Corvallis Fire Launches Paid Apprentice Firefighter Program

The Corvallis Fire Department is gearing up to launch a new paid firefighter apprentice program designed to create entry-level opportunities for diverse candidates interested in a career in the fire service. 

The apprentice program is funded by a $1.6 million grant from the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. Corvallis was one of just three communities in the state to receive funding to create a new apprentice firefighter program. 

The new program will begin recruiting in fall 2024 to fill six funded firefighter apprentice positions. The recruits will then go through a 16-week training academy to prepare them to work alongside career firefighters in Corvallis. 

Application requirements for the apprentice program are intended to reduce barriers for entry and reach a more diverse applicant pool. Applicants must be 18 years old, hold a high school diploma or GED, hold a valid driver’s license, and pass a fire service physical. Unlike a career firefighter staff position at Corvallis Fire, there is no requirement to hold an EMT or paramedic certification to be hired. 

“This program will also allow us to break down barriers to entering the career field by reducing the requirements to enter CFD in a paid capacity,” said Corvallis Fire Chief Ben Janes. “This apprentice program will also allow CFD to address citywide initiatives on diversity, equity, and inclusion, as recruitment for these positions will focus on recruiting women, veterans, and members of minority populations into the fire service.” 

The grant funding will pay for wages, benefits, and training for the apprentices, as well as uniforms and equipment needed on the job. The apprentice program in Corvallis is funded for two years, after which point the apprentices will gain their journey-level firefighter status that will make them strong candidates for full time employment at any fire department or fire district in the state.  

In addition to offering a new, low-barrier entry point into the fire service, the apprentice program will provide major benefits to the Corvallis Fire Department and the Corvallis community. By adding two additional trained firefighters to the daily staffing pool, the Fire Department will be able to meet industry standard staffing levels at two of the four fire stations inside City limits. 

“When the apprentices are on duty, it will provide two additional paid firefighters to staff the city and will allow us to meet National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards of four-person engine or truck staffing,” Chief Janes noted. 

Recruitment for the apprentice program is expected to begin in late summer or early fall, with the training academy tentatively scheduled for February 2025. 

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