Can I Become A Firefighter In Hawaii? (What To Expect)

With lush greenery, sparkling sapphire waters and soft, sandy beaches, it is no surprise that many people want to live on the Aloha isle, Hawaii.

Hawaii is bursting with stunning scenery, good vibes, good people and a beautiful culture. This is also why aspiring firefighters want to become firefighters and live in Hawaii. 

How Do You Become A Firefighter In Hawaii

The only thing is that Hawaii has a very different fire department than other states in America. With a very different culture and environment, you can expect some of the training and protocols in Hawaii to be different from back home. 

In Hawaii, firefighters will of course have to answer calls and emergencies such as house fires, road accidents and other blazes in the state, but they are also expected to deal with many different kinds of emergencies on land, on the sea and across the islands. 

As a result, Hawaiian firefighters have a different training, opportunities and hiring process than other fire departments. So, if you want to become a firefighter in Hawaii, you will have to read on to find out how!  

What are the requirements to become a firefighter in Hawaii?

As it is with any job, there are minimum requirements to become a firefighter in Hawaii. For instance, you will need to have a high school diploma or GED, or equivalent. In addition, you will need to be at least 18 years of age, and have a state driver’s license to apply. 

In some cases, you may also need to be EMT trained or certified, as many firefighters these days respond to all manner of medical emergencies, and not just fires or blazes. 

But, it’s not just about the minimum requirements and qualifications. To become a firefighter in Hawaii, you will need to go through a strict application process, with lots of physical tests to prove your ability, fitness levels and mental capacity for the role. So, what is the application process really like? 

What is the application process for a firefighter in Hawaii?

Well, in order to become a firefighter in Hawaii, there are very specific and difficult physical agility tests to see if you are suitable for the role. These tests are designed to challenge your physical strength, abilities, and fitness, as all of these factors come into play when acting as a firefighter. 

There will be four tests in total, all of which you will need to complete and succeed in. However, these may be in any order and organized by the specific hiring station. One of the tests is a running event. In this task, you will be asked to run 5 laps, or 1.25 miles in 12 minutes or under. 

Then, you will have a strength test. This test involved carrying a hose over a course within 40 seconds to see how you can handle this.

However, you will be kitted up in a standard fire fighting kit, as this will help you understand how gruelling it can be to carry large equipment in full attire and uniform, during a fire or emergency. 

Another important test will be the weight drag test. In this task, you must run along the course track for 50 feet, then pick up a 140lb weight and run back with it. This must be done within 16 seconds or less in order to be successful. 

Last, but not least is the swimming test. Being able to swim strongly is vital in becoming a firefighter. In Hawaii, let’s be honest, there is water in abundance. As such, many emergencies may happen near or in water, and you will need to be prepared to swim to save lives.

In this test, you must swim for 100 yards in 2 minutes and 15 seconds. In addition, you will be required to dive and grab a weight from the bottom of a pool, and bring it back up to the surface. 

As you can see, becoming a firefighter in Hawaii means having a range of physical and fit capabilities, as there are so many different responsibilities.

However, you will also need to be mentally fit for the role, able to stay calm in difficult situations, have strong communication skills, and be able to work well in a team environment. 

Because of the vast amount of water around the islands in Hawaii, you also have to have good first aid and medical skills or training, to be able to save lives under all circumstances.

Firefighters in Hawaii may help with search and rescue situations or be part of safety procedures, which is why they need to be able to adapt to protect the public on land, and in the sea. 

Is there different training for firefighters in Hawaii?

Firefighter training

Hawaiian firefighters have to be more highly trained than other firefighters as they have other risks to worry about. For instance, one of the most unique things about the Hawaiian fire department is that there is the risk of volcanoes and volcanic eruptions in Hawaii. 

Therefore, Hawaiian firefighters have the added responsibility of being able to carry out fire rescues and blaze suppressions near and around volcanoes.

Whilst many volcanoes on the islands are dormant and pose no threat to islanders and tourists, many can still erupt or explode, which poses an immediate threat to life. 

As a result, Hawaiian firefighters need to be trained in dealing with volcanic eruptions, flames, and rescuing people who have fallen into volcanoes, or become trapped by lava flows and other hazardous situations.  

What are the main fire departments in Hawaii?

If you are successful in your application to become a firefighter, and have begun training or qualified, then you will need to know which departments there are in Hawaii.

There are only four counties in the entire state of Hawaii, which means that there are only four municipal fire departments. 

For instance, you have Kauai, Honolulu, Maui and Hawaii county. In some cases, such as Maui County, there are several populated islands, where there will be different fire houses that cover the area. That being said, the major fire departments in Hawaii will be Honolulu, and Kauai. 

Are there fire academies in Hawaii?

Yes, there are fire academies and colleges that provide training to become firefighters in Hawaii. To even be recruited as a firefighter, you would have to undergo extensive training, pass all of the tests and meet all of the requirements. 

Therefore, there are multiple fire academies across the islands of Hawaii that can prepare recruits and offer training and advice to help in your career prospects.

For instance, the Hawaii Fire Department itself offers training via a 16 week course, which will give you a Firefighter I Certification, along with an EMT certification (Emergency Medical Technician) upon passing all tests and screening processes. 

Once this has been achieved, you can expect weekly reports, assessments, examinations, and other training and certifications for the first year probation period.

You will also be expected to undergo other certifications such as safety training, water competency, driving tests and other examinations to prepare you for the role. 

The University of Hawaii in Honolulu can also offer training programs to prepare you to become a firefighter, as can Hawaii Community College with courses on fire safety and Fire Science. 

In these courses, you can expect to learn both practical and theoretical knowledge of fighting fires, and how to suppress fires. You will also gain valuable knowledge and training in emergency services, becoming an EMT, and gaining information on Wildland Suppression, fire prevention and how to deal with hazardous materials. 

These courses aim to give all of the tools, knowledge and experience to gain an entry level position in the fire service, as long as you meet the requirements, and pass all examinations. 

On the other hand, Maui College offers advice, education and a program that helps to prepare students for the firefighter exam, to help you meet the requirements and gain your dream roles as a firefighter.

The course at Maui College is only an 80 hour course, so it is a basic knowledge of what to expect from the firefighting recruitment process. As a result it aims to prepare and assist people into securing the role. 

Is it better to be Native Hawaiian?

You may be wondering if it is easier to become a firefighter in Hawaii if you are native Hawaiian. Hawaii is one of the places that tries to encourage native people to stay and work on the islands rather than emigrate. As such, there are more employment opportunities for those who are Native Hawaiian. 

However, that is not to say that Hawaii discriminates against hiring people of other races, backgrounds, religions or genders. Whilst it may be beneficial for Native Hawaiian people to apply for the job, there is nothing to stop non native people applying for roles in the Hawaiian fire department, especially if they have citizenship. 

The main reason that people do not get recruited is not because of their background, but because of the physical tests, requirements and lack of experience or confidence.

But do not be too disheartened, because there are academies that support those who have failed the tests before, and train and prepare them to try again during the next recruitment process.

You can also gain assistance for the written tests and the interview process, especially if you are not as strong with your language, written and mathematical skills. For an extra boost in the interview process, check out the Hawaiian Trades Academy

If you are hoping to be successful in your recruitment process, then there are a few things to keep in mind about the major fire departments in Hawaii.

How do I become a firefighter in Honolulu?

As previously mentioned, Honolulu is one of the main fire departments in Hawaii. To become a firefighter in this department, you would need to:

  • Be a citizen of Hawaii
  • Pass the written test
  • Pass the interview process
  • Have a high school diploma
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Have at least 2 years of work experience
  • Pass the fitness, agility and medical examinations

Honolulu fire department is one of the largest in the US, and definitely the largest in Hawaii, with over 1,000 people employed across the many divisions. The teams are incredibly important in keeping the people of the island safe, and so the application process can be very tough and competitive.  

How do I become a firefighter in Kauai?

In the Kauai fire department, there are many different roles. This department has 8 stations, with staff working in a range of positions and environments. For instance, there may be medical emergency response teams, rescue teams, hazardous materials teams and much more. 

With a range of environments including urban and lots of rural wildlands to cover, this department also deals with wildfire suppression, and ocean rescues and emergencies. As a result this department is very interesting and fast paced. However, the requirements are the same. You have to:

  • Be a citizen of Hawaii
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Pass the written test
  • Pass the interview
  • Have a high school diploma
  • Have at least 2 years of work experience
  • Pass the fitness, agility and medical tests

What are the job prospects for firefighters in Hawaii?

With so many different responsibilities, there can be a high demand for firefighters in Hawaii. In addition, different islands have different training, crews and qualifications, as they will need to deal with varying conditions and situations. 

For example, the very rural area of Kauai has over 400 firefighters with a high employment rate and an average wage of $55,200 per year.

Across the islands, average firefighter wages are about $55,000 but can range from $40,000 to $78,000 per year. It depends on the specific training you have, and the responsibilities of the role in your location.  


To summarize, anyone can become a firefighter in Hawaii if they have the drive, determination and skills to do it.

The tests can be very gruelling and physically demanding, but if this is something you seriously want to do, there are courses, programs and training that you can undergo to prepare, and give yourself the best chance of gaining a career as a firefighter in Hawaii.