Basic fire suppression certification - Step 1
To work in Texas as a paid fire fighter, you have to earn a Texas "basic structure fire suppression" certificate. To earn the certificate, you must:
- Finish a basic fire fighter training program.
- Show that you can perform basic fire fighting skills.
- Pass the state certification test.
- Finish your emergency medical responder training.
- Get fingerprints and pass a criminal history background check.
- Apply for your certification.
Step 1. Finish a basic fire fighter training program.
A "basic structure fire suppression training program" is a school, course or academy that teaches everything in the commission's Basic Fire Suppression Curriculum.
Texas requires a lot of training for its paid fire fighters. The Texas basic curriculum includes 468 hours of training. The curriculum covers all of the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) qualifications for:
- Fire Fighter I.
- Fire Fighter II.
- Hazardous Materials-Awareness.
- Hazardous Materials-Operations.
There are several places to get the training:
- A Texas fire department's fire academy.
- A course at a state college or private training provider.
- A Texas volunteer fire department that participates in a certification program.
- Other states or military services.
We briefly discuss each of these options below.
A Texas fire department's fire academy
Several of the state's large fire departments run their own fire academies. These academies are typically open only to the department's recruits.
Every fire department has its own hiring process. In general, hiring processes include:
- A "civil service" test.
- A physical ability test.
- A series of interviews.
- A criminal background check.
(Some departments won't accept your application unless you already have some emergency responder medical training, such as an EMT certificate.)
The competition for these jobs can be fierce. Some of the state's larger departments have several hundred applicants for each open position.
If you have your heart set on working at a specific department, learn everything you can about the department and keep an eye on our jobs page and your local want ads or job boards. In general, these departments only hire once or twice a year.
A course at a state college or a private training provider
Many of the state's paid fire departments will only hire candidates who have already have basic fire suppression training (or who already have their certification). The training is available throughout Texas.
Several state colleges and private companies teach the basic structure fire suppression course. (We keep a list of "commission-certified" basic fire suppression training facilities on this website.)
You will have to contact the facilities directly to find out the costs of their courses and how to enroll.
A Texas volunteer fire department that participates in a certification program
Becoming a volunteer fire fighter is a big commitment of time and service. With that in mind, many volunteer fire departments (VFDs) break their training into smaller "parts." This can make it easier to fit the training into a busy schedule.
Many of the state's VFDs are members of the State Firefighters' and Fire Marshals' Association (SFFMA). The SFFMA is a trade association of VFDs and "combination" departments. The SFFMA offers a certification program for its member departments. The SFFMA certification is not the same as the State of Texas certification, but if you earn the SFFMA advanced (or "Firefighter II") certification, you may qualify to take the state test.
Once you earn your SFFMA advanced (or "Firefighter II") certificate (or if you can show us training records that prove you have finished the training), the commission will allow you to take the state's basic fire suppression certification test.
Other states or military services
If you're not in Texas, your out-of-state or military fire protection training may qualify you to take the state's basic certification test. Your training has to be equal to the Texas basic course.
Many states (and other countries) are members of the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC). If you earned a fire fighting certificate in an IFSAC jurisdiction, you may be eligible for the Texas certification.
If you got your training in a non-IFSAC jurisdiction, we will have to review your training records to see if your training is equal to the Texas basic course. We charge a non-refundable fee of $75 for each records review. If we determine that your training is equal to the Texas training requirements, you will be eligible to take the Texas basic fire suppression certification test.
For more information about transferring from out of state, please see our "Transferring to Texas" page.
Have you finished your training? Go to Step 2.
Certification and professional development
A brief introduction to the commission's certification and professional development program.
The commission offers 40 certifications or certification "levels" (i.e., basic, intermediate, advanced, etc.). This chart provides links to the requirements for each certification and each level.
A form to verify a certified individual's certification status.
Overview of the requirements to become certified as an entry-level fire fighter in the State of Texas.
How to determine how many hours of continuing education are required to renew.
Information and FAQs for individual certificate holders. (Individual certificate holders are those who are not affiliated with a regulated department.)
Guidelines for transferring out-of-state or military fire protection certifications to Texas.
A-list and B-list courses for higher levels of certification.
Sources of continuing education.
Resources and links to more information about the Courage to Be Safe program.
Resources and links to more information about the required traffic safety program.