Frequently Asked Questions

What schooling and certifications, besides a high school diploma, do I need to be considered for the job of Firefighter?

The Madison Fire Department does not require a degree or certifications to be considered for Firefighter. All individuals who are hired attend the MFD’s Recruit Academy, which is designed to teach new firefighters the necessary skills needed for the job.

What can I do to stand out among other candidates?

This is a highly sought-after position, and the application process is competitive. There is no single answer to this question as everybody brings different assets to the table.

In addition to doing well on the written exam, we encourage you to use the interview phase to effectively demonstrate the capabilities and values you would contribute to the Department and its mission.

I have previous experience as a firefighter and have many or all fire-related certificates. Do I still have to go through the entire Fire Academy?

Yes. All new members of the Department are required to attend the Recruit Academy regardless of past years of firefighting experience or existing certifications. This academy is designed to help the recruit become a successful member the Engine or Ladder company to which they will be assigned upon completion.

Would someone with certain pre-existing medical conditions still be considered as an applicant to the Madison Fire Department?

Yes. We encourage anybody interested in applying to the Department to do so. The final component of the application process is a medical evaluation by our occupational medical provider, SSM Health. The medical providers will make a determination about an applicant's ability to fulfill the duties of the job based on standards set forth in NFPA 1582 .

Is there any veterans preference taken into account during the hiring process?

Veteran points are added to the overall score from the initial test for candidates who meet all of the following requirements:

  • Submitted a Form DD-214 with their application or no later than the test date;
  • Are eligible to receive veteran’s points in accordance with WI State Statute; and
  • Passed the test.

What can I be doing as a high school student looking for a career with the MFD that will maximize my chances of being hired?

There are some great programs to explore if the fire service is what you really want to pursue. Here in Madison, Fire Service Certifications (FF-1, FF-2, and EMT programs) are available through Madison College. These types of programs will give you direct knowledge of the field itself.

However, you do not need to pursue these types of classes in order to compete successfully in the firefighter recruitment process.

What's equally important to us is finding candidates who are in tune with the needs of their community. Whether through volunteering, community outreach, or other life experience, the most successful candidates will be those who show genuine compassion for people and an active interest in serving the community.

I have certifications that I believe qualify me for one of the MFD’s Special Teams (e.g. Hazmat, Lake Rescue, Heavy Urban Rescue). What do I need to do to join a Special Team?

To become a member of any of our special teams, you must first become a firefighter with the department and then complete the department's internal selection process for Special Teams when positions become available. All City of Madison Fire Department Special Teams members are selected from within the department.

I am a firefighter/EMT/paramedic from out of state. Will my current state fire certifications and EMS license(s) transfer over?

If you carry national certifications, these will transfer over to the Madison Fire Department. Acceptance of state certifications will vary on a case-by-case basis. It is recommended that you submit your certifications at the proper time during the application process or at time of hire, and they will be reviewed for compliance with local requirements.

Nevertheless, all new recruits do go through a pre-service Fire Academy. Those who carry EMT licenses often begin serving at a fire station immediately following Fire Academy graduation, while those who still need EMT certification will continue their studies before serving at the fire stations.

How many hours per day is the Recruit Academy? Will I be able to work another job at the same time?

Once you are in the Fire Academy, you are a full-time employee of the City of Madison Fire Department. The Academy will challenge you and require your full attention in order to be successful and graduate. Homework and study time should be accounted for when considering how much time you'll be dedicating to the Fire Academy. Working another job at the same time can be done at your discretion, on your own time, but may present challenges as you try to keep up with the demands of the MFD Fire Academy.

How do station assignments work?

Upon graduation from the Academy, firefighters are assigned to a station and shift. They are not assigned to specific apparatus. Some fire stations house a ladder company and engine company; you may rotate among the two apparatuses if assigned at one of these stations.

I am 17 years old, but I will turn 18 during the application process. Can I still apply to be a firefighter?

You must be 18 years of age at the time you submit your application.

What is the process to become a paramedic with the MFD?

After becoming a firefighter with the City of Madison Fire Department, firefighters can apply for paramedic training when such opportunities are announced. Recently, MFD has been able to offer paramedic training at least once per year. The amount of training required will depend on an individual's qualifications, as well as the Department's review of an individual's skill level.

Would I be eligible for any college tuition forgiveness or reimbursement programs if I join the MFD?

Yes, thanks to a federal program, all members of the protective services are eligible for student loan forgiveness.

Additionally, The City of Madison Fire Department offers tuition reimbursement for undergraduate classes at the UW-Madison rate. There are no reimbursement or forgiveness programs for graduate studies.