JFRD actively recruiting from 10 Jacksonville ZIP codes for fire apprentice program

"Life-changing" firefighter program

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — There’s a major effort underway to recruit more people from underserved parts of town to become Jacksonville firefighters.

An open house is happening this Saturday at The Legends Center for those who live in 32202, 32205, 32206, 32208, 32209, 32210, 32211, 32218, 32244, 32254 and are interested in a career with the Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department.

You must attend the open house with the proper paperwork in order to be considered.

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Jacksonville Fire Chief Keith Powers knows what it’s like to come from nothing. He looked back on his days of working around the clock to land his dream job.

“I went at night and I had to work full-time during the day. I’m not complaining, hard work does you good, hard work gets you places but it was a struggle,” Powers said.

It’s why the fire apprentice program is personal to him and felt it was important to speak with Action News Jax to let more people know about the program that he calls “life-changing.”

“It’s very important one, that the Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department looks just like our community, it’s extremely important. Diversity is important,” he said.

Before you can even apply to become a firefighter, you have to first get state certified as a firefighter and emergency medical technician or EMT. On average, Powers said, the training courses could run from $6,500 to $8,000 – leaving many candidates, mostly minorities, out.

“Once they’re selected, the entire firefighter 1, firefighter 2, an EMT is paid for by the city of Jacksonville,” he said. “Once they get that, they become a priority hire for us.”

There are several requirements to qualify, including passing a background screening, drug test and agility test.

You also must have a high school diploma or equivalent and be between 17-21 years old.

“We’re going to do an apprenticeship class of 20 in June and we’re going to do another class of 20 in October, so there’s an opportunity for 40 young men and women in this community to come be part of this great department,” Powers said.

Saturday’s open house begins at 10 a.m. at The Legends Center located at 5130 Soutel Drive.

To expedite the application process please bring a copy of the following items to the open house:

• Valid driver’s license or Florida ID (copy both sides)

• Birth certificate

• High school diploma or GED

• Official high school transcripts (GPA must be listed on transcript)

• Driving record report for the last three years from DMV

• Immunization record (normally listed on your high school transcript)

• Proof of health insurance (if you have health insurance)

• NOTE: May/June 2020 graduates, you are still encouraged to attend the open house even if you won’t have your high school diploma at the time. However, please bring all other required documents.