Citizens Fire Academy

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a firefighter, this is the program for you! Citizens Fire Academy (CFA) participants learn about a different aspect of the fire service, ranging from emergency medical services, to the hiring and training of firefighters, to special rescue operations. This is a hands-on learning experience as you’ll wear bunker gear, learn how to use fire extinguishers, get your toes wet with swift-water training, and learn the operations of a ladder truck! CFA is an opportunity for the community members to engage with firefighters and learn the many disciplines supported by the San Marcos Fire Department. 

PURPOSE: To help the citizens of San Marcos gain awareness of the services that the Fire Department provides, increase fire and life safety awareness, and promote a positive image of the department to the community.

ELIGIBILITY:  Designed for adults ages 18 and older, of sound mind an body.  Applicants must live or work in the City of San Marcos and meet additional program criteria, including a criminal background check. 

TIMELINE: Citizens Fire Academy (CFA) runs every Monday evening and a few Saturdays at Fire Station #5, 100 Carlson Circle from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (excluding holidays), for 12 weeks from mid-August to graduation night in early November. Applicants who are not able to dedicate themselves to the full 12-week program are encouraged to delay applying until they are better able to commit to the full extent of the Academy. 


THIS IS NOT A TCFP CERTIFIED ACADEMY: This class is not designed to train a person to become a firefighter nor qualify to get a job as firefighter.  It is not a certification course and not a TCFP approved fire academy. It’s a fun, community class. 

APPLICATION:  Due to financial and logistical constraints, the SMFD can only accept 15 cadets into the Academy. We are no longer accepting applications for 2023. Please check back for updates and the application window for 2024.

Hands-on Exercises

Cadets enrolled in the Academy will experience live training including getting in the water at Rio Vista Park to engage in swiftwater rescue operations and navigating the rapidly moving water, rappelling off the side of a building, learning to carry and throw ground ladders, crawling on hand and knees through confined spaces in the confidence course, team-lifting and carrying your peers while in full bunker gear and SCBA, and cutting open vehicles in the extrication yard while in full bunker gear. 

We will also have our new training field completed for the 2024 class which will allow for live-fire training. This training will include dragging charged hose lines while crawling into a burning building, making interior attacks to combat the fire and cadets will also be in full bunker gear and SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus).

Also note that this class typically commences in August and temperatures while the cadets are engaged in the hands-on training portions of the Academy can be very hot!

Classroom Exercises

Cadets will learn about Incident Command and Fire Ground Operations, EMS overview, PPE and SCBA, fire extinguisher safety, pump operations, HazMat training, 9-1-1 communications and PD Dispatch tour, and fire investigation.

After completing this program, participants will be able to use their knowledge to create a safer home and work environment, as well as educate others about the San Marcos Fire Department and the services provided to the community. While this academy can be very challenging, many cadets will have the opportunity to overcome their fears in a safe and controlled environment.