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Air Force


Non-Commissioned Member | Full Time

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Firefighters prevent the loss of life or property due to fire. They perform a variety of tasks including aircraft rescue, structural, and wild land firefighting, automobile extrication, hazardous material, and confined space/high-angle rescue. Fire investigation, fire prevention and life safety inspection are also areas of expertise.

The primary responsibilities of Firefighters are to:

  • Perform rescue, extinguishment, ventilation, overhaul, and forcible entry operations
  • Drive and operate all types of firefighting vehicles
  • Inspect and test fixed fire suppression and detection systems
  • Maintain fire department equipment such as ladders, hose, rope, breathing apparatus, extinguishers, personal protective equipment, and all associated rescue equipment and vehicles
  • Perform inspector duties, conduct inspections, and project reviews in order to make recommendations and corrective measures
  • Provide peer and public instruction and education
  • Provide helicopter rescue and damage control services as a member of a firefighting team
  • Respond as part of an Airfield Engineering Squadron
  • Respond to aircraft cable engagements and provide mobile arrestor gear skills
  • Perform emergency medical response

Work environment

Although members of the Air Force, Firefighters may work to support Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy, or Royal Canadian Air Force operations. Firefighters provide 24 hour fire protection by working in teams that rotate responsibilities and shifts, and are supported by day staff that includes the Fire Chief, Deputy Fire Chief and Inspectors. Firefighters may deploy away from their home base in support of military operations in Canada or abroad for up to six months. Appropriate training, environmental clothing and equipment are provided.

Career Overview




I’m Master Corporal Shawn Mainville, I’m from Cornwall, Ontario – I’m a Fire Fighter presently serving at Canadian Forces Fire and CBRN Academy in Borden, Ontario.

I’m Corporal Lawrence Martin from Niagara Falls, Ontario – and I’m a Fire Fighter at 8 Wing Trenton.

MAINVILLE: Wherever our forces train, fight and fly, we’re there – ready to cope with anything that gets thrown our way.

MARTIN: We do a lot more than fight fires,in buildings. We drive and operate fire fighting apparatus and respond to aircraft and vehicle incidents. We keep fire-detection and suppression systems in working order, respond to hazardous material spills and maintain self-contained breathing apparatus. We’re also trained for confined space and technical rescue as well as Emergency Medical Response.

MAINVILLE: It takes courage and commitment to be a military fire fighter, but there are many rewards– great pay, world-class gear, global travel, opportunities for promotion and being part of one of the most highly-trained and versatile firefighting teams in Canada.

MARTIN: I enjoy how unpredictable this job can be. Every time the bells sound, your adrenaline rushes and you prepare to respond, without many details on the emergency. It could be an aircraft in distress, a fire in a hangar, a medical emergency in the building next door. You don’t know what you are walking into until you arrive at the scene.

MAINVILLE: We may not have the call volume that you see in a civilian department but our skill set is something that each one of our civilian counterparts would dream to have. The training is incredible; it covers so many different skills because fighting fires in the military is unique. And as a military fire fighter, you can deploy and see the world, something no other department can match.

MARTIN: Opportunities for travel exist for all firefighters. Military postings and domestic operations take you across the country, including Canadian Forces Station Alert, and with overseas deployments taking you to every corner of the globe.

MAINVILLE: After Basic Training, you will be sent to the Canadian Forces Base Borden in preparation to attend your apprentice level fire fighter course.

MARTIN: At the Canadian Forces Fire and CBRN Academy you will undergo intensive training in every facet of the Fire Fighting trade: how to attack structural, wildland and aircraft fires, aircraft and vehicle rescue, Emergency Medical Response as well as fire and safety prevention.

MAINVILLE: Every ounce of training we do, is as close as possible to the real thing. The Canadian Forces Fire and CBRN Academy is an accredited institution that has been recognized as one of the best in the world – with 11 levels of accreditation. Once you finish your apprentice level training, you`ll be sent to your first military fire department, putting your newly learnt skills to the test. Once you’re done working there for a day, you know that you’ve given your all.

MARTIN: Coming here, you’re obviously the new kid on the block. Everyone puts you through your paces when you first come to a hall. It’s all good fun and they just want to see what you’re made of.

MAINVILLE: You’ll be doing a lot of fire prevention education and, of course, responding to alarms and emergency situations.

MARTIN: Daily you come in and inspect your vehicles and make sure everything is in good working order. After that, you have the daily maintenance to complete, which includes ensuring fire extinguishers and fire alarm systems are in proper working condition. We maintain fire suppression systems and we inspect a number of different job sites to make sure fire prevention is enforced, providing a safe working environment for everyone on the base.

MAINVILLE: The Fire Fighter trade offers great opportunities for promotion and advancement. In a reasonable time, you can work your way up to a Fire Prevention Inspector, Platoon Chief or Deputy Fire Chief. You may also have the opportunity to become a Fire Chief.

MAINVILLE: When you talk to the other fire fighters and mention the places you’ve seen and the things you’ve done you can tell that they’re impressed.

MARTIN: The camaraderie is second to none. We’re a big family, whether at work or after hours we’re always spending time together.  Even when were away from home on deployments, this bond carries over as we look after the needs of each other’s families.

MAINVILLE: For those considering the fire fighter profession but also want exciting and enriching life experiences, the Canadian Armed Forces is absolutely the place to come.


Related Civilian Occupations

  • Structural Firefighter
  • Airport Firefighter
  • Fire Inspector
  • Fire Service Instructor


The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.

Learn more about Basic Training here.

Firefighters attend the Canadian Forces Fire Academy in Borden, Ontario. Training takes approximately 7 months and includes the following topics:

  • Operation of fire apparatus
  • Structural operations at the site of a fire
  • Fire and life safety practices
  • Aircraft rescue firefighting operations
  • Rescue during situations presenting special problems
  • Operation of portable fire extinguishers
  • Operation of fire apparatus ancillary equipment
  • Wild land operations at the site of a fire
  • Map reading
  • Physical fitness standards
  • Hazardous material awareness

Firefighters may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Structural firefighter
  • Airport firefighter
  • Fire inspector
  • Fire investigator
  • Fire instructor
  • Hazardous material incident commander
  • Fire officer
  • Hazardous material technician

Entry plans

The minimum required education to apply for this occupation is :

  • Graduation from an accredited fire service program, or,
  • Secondary school graduation certificate or Quebec  Secondary 5, including:
    • Gr 11 academic math or math 436 /SN 4/TS 4 in Quebec; and any chemistry or physics/physical science course at the Gr 11 or Quebec Secondary 5 level


Applicants to the Firefighter occupation must have a valid driver’s licence.

The ideal candidate already have a college diploma, the CAF will decide if your academic program matches the training criteria for this job and may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic training and military occupation training is required before being assigned.

Firefighter is a very popular occupation and, as a result, very competitive. Successful applicants often have additional education in a related field or previous experience as a full- or part-time firefighter. Applicants should be physically fit, follow a physical fitness program and pursue an active and healthy lifestyle.

All applicants are required to successfully pass the Firefighter Pre-Entry Fitness Evaluation prior to beginning training at the Canadian Forces Fire Academy.

Foreign education may be accepted.