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Fire Academy FAQs

What do I need to become a Firefighter?

To be a firefighter, you will need to have graduated from high school, be at least 18 years of age and completed your Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certificate. In addition, some fire departments want the candidate to have taken several college units prior to applying for the firefighter’s exam. Others may require a Certificate of Completion of California’s Firefighter 1 or a Certificate verifying completion of a California Sate Fire Marshal’s Accredited Regional Fire Academy. Our Academy provides a Certificate verifying completion of a California Sate Fire Marshal’s Accredited Regional Fire Academy.

How do I prepare for a career in the Fire Service?

Becoming a Firefighter takes dedication, personal goals, education and training. In order to make yourself a desirable candidate for a firefighter position in a fire department, you can do a number of things.

Desirable firefighter candidates possess an education. Recruits in the ARC Basic Firefighter I Academy take part in manipulative and technical training in basic concepts of fire department organization, ropes, knots and hitches, hose and hose handling, ladder evolutions, wildland fires, fire investigation, fire prevention, salvage operations, fire department apparatus, tools and equipment, breathing apparatus, extinguishers, personal protective equipment, communications, swift water rescue, and hazardous materials. The Fire  Academy will also teach Recruits how to prepare for a career in the fire service through resume building workshops and mock oral interview panels. 

Desirable firefighter candidates are physically prepared for the demands of the job as a firefighter. At the Academy, Recruits take part in a Physical Fitness Training Program designed to educate, inspire and train the Recruit to achieve and maintain an appropriate level of health and fitness for a long and fruitful career in the fire service, and throughout their personal life.

The ARC Basic Firefighter I Fire Academy is just the first step you can take towards a career in the fire service. This program will not only prepare you physically, it will also give you the tools you need to make yourself an asset to any fire department.

Am I guaranteed a job when I graduate from the Academy?

No, you are not guaranteed a job. The ARC Basic Firefighter I is a tuition-based academy operated through the California Fire & Rescue Training Authority, in partnership with the Sacramento Fire Department and the Sacramento Regional Public Safety Training Center.

You will receive the education and training you will need to become a Firefighter 1. This process can be thought of as building your resume for the application process with fire departments. The Basic Firefighter I Academy will give you an advantage over other applicants because you will not only have the certificates needed to apply for a Firefighter position, but you will also have the hands-on fire ground training many other applicants may lack.

When is the next academy?

The application process begins approximately 3 months before the academy start date. Please continue to check the ARC Academy website for announcements about the next academy and application process.
When applications are available, they will be posted on the ARC Academy Website.

Do you provide financial assistance?

The Basic Firefighter I Fire Academy does not qualify for federal financial aid through FAFSA. However, qualified recruits may use a Board of Governor's Fee Waiver (BOG) through American River College and the Los Rios Community College District. View BOG eligibility information here to see if you qualify for a BOG fee waiver. Current ARC students may apply online by clicking here.

For more detailed information regarding the total Academy Fees, current ARC Fees, and the BOG Waiver, be sure to review all forms and documents supplied for the Academy class you are applying for.

Can Non-California residents enroll in the Academy?

Yes, the Academy accepts recruits from out-of-state. The application process remains the same, however, there are additional fees that will apply. 

According to American River College, a student must have been living in California for two (2) years continuously. If a student has not lived within the state for two (2) years, they will be responsible for paying the out-of-state fees.

Do you provide housing?

No, we do not provide housing. However, there are several opportunities for you in the area.

Upon acceptance to the Academy, contact information is taken from those recruits who need assistance finding housing.  This information is shared among those recruits, and together, recruits share rent information or even house together.

What are my "odds" of getting accepted into the academy?

The ARC Basic Firefighter I Fire Academy accepts 30-35 recruits into each academy class. We receive approximately 100-150 applications for each Academy class.

Applicants who meet the minimum qualifications, but we just don’t have the space to accept them, will be kept on a "wait list". Do not be discouraged if you are on the wait list. Due to scheduling conflicts, other financial obligations, or personal circumstances some recruits withdraw from the academy before it begins. This means we are able to invite several recruits from the wait list.

What are the "minimum qualifications" to get accepted?

All applicants must be at least 18 years old by the application deadline; have a valid driver's license or ID; have a high school diploma or equivalent. The application must be complete and legible.

Once candidates successfully complete the application stage, they will be invited to participate in the Testing Phase. The Testing Phase includes a written exam and physical agility test.

All applicants who have been accepted into the academy after the testing phase must also complete a background check, medical examination, and drug screen prior to starting the academy. Applicants must have their NREMT credential by the academy start date. Applicants must also provide proof of a current American Heart Association equivalent Basic Life Support CPR and First Aid certification. Applicants must also provide proof of a negative TB test completed within the last calendar year and covering the applicant through the duration of the Academy, proof of a Tetanus vaccination within the last 5 years, and proof of a COVID vaccination. If any of these items are not completed successfully, the recruit will not begin that academy class, but may re-apply in the future.

Am I required to be an EMT in order to get accepted into the academy? 

All applicants must have their NREMT credential by the academy start date.

How difficult is the physical training portion of the academy?

The goal of the ARC Basic Firefighter I Academy is to prepare Fire Recruits for the very heavy and arduous physical demand level required of a firefighter. Therefore, the physical training program will progress to a similar level of physical challenge.

The physical training program begins with initial performance testing to determine your level of conditioning. Tests may include:

  • Body Composition Assessment: Estimates percentage of body weight that is composed of fat and lean mass.
  • 1 1/2 Mile Run: The individual runs 1 1/2 miles for time. Estimates aerobic capacity.
  • Push-Ups: Maximum number of push-ups completed at a rate of 40 push-ups per minute. Estimates upper extremity muscular endurance.
  • Pull Ups: Maximum number of pull-ups from a full hang position and pulling the chin up to the bar. Estimates upper extremity muscular endurance and/or strength.
  • Sit-Ups: Maximum number of feet secured ¾ sit-ups that are completed at a rate of 30 sit-ups per minute. Estimates abdominal and hip flexor muscular endurance.
  • Bench Press: Maximum weight that can be lifted for 5 repetitions. Estimates upper extremity muscular strength.
  • 400 Meter Run: The individual runs 400 meters for time. Estimates anaerobic capacity.
  • Modified Sit and Reach: The individual performs a test that measures range of motion of posterior musculature.

For the Academy recruit, physical training occurs daily at 0700 and lasts for 60 minutes. Keep in mind that following physical training the remainder of the day will likely require physically demanding drill ground activities. 

What does the Testing Phase consist of?

Once applications are selected, candidates will be invited to participate in the Testing Phase.  This includes a written exam, informal interview, and physical agility test.

  • Written Exam: Multiple Choice questions specific to CRFA.
  • Physical Agility Test: All candidates will perform a series of events to rank physical abilities upon entrance into the Academy. 

How "old" is "too old"?

Similar to the physical training, it all depends on you. We do not have an age limit for applicants. It is very possible that two people the same age, whether 20 or 40, will perform very differently. It is up to each recruit, in conjunction with their medical physician, to determine what they are physically capable of doing.