"When I grow up, I'm going to be a firefighter or paramedic" - a career aspiration that many children still recite with great conviction. The chances of this wish being fulfilled are not bad. According to statistics from the German Fire Brigades Association (DFV), Germany's volunteer fire departments have a good one million members. About 35,000 more are active in professional fire departments, and about the same number belong to plant fire departments. The opportunities to become actively involved in the "blue light scene" are therefore many and varied - primarily on a voluntary basis, but also in a full-time capacity.

Anyone who wants to turn their passion for firefighting into their main job therefore has various options - with the municipal professional fire departments as well as with the plant fire departments, which also include most airport fire departments, and with the German Armed Forces fire department.

But there is also a recognized profession for those who want to work full-time in the rescue service: emergency paramedic. They are sought after, for example, by municipal rescue services or also by aid organizations such as the DRK, Johanniter, Malteser, ASB and private companies.

INTERSCHUTZ as a career platform

At INTERSCHUTZ from June 20 to 25 in Hanover, visitors will have the best opportunity to talk directly to the various organizations and find out at length what might be suitable for them. A few examples: German Fire Brigade Association (Hall 27/D38), Hanover Fire Brigade (Hall 12/B48), Berlin Fire Brigade (Hall 13/C10), Dortmund Fire Brigade (Hall 17/D06), (Works Fire Brigade Association Germany (Hall 13, Stand H19), German Armed Forces Fire Brigade (Hall 17/B76), German Red Cross (Hall 17/B58 and Hall 26/G29), Johanniter (Hall 26/C29 and Hall 26/F13), Malteser (Hall 26/G05), ASB (Hall 26/C01).

A visit to INTERSCHUTZ can therefore be the ideal starting point for the dream job of the future for young professionals as well as for career changers.

How do you become a professional firefighter?

The application process for professional firefighters is not the same in all German states. This is because training is a state matter. But it is similar. The training, on the other hand, is different everywhere. As an example, here is an overview of the conditions at the Hanover Fire Department for anyone who would like to apply, for example, as a firefighter candidate in the firefighting service.

It gets sporty at the beginning

Those who meet the hiring requirements and have submitted their application documents correctly will receive an invitation to take a physical aptitude test. The following exercises must be successfully completed:

  • At least twelve push-ups at a specified movement speed.
  • Cooper test: Twelve-minute run, at least 2,400 m must be achieved in the process
  • 200 m swim in six minutes
  • Diving: Dive headfirst from the edge of the pool for at least 15 m, surface and continue swimming to the end of a 25 m lane.
  • Fire department turntable ladder: turntable ladder climb (30 m), time limit 4 minutes.
  • If any of the exercises are not met, the test cannot be continued.

    After passing the physical aptitude test and a decision by the selection committee, an invitation will be sent to the written aptitude test, which will be conducted by the German Society for Personnel Management (DGP) at the Hanover Fire Department. After evaluation of the written aptitude test and decision by the selection committee, the invitation to the medical aptitude test is sent. Only those who have also passed the medical aptitude test can be invited to the interview.

    After successful completion of all aptitude tests, the selection committee evaluates the results and determines the applicants selected for employment.

    After passing the examinations

    You will be hired as a fire chief candidate in the preparatory service (civil servant relationship on revocation). The preparatory service (training) generally lasts 24 months and ends with the career examination. After passing the examination, the civil servant leaves the previous civil service by operation of law. There is no entitlement to transfer to a new civil service position. If the civil servant is accepted as a probationary civil servant, he or she is appointed as a fire chief (grade A7).

    Following the preparatory service, training as a state-certified emergency paramedic is carried out. Failure to pass the examination, the information from the city of Hanover continues, can result in dismissal. The preparatory service and the rescue service training take place in principle in the day service. After the end of the probationary period (basically 3 years), the appointment as a civil servant for life takes place. After that, further professional advancement (promotion) is possible to senior fire chief (A 8) or chief fire chief (A 9). In case of special qualification, advancement to the next higher career (career group II - grade A 10 - A 13) is also possible.

    How does one become an emergency paramedic?

    For those who want to work full-time in the rescue service, the profession of emergency paramedic is an option.

    They belong to the specialist rescue staff and are usually employed in the emergency rescue sector as transport drivers in the rescue transport vehicle (RTW). In addition, they are used as drivers of the emergency medical service vehicle and as crew members (HEMS TC) on the rescue helicopter and assist the emergency physicians as a team member.


    A secondary school diploma or higher and the completed 17th year of age are required, as well as a certificate of good conduct and a medical certificate on the physical and health suitability including sufficient vaccinations.

    Also required are the ability to make decisions and react quickly (e.g. when caring for patients, during emergency trips), diligence and a sense of responsibility, empathy, mental stability and a good physical constitution.

    For the responsible activity, comprehensive professional, personal, social and methodological skills are taught in the vocational training in order to be able to work independently and team-oriented in the emergency medical care and transport of patients. Emergency paramedics have wide-ranging medical skills.

    In addition, they take on important organizational tasks in the rescue service and in rescue control centers. Additional areas of activity are offered by emergency rooms in clinics, corporate health care and professional fire departments.

    Three-year vocational training

    The three-year training to become an emergency paramedic comprises 1,920 hours of theoretical/practical instruction and a practical part (2,680 hours). The theoretical part is completed, for example, at the Johanniter Academy or at a cooperating emergency paramedic school.

    The practical training takes place, for example, at a Johanniter training ambulance station (1,960 hours) and in particularly suitable hospitals (720 hours), including in the functional areas of the emergency room, operating room/anesthesia department, intensive care unit, psychiatry, pediatrics/gynecology.

    Very important: The training is free of tuition fees. An attractive training salary is offered in accordance with AVR DWBO.

    Interesting prospects after training

    After a versatile and varied vocational training with a large number of advanced and further training measures, there are interesting prospects - for example as a disinfector, practice supervisor, organizational manager in the rescue service, quality management representative or manager of a rescue station. And a course of study in health care management, emergency education, or international emergency and disaster relief at the Akkon University of Applied Sciences in Berlin can also be an interesting option. (Source: Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe)

    Voices from the field: "No two days are the same"

    Julia Simon, works full-time in the press office of the high-tech shoe manufacturer HAIX and has been regularly deploying to operations as a volunteer firefighter for more than 10 years. She is currently a group leader and youth leader in the Mainburg fire department: "As a child or teenager, I never really wanted to become a firefighter. In the meantime, firefighting is like a second family to me. We stick together and rise above ourselves in disasters and emergencies. No one can master everything alone. There is a task for everyone. Because volunteer firefighters thrive on diversity - men and women from different professions bring different talents to the table, which then adds up to a great team. For example, I'm relatively small and can't reach all the equipment, but I'm good at keeping a cool head in the field and maintaining an overview in stressful situations, which helps enormously as a group leader."

    Henrik Schwetje is a professional firefighter in Hanover. He explains why he chose the profession this way: "After I had two career paths in mind after school, I initially chose another one. I worked in this profession for ten years, but the desire to become a fire chief never left me. Being able to help others in emergency situations is what drives me. Finding solutions where others don't know what to do, mastering borderline situations in a team, the collegial cohesion and the constant variety in everyday work are just a few of the things that make this job so exciting for me."

    One of more than a million volunteer firefighters is Tom Niggl, commander of the Irschenberg fire department. He says of his voluntary commitment: "I see it as my life's work to offer all citizens in need the best possible help around the clock with my voluntary and honorary team."

    Markus Dombrowsky, emergency paramedic, Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe e.V., Regionalverband Südniedersachsen, has been working in emergency medical services since 2007: "The special thing about this job is that no two days are the same. Sometimes we help people in exceptional situations and are medically active - sometimes an open ear helps. People are individual and therefore our missions are often very different. We have to adapt to new situations every day and apply our expertise to the situation in order to save people. And if we receive positive feedback from patients and relatives, then the day has gone well. In addition, camaraderie is particularly important in the rescue service. No one can rescue alone. We are all team players. We support each other during the shift and also afterwards. Especially when we exchange ideas and share our experiences."

    Saskia Stork, trainee emergency paramedic, Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe e.V., Regionalverband Niedersachsen Mitte: "I'm becoming an emergency paramedic because the job means a lot to me. I love getting on the vehicle and helping people. I like learning new colleagues and being able to shape the ambulance service myself as a young person. Getting good feedback from the hospitals or a thank you from the patients gives me a good feeling, it makes me feel needed. In addition, we are an important part of the healthcare system and the team feeling is unique. We all have the same goal: to help people."