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Join San Diego Fire-Rescue

Choosing a career as a Firefighter is the beginning of a journey. It can be one of the most challenging, exciting and rewarding experiences of your life.

Learn More about being a Firefighter

Meet the Chief

Chief Colin Stowell is the 18th fire chief of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department (SDFD). Chief Stowell was hired by SDFD in 1988 and has served in every rank in the department. He earned an associate’s degree in fire science from Miramar College, a bachelor’s degree in public administration from San Diego State University and completed the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy.

Read more about Chief Stowell

photo of Chief Colin Stowell

Application Process

1 Meet the minimum requirements

You must meet the following requirements on the date you apply, unless otherwise indicated.

AGE: You must be at least 18 years old to apply (no maximum age).

EDUCATION: Graduation from high school OR passage of the California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE) or General Education Development (GED) examination.

CITIZENSHIP: You must be a United States citizen or have the current legal right to work in the United States.

CANDIDATE PHYSICAL ABILITY TEST (CPAT) CERTIFICATION: A valid Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) certification issued within one year of interview date is required at the time of interview.


  • Attach a copy of your valid CPAT certification if it was issued within the last six months.

CERTIFICATE: You must have ALL of the following valid certificates:

  1. Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Certificate or a Paramedic License issued ONLY by the State of California or by the National Registry (NREMT-Basic) or by an EMT or Paramedic certifying agency approved by the State of California.
  2. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Card (Healthcare Provider/BLS Provider equivalent or higher).


  • A valid County of San Diego Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Certificate or Paramedic License issued by the State of California and certified by the County of San Diego is required at the time of hire.
  • A valid Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Card (Healthcare Provider/BLS Provider equivalent or higher) is required at the time of hire.
  • A Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) or Pediatric Education for Prehospital Professionals (PEPP) Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Certificate is NOT qualifying.

LICENSE:  A valid California Class C Driver License is required at the time of hire.  

2 Submit an application

Go to the City's Open Job Opportunities page to fill out an application for Fire Recruit.

Is the application period closed? Here's what you can do while you wait...

  • Fill out the Application Contact Information form to help us serve you better in the future.
  • Be notified when applications are being accepted again by filling out the Job Interest Card.
  • Associate's Degree programs for Fire Science or Emergency Management are appropriate degree tracks for the Fire Service. Though they are not required, it is a great way to begin preparing for your career advancement opportunities.
  • Be a volunteer! Volunteerism is an important aspect to being a firefighter with San Diego Fire-Rescue. Being involved in community service activities (doesn't have to be fire-related) will be helpful in during the interview process.
  • If you are transitioning from the military and you are in or near Camp Pendleton, the Skills Development Program Office offers the First Responder course, which is designed to help you get your EMT and other certificates.

3 Take the Civil Service Exam

If you pass the application phase, then it's time to take the Civil Service Exam.

4 Get scheduled for an interview

Once you pass the written exam and meet the criteria for an interview, you will be notified by Personnel about your scheduled interview date. If you have questions about any portion of the process, please contact Personnel at or 619-236-6400.

5 Get invited to Fire C.A.M.P.

The Candidate Assistance Mentoring Program is a high intensity, functional fitness conditioning program designed to prepare and inspire "highly qualified" candidates for the Fire Academy. A "highly qualified" candidate is someone who is currently in the hiring process and has passed the Captains interview panel.

Fire C.A.M.P. candidates will be oriented to equipment and tools used in the Fire Academy. This includes memorizing spiels (Equipment Specifications) and station locations.

6 Attend Fire Academy

If you do well in Fire C.A.M.P., then your next stop is the Fire Academy!

Watch the 81st SDFD Fire Academy

Follow the San Diego Fire Academy:


Recruitment Events

April 4-5, 2020 - Girls Empowerment Camp


Questions? Contact us at

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