What We Look For

City of Madison firefighter recruitment is conducted approximately every two years. To receive instant hiring and department updates, subscribe to our email lists. The firefighter recruitment and selection process is extensive and generally takes 9-10 months from initial application to the first round of hiring.

Two firefighters sitting in a truck. A helmet with "Firefighter Station 3" is sitting in the foreground.

Firefighter Prerequisites

In order to be considered for employment with the Madison Fire Department, at the time of application you must:

  • be a United States citizen
  • be at least 18 years of age (there is no maximum age limit)
  • be a high school graduate or possess a high school equivalency diploma
  • possess a current driver's license
  • be of sound mental and physical health

Qualities Desirable in a Firefighter

  • ability to complete a rigorous academic and physical training program
  • motivation to serve
  • effective communication skills
  • physical, mental, and emotional health
  • ability to exercise sound judgment
  • strong sense of responsibility
  • compassion (even when stressed)
  • ability to work as a team member
  • tolerance
  • honesty and integrity
  • problem-solving skills
  • strong work ethic

Physical Demands & Working Conditions

While not an all-inclusive list, the following examples are meant to illustrate some of the extreme physical demands and working conditions inherent in the role of a firefighter/EMT.

Physical Demands

The physical demands of a firefighter are characterized by strength, endurance, coordination, agility, and dexterity.

  • Pick up and advance charged fire hoses.
  • Force entry with axe/battering ram.
  • Rescue/extricate victim(s).
  • Perform CPR; apply bandages.
  • Climb stairs with equipment weighing approximately 50 pounds.
  • Strip and vent roofs, breach walls, overhaul burned buildings.
  • Lift and climb/descend ladders (with victims).
  • Visually determine fire status/hazards; assess patient conditions.
  • Hear calls for help; identify fire noise, etc.
  • Walk on roof tops under adverse conditions.
  • Operate power tools and extrication equipment, and tie knots.
  • Stoop, crawl, crouch, and kneel in confined spaces.
  • Reach, twist, balance, grapple, bend, and lift under emergency conditions.
  • Run, dodge, jump, and maneuver with equipment.
  • All of the above may be performed wearing heavy and restrictive protective clothing/gear.

Working Conditions

A firefighter must perform physically demanding work, requiring judgment, under adverse working conditions.

  • Work in extreme temperatures both day and night, in rain, snow, and ice.
  • Exposure to fumes, gases, noxious odors, dust, and poor ventilation.
  • Work in closely confined spaces.
  • Work around potential hazards: fire, explosives, chemicals, electrical shock, structural hazards, fast-moving vehicles, etc.
  • Intense exposure to water and/other liquids.
  • Exposure to blood, serious injuries, and death.
  • Exposure to a wide range of highly emotional and traumatic events.
  • Exposure to noise and vibration from tools, equipment, machinery, etc.
  • Work at heights (e.g., on ladders, roof tops, etc).
  • Work within restrictions of personal safety equipment (e.g., breathing apparatus, steel-tip boots, hearing and eye protection, firefighting turn-out clothing, and hazardous materials gear).

How to Prepare

Our firefighter application period comes around approximately once every two years. You can prepare by:

  • Taking fire and/or EMS classes at a local technical school
  • Improving your fitness
  • Volunteering
  • Getting involved in your community