaries - 50 salaries reportedUS$4,154/mo
CAL Fire Firefighter salaries - 22 salaries reportedUS$58,322/yr
16 more rows

What is top pay for FDNY? ›

Benefits and Salary

Starting salary for a Firefighter is $45,196. But with overtime and holiday pay, which is often required, you can get additional compensation. After five years, a Firefighter can make more than $100,000, including overtime and holiday pay.

What is a 10 60 FDNY? ›

10-60 Major emergency (Bldg. collapse, train wreck, non-airport plane crash, etc.)

Do fire chiefs go out on calls? ›

The chief of a small volunteer fire department is likely to be the main incident commander for the majority of their call-outs and is nearly always a volunteer as well. However, the chief of a large fire department is employed in a mostly administrative role, and will only be called out to the largest incidents.

What cities hire the most firefighters? ›

Top 50 Cities for Firefighters
RankCityTotal Jobs
1Amarillo, TX470
2Pueblo, CO250
3Leominster, MA320
4Waco, TX300
6 more rows
1 Oct 2021

How is math used in firefighting? ›

Firefighters need to use mental math when choosing how to attack a fire safely and avoid damaging the integrity of a building. Our degree program also trains firefighters to use a method called the Fire Flow Formula to determine how much water they will require to suppress a fire.

What are the biggest fire departments in the US? ›

T he Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) is the largest Fire Department in the United States and universally is recognized as the world's busiest and most highly skilled emergency response agency.

Why is FDNY not NYFD? ›

Among other provisions, it wiped out the Metropolitan Fire District, established a new Boardof Fire Commissioners and the Metropolitan Fire Department became the "Fire Department ofthe City of New York". This act, indirectly, was responsible for the "F.D.N.Y." logo on apparatus instead of "N.Y.F.D.".

What city has the busiest fire department? ›

Busiest Departments by Total Calls
Department NameTotal CallsTotal Fire Calls
New York, NY2,200,00040,783
Chicago, IL851,769223,323
Los Angeles City, CA499,16784,792
Baltimore City, MD347,170163,874
21 more rows

What city in the US has the most fires? ›

According to The Hartford Home Fire Index, the top five cities are: Detroit, Michigan; Shreveport, Louisiana; Boston, Massachusetts; Flint, Michigan and Richmond, Virginia.

What does a blue fire helmet mean? ›

Lieutenants have yellow helmets; captains have yellow with a red stripe, deputy group officers and above have red helmets while paid staff have a blue stripe on their helmet.

Are firefighters respected? ›

Firefighters in America are widely respected, with over 80% of Americans considering firefighting to be a prestigious occupation, in 2018.

What is the lowest rank of a firefighter? ›

probationary firefighters

Why do firefighters retire so early? ›

The fire service requires a high level of physical exertion and takes a serious toll on a worker's physical abilities. As a result, many employers require fire fighters to retire as early as age 50, leaving workers burdened with securing expensive health insurance.

What is the average life expectancy of a firefighter? ›

LIFESPAN: Research has shown the life span of firefighters is on average, 10-15 years less than non-firefighters. HEART PROBLEMS: A major reason for deaths among firefighters is heart associated problems, thus, keeping a healthy lifestyle and healthy diet along with regular medical checks are a vital strategy.

What age do firefighters usually retire? ›

Firefighters usually are eligible to retire with pension benefits between 50 and 57 years old. Some may be forced to retire sooner due to injuries and others may choose to work longer, depending on health, the age they were first hired, and the type of pension they are entitled to.

Is $25 an hour good? ›

Is 25 dollars an hour good pay? Yes, making $25 per hour is a good way to start off your career, knowing full well that the majority of Americans make just $10 to $20 per hour. Nevertheless, keep in mind that the more money you make, the more taxes you'll have to pay.

What jobs do the top 1% have? ›

The top 1% of earners, then, make almost nine times the median income in the U.S. The people who earn enough to meet this threshold work in a range of industries and include doctors, lawyers, business owners and executives—but this also varies regionally.

What job makes 300k a year? ›

Doctors, software engineers and attorneys are just some of the professionals that fit into jobs paying over 300k.

Are firemen happy? ›

Firefighters are one of the happiest careers in the United States. At CareerExplorer, we conduct an ongoing survey with millions of people and ask them how satisfied they are with their careers. As it turns out, firefighters rate their career happiness 3.8 out of 5 stars which puts them in the top 16% of careers.

What is the hardest part of being a firefighter? ›

Firefighters are susceptible to burns, smoke inhalation and crush injuries from collapsing structures. They can suffer from heat exhaustion, as well as long-term job-related illnesses such as asthma, persistent coughing, heart disease, cancer and lung damage.

What are the disadvantages of being a firefighter? ›

The cons of being a firefighter
  • Constant training. Firefighters undergo extensive and constant training throughout their careers. ...
  • Long shifts. ...
  • Dangerous job. ...
  • Mentally demanding. ...
  • Physically demanding.
29 Mar 2021

Who is the most famous firefighter? ›

Smith served for 18 years as a New York City firefighter, from 1963 to 1981, and is the most well-known advocate for firefighters in the United States.
Dennis Smith (firefighter)
Dennis Smith
BornSeptember 9, 1940 Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
DiedJanuary 21, 2022 (aged 81) Venice, Florida, U.S.
OccupationFDNY Firefighter, writer
3 more rows

Do people trust firefighters? ›

Yet firefighters remain highly respected to this day, and not only in the USA. In all corners of the world, people place a lot of trust in fire departments. And this positive image also applies to other caring professions.

How trusted are firefighters? ›

The annual CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll ranking of the honesty and ethics of professions reflects this respect, as firefighters rank first among people of different professions for their honesty and integrity, with 90% of Americans rating them "high" or "very high" on these characteristics.

Do firefighters live comfortably? ›

Yes, you can make a good living and live comfortably on a firefighter's salary, however, your lifestyle will vary based on the area you work and the overall cost of living.

What city has the most fires? ›

According to The Hartford Home Fire Index, the top five cities are: Detroit, Michigan; Shreveport, Louisiana; Boston, Massachusetts; Flint, Michigan and Richmond, Virginia.

Who are the best firefighters in the world? ›

The Vigili del Fuoco were named the world's best firefighters at a competition known as 'the firefighting Oscars', in recognition of their work in assisting the earthquake-hit population of central Italy.

Is it hard to become a firefighter in California? ›

California is one of the more difficult states to become a firefighter.

Do firefighters struggle financially? ›

Volunteer fire departments have long struggled with recruitment and retention, and one of the primary reasons behind their struggle for membership is the financial aspect. Financial struggles are a serious issue among volunteer firefighters.

What are the disadvantages of being a firefighter? ›

The cons of being a firefighter
  • Constant training. Firefighters undergo extensive and constant training throughout their careers. ...
  • Long shifts. ...
  • Dangerous job. ...
  • Mentally demanding. ...
  • Physically demanding.
29 Mar 2021

Can firefighters sleep on shift? ›

On a 24-hour shift, a firefighter may get to “sleep” at some point during the night. But this is “sleep” in name only, as at any time they may be awakened suddenly and abruptly by a bunkroom light and some form of a bell indicating there is an alarm.

What was the worst city fire in history? ›

1945 – Hildesheim, 1,500 killed. 1945 – Tokyo, causing the largest urban conflagration in history, with over 100,000 killed.

What was the worst fire in U.S. history? ›

The Great Fires of 1871 (Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin)

The worst of all was perhaps the Great Peshtigo Fire, which ravaged the Wisconsin countryside and killed more than 1,500—making it the deadliest forest fire in U.S. history.

What was the worst fire in history? ›

Peshtigo Fire

The Peshtigo Fire of 1871 was the deadliest wildfire in recorded human history. The fire occurred on October 8, 1871, on a day when the entirety of the Great Lake region of the United States was affected by a huge conflagration that spread throughout the U.S. states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois.

How respected are firefighters? ›

Yet firefighters remain highly respected to this day, and not only in the USA. In all corners of the world, people place a lot of trust in fire departments. And this positive image also applies to other caring professions.

Is firefighter a respected job? ›

It has been said that firefighters have the best job in the world. Theirs is a profession that is exciting, rewarding, and secure. It also provides excellent pay, benefits, and promotional opportunities. Firefighters are also highly esteemed members of their communities.

Which celebrity is a former firefighter? ›

In 1980 Steve Buscemi became a New York City Firefighter. For four years, Buscemi served on one of FDNY's busiest, Engine Co. 55 in Manhattan's Little Italy. He later left the fire service to become a successful actor, writer and director.

What is the cut off age for firefighter in California? ›

AGE: You must be at least 18 years old to apply (no maximum age). EDUCATION: Graduation from high school OR passage of the California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE) or General Education Development (GED) examination.

How long is Cal Fire Academy? ›

This rigorous 219 hours of training is specifically for those seeking a seasonal firefighter job with CAL FIRE. The new 6-week format will include additional certifications, including SFT Low Angle Rope Rescue Operations (LARRO), NWCG Firefighter Type 1 S-131, Portable Pumps and Water Use S-211.

How often do firefighters recruit? ›

Most fire services take on new recruits once every 12 months, so you'll need to find out when they are recruiting next.


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