MARATHON, FL – The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners has approved “Monroe Hot Shots.” This new Monroe County Fire Rescue program provides free firefighting and first responder training for qualified Monroe County residents in exchange for a commitment to work or volunteer as a firefighter anywhere in the Keys.

The program waives the $2200 curriculum fee for qualified local residents – 18 and older with a minimum of a high school diploma or GED – to take the Firefighter I and II courses at Monroe County’s new Fire Training Academy facility at 56633 Overseas Highway on Crawl Key (mile marker 56.6). This training academy is one of only 43 approved “live burn” facilities in Florida.

Students who successfully complete all 17 performance objectives of the firefighter program will be prepared to take the State of Florida Firefighter I and II examination.

The classes begin Aug. 27, 2018 and run through Nov. 16, 2018. The State test will follow.

There is a mandatory meeting for all interested participants on Thursday, Aug. 9, at 9 a.m. at the Training Academy. Information regarding required insurance and gear rental will be provided at that time. Interested participants also will take a written test and physical agility test at this meeting.

Before attending the meeting, prerequisites include providing a medical form signed by a physician that states you are medically fit to perform firefighting duties; and signing a tobacco affidavit that you do not smoke or use other tobacco products.

Class Rules and Regulations along with the New Applicant Packet, which extracts those pages from the Rules and Regulations, are available on the Fire Rescue website at This applicant package – which includes a class contract and hold harmless agreement – must be filled out and returned prior to the August 9 meeting, or brought with you to the meeting. It also provides criteria for the physical agility test to give you time to prepare. No student may participate in the physical agility test without returning the required documents.

To submit documents in advance, email them to or fax them to 305-289-6336.

A background check will be completed on students after they are registered into the program.

Students will be responsible for purchasing their own instructional book (Essentials of Firefighting 6th Edition). They also will be responsible for rental fees for required bunker gear, taking care of their own accommodations (if necessary) and transportation to the academy.

Students who are approved for the fee waiver must commit to volunteer at a Monroe County station for a minimum of three years. This volunteer requirement is terminated if the student is hired as a full-time career firefighter anywhere in Monroe County.

The purpose of this program is to decrease the high turnover rate of firefighters (now about 15 percent annually), which is costly and disruptive. Due to the high cost of living, Monroe County Fire Rescue has been hiring more and more firefighters who live on the mainland and commute to their assigned stations throughout the Keys.

Non-residents also can enroll in the firefighting courses, but qualified local residents will receive preference in the enrollment process.

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