How To Become A Firefighter In SA

How To Become A Firefighter In SA

How Do I Become A Firefighter?

Are you wondering how to become a firefighter in SA? When you were younger, and the teacher asked what you wanted to be when you were older, was saving lives like a firefighter your answer? Many children have this dream, but the reality of firefighting is a bit too gruesome for kids to fully understand. Firefighting is a high-risk job that requires strong physical and mental health. 


The primary job of a firefighter is mobilising in life-threatening emergencies and protecting people, the environment and properties from harmful incidents – not only fires.


Local communities work closely with their firefighters to increase fire safety awareness and prevent fire-based incidents and accidents in the first place. It is a dangerous line of work, but can also be exciting and emotionally rewarding, knowing that your career path is to serve others. 


If running into burning buildings and pulling people out of crashed cars excites you, being a firefighter is not the job for you. However, if you take commitment, bravery and passion seriously, then you might just have a spot on the team!


In the event of a fire, people can request help from the fire brigade via the iER App! The iER App is 100% FREE to download on your smart device. There are no in-app purchases or adverts. However, mobile data or internet costs may apply and you need a GPS connection.

iER uses your mobile internet connection to receive your alerts, chat with you, and update you with your alert status.


What Education Do You Need?

You don’t need any particular qualifications to become a firefighter, however, you’ll be expected to pass English and Maths tests at a GCSE Grade C level (or equivalent). Most of the requirements are centred around your physical capabilities. If you are a high schooler who wants to be a firefighter after matric, then add physical activity and sports to your list of extra murals. 


According to ZaR, there are standard requirements needed to become a firefighter, such as:

  • Being 18 years or older.
  • Having a Matric (preferably with Mathematics and Physical Science).
  • Acquiring a driving licence – code 10 with PrDP.
  • Completing a 2.4km run in under 11 minutes (males) or 12 minutes (females).
  • Completing 15 bench press repetitions of 25kg.
  • Completing 30 sit-ups in 60 seconds.
  • Carrying another person of equal body weight a distance of 100 metres.
  • Passing a vertigo test (ladder climb of five floors).
  • Claustrophobia test.


What Is The Salary?


The average firefighter salary in South Africa is R1 598 892 per year or R820 per hour as per Entry-level positions start at R336 000 per year, while most experienced workers make up to R2 175 696 per year.  


How To Apply To Be A Firefighter

The general requirements are carried out over an elimination process, where an applicant can go to a group assessment. This assessment checks your physical strength and includes running and endurance tests. After this, candidates who do the physical tasks for a certain amount of time pass. 


Successful candidates are appointed as Learner Firefighters and begin the Training Programme. If you are a successful candidate, you receive a contract until you complete training.


Before you even reach the elimination process, though, aspiring firefighters can approach your local fire department or seek an application in a local newspaper. If you receive an interview, HR can take three to four weeks to give you feedback. 

Alternatively, there are firefighter learnerships available from the Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services (CTFRS). They will also be able to notify you about open applications.  


Firefighter Training

Firefighter training is part of the four-month Firefighter 1-course module, which has practical and theoretical components. The training process is a combination of real-life scenarios in a controlled environment or classroom orientated sessions. 

The 16 weeks include instilling different values, such as teamwork, discipline and perseverance. Each recruit must have a solid basis to begin a promising career in CTFRS. The academy is based in Epping, Cape Town, and shares accreditation with the LG Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) and South African Emergency Services Institute (SAESI).

External service providers offer trainees supplementary courses, including Basic Ambulance Assistant (BAA), Ambulance Emergency Assistant (AEA), Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) and Advanced Driving. More courses are added to the list as it develops. 


Characteristics Of A Firefighter

Firefighters must be passionate about helping people! Becoming a firefighter is not about the money. You must be honest and trustworthy because you enter people’s personal spaces, such as homes and businesses.  



  • Everyone knows you to be more of a problem solver, especially in stressful situations. 
  • You are serious about the job and what it entails. Your life and other people’s lives depend on you doing the job correctly. 
  • You consider yourself disciplined and have no problem taking instructions from a commanding officer. 
  • Your attitude towards life is positive and grateful.
  • You remain humble and always want to help someone if they are in need. 
  • The job requires you to be fit, so you keep to a physically strict fitness routine to keep up with your work and colleagues. 


Disadvantages Of Being a Firefighter

The job is dangerous – a high-risk, high-reward career. Every shift faces life-threatening circumstances, and you need to be able to take action to protect yourself, your team, the property and affected individuals. 

Seeing a large amount of suffering is part of being a firefighter. Unfortunately, you can’t save everyone and every building. 

As a firefighter, your working hours are long and irregular. You are always on-call and need to be reached at all times. Because of your working hours, precious moments with your family can be taken away.









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