Thread: BATES Fire Service Program???
10-03-2008, 06:09 PM #1
- Join Date
- Jul 2007
- Tacoma, WA
BATES Fire Service Program???
Has anyone gone through this program at bates? I was thinking about signing up for this but I'm not to sure if its the right thing to do? I guess it couldn't hurt to get a Fire Service degree but I don't want to waste 2 years if you know what I mean? So if anyone has any advice or knows anything about this program please let me know.
Thanks again, Kyle
PS. If you want to e-mail me please do @ firstname.lastname@example.org
10-06-2008, 07:18 PM #2
- Join Date
- Feb 2006
Where are you at in the hiring process?
Where are you at in your journey to becoming a firefighter? What are your goals (where do you want to work, what path do you want to take in the fire service, do you want to promote, etc). How old are you? What prior experience/degrees do you have, if any?
In short I think the program at Bates is pretty good. I know more than a few people as both a volunteer and now career firefighter that went through the program. However, Bates isn't the only game in town, and depending on how old you are I personally might suggest different paths.
10-07-2008, 02:21 PM #3
- Join Date
- Jul 2007
- Tacoma, WA
I've been testing for over a year now and I'm getting to the point where thats just not enough for me and I feel the need to do a whole lot more. The reason why I'm thinking of doing the Bates program to be honest is I really don't know what to do? A part of me wants to do this to get something more under my belt and the other part thinks I should just volunteer and get my EMT and then put myself throw the State Volunteer Academy?
I'm 25 years old and I work full time for a retail store which makes things easier because I have that option to take time off from work and test or whatever I need to do. My goals are to get as much
information/inexperience/skills and insight as I can to further advance this career I want very badly! As far as where I want to work I guess I'm open in the state of Washington? I don't have any prior experience/degrees
So heres a little insight into my life lol
Thanks again, Kyle
10-08-2008, 10:47 AM #4
- Join Date
- Feb 2006
You'll hear a ton of different advice from everyone on the "path" to becoming a firefighter, and this is just one person's advice.
If I were you I would go get my EMT cert first, and then begin the process to become a volunteer firefighter. Look for a department that is relatively close to you - if you aren't driving 1 hour each way than that gives you more access and time to give to the department which equals a better reputation there.
Here is my logic: getting the EMT cert first opens up more testing opportunities. I know more than a few Departments in Puget Sound require you to have a EMT cert even before testing, or at least upon hiring. Second, if you have the EMT cert before you become a volunteer you will be able to do more on calls when you finally start running them.
You should then become a volunteer. Most departments will put you through their own academy hopefully leading to your FF1 cert. Becoming a volunteer will give you valuable experience on which to draw on for your oral boards. It will also give you a tremendous amount of experience so that when you go through a career academy you have a better chance of surviving. It also opens up the possibility of a lateral hire but this is usually after 5 years of volunteer experience.
You can do these 2 concurrently but it would be tough to do with a full time job as well.
The Bates thing I think gives you a fire science degree and your FF1. This is great but most volunteer departments will still make you go through their academy, and you'd probably get the FF1 as well, so really the only thing you get is a 2 year degree. I guess if someone was going to devote that much time to a degree I'd rather seem them spend a bit more time and get a 4 year degree. If you are dead set on Bates then by all means go for it, it's a great program and you'll meet a ton of good people from Pierce County Fire Departments. I just wanted to offer another viewpoint. A good resource is Chief Lepore's "The Aspiring Firefighter's 2 Year Plan". It gives some good viewpoints on a good pathway to becoming a career firefighter.
Hope his helps.
10-10-2008, 04:28 PM #5
- Join Date
- Jul 2007
- Tacoma, WA
10-11-2008, 01:51 AM #6
- Join Date
- Sep 2005
I should preface this by saying this is my personal opinion - I hope my opinions don't come across as curt or rude. MikeyD1 has some great advice as well. I was fortunate enough to be hired after about a year and a half of testing. From my personal experience this is what I would consider. If you take anything from this (from a starting standpoint), it would be the information regarding your EMT cert.
First off, the most important thing you need to do is get your EMT cert. Not having an EMT will limit you severely in terms of minimum requirements. I know of VERY few departments who don't require an EMT certification for the initial application process. The only ones I can think of are Seattle and Tacoma - but do the math...the odds in terms of pure applicant numbers are stacked against you with those departments. Seattle doesn't require an EMT cert to apply, but you must obtain it before your hire date. They offer an EMT program for candidates who have advanced far into the process, but from what I understand it can be difficult to get into. Even if you do get far into their process, the odds are still tough. Their "certified" list (number of candidates eligible to move to preemployment after the initial oral board process) is typically around 800 people. They typically draw from a pool of 200 candidates for each individual class (typically 12-24). Once that class is hired, I believe they round file the rest of the initial 200 (qualified - many are eliminated due to background issues) candidates, and move on to the next 200 for consideration for the next recruit class. So, I would definitely be wary of putting all your eggs into the "Seattle Basket" if you make their list. Not trying to be pessimistic, but it really is all about statistical odds. I also believe they're currently on a hiring freeze, with the supposed next class (in February 2009) to be coming from a list from 2007. One of the guys I work with was offered a job with Seattle, but it was delayed due to the aforementioned freeze.
There are a few schools in Tacoma offering EMT programs. TCC and MTCI (in Lakewood) are two of them. Bates may offer a program, but I'm not currently aware of one.
MikeyD1 is dead on, the importance of the EMT cert cannot be overstated! You're already behind the 8 ball, but you can recover if you act immediately. The state of Washington is in the middle (and probably nearing the tail end) of the largest hiring surge since the 1970's. LEOFF 1 firefighters are retiring in droves, and many departments are staffing up/making the transition to entirely career staffing. But it will not last forever, especially in today's economy. You need to act fast! Alot of volunteer programs will put you through EMT school as well (see further notes about volunteering below).
Once you get your EMT cert, I would reccomend staying away from working at an ambulance/transport company (provided this is something you may have considered for experience). I turned down offers from AMR and TriMed at the last minute, because I didn't have a good impression of the culture of ambulance companies. I'm sure there are a lot of great people who work there, and quite a few who have gotten hired. But, most of the Ambulance company workers I've encountered in the field (and worked with at contracted events) seem burned out and bitter. There also seems to be a great deal of animosity towards fire departments at these companies (at least in Washington). Not a good atmosphere to be around, it could drag you down! Also, I don't know how much of an opportunity it provides to improve your skills. While it does give you alot of patient contact/experience in vitals/etc., it doesn't provide you the true opportunity to make first due decisions, the most important component of EMS skill development. Volunteering would likely provide a much greater opportunity to do so.
Where are you at in your testing? What is your rate of improvement? Have you made it to any chief's interviews/conditional offers? Do you have an organized plan/goal list of how you're going to improve? Are you currently subscribing to firecareers.com? Do you have a "date of hire" written down? Having a deadline for when you want to be hired will help to motivate you and promote good time/task management.
Work on your oral board skills. The more tests you take successfully(remember the EMT cert notes), the more oral boards you will be invited to. Captain Bob and BC Lepore are good reference points. You should be able to progress to a point where you walk into interviews as comfortable/confident as possible, be able to reflect upon your personal experiences/strengths, and most importantly, be yourself on purpose. Fire departments want to see if you're going to fit into their culture. That is what the oral board is all about, and it is the most important component of the process. Your best chances of demonstrating your're the right candidate for a recruit opportunity are reflected in the sentences above.
Regarding above - In my (humble) opinion, being "squared away" is the number one thing that will separate you from the pack!
Having a fire science degree is good, but it likely won't help you get ahead in terms of final hiring decisions. While it does show you're committed to learning, the reality is every department is it's own kingdom, and they will "retrain" you to do things THEIR way once hired. Plus, candidates with FS degrees are a dime a dozen. State certified academies (North Bend, Bates) are good options, but with exception to a few smaller departments, most places will put you through an academy again. The primary benefit of completing a state academy is complete it (and perform well),is it demonstrates you're able to handle the rigors of a full time academy.
As with the EMT cert, there are volunteer programs that will sponsor (and sometimes completely fund, based on tenure) you to go through. A much better option than paying your way through. Some of these departments will make you sign a "committment" to remain with the department for a set period of time after completing academy, to repay your "debt" for the provided training. However, if you get hired elsewhere after completing the academy, I don't believe they can legally hold you financially accountable to pay for it. I would reccomend against the state volunteer academy (i.e. Basic Firefighter Academy/Weekend Recruit Academy @ North Bend). While it does provide you with your FF1, the level of training is substantially reduced (due to time constraints) and it will likely be taken will a lower degree of consideration than completion of a full time academy.
That being said, one of the benefits of the Bates program (should you decide to enroll) is they will really hammer you on attention to detail - a very positive character trait to develop. BUT, do NOT put Bates ahead of an EMT certification. You can test for more departments while you're going through Bates if you already have your EMT, as opposed to the opposite, where you're essentially putting your chances of getting hired on hold for two years if you do Bates (or any other Fire Science program) first. From a personal standpoint, I would hold off on getting a FS altogether until you have a few years on the job (when you're starting to think about promoting). The ONLY place I would really reccomend, if you want to stay on track is Chemekata Junior College in Salem, Oregon. They have a two year program that offers a Fire Science Degree, Firefighter 1/State Academy, EMT certification, and resident firefighter training program. I've heard their program is top notch - if it is a reasonable option for you, I would look into it. The only concern would be reciprocity for your EMT cert. If you get your National Registry EMT cert I believe you can apply for reciprocity to Washington State, but don't quote me on it. You'll have to follow up with them (and the Washington State Department of Health) for further information.
Regarding volunteering - I would look into it. But do your research. There are alot of really good places to volunteer out there. Conversely, there are alot of BAD departments to volunteer for. You don't want to be part of a culture that doesn't promote safety, provide adequate training, have bad politics/low morale or stress attention to detail/personal accountability. Their politics and culture become YOUR politics and culture! Other departments know about these places (the fire service is a very small community), and it may leave an impression you don't want - no matter how good of a candidate you are.
I would look into Gig Harbor Fire and Medic One, King County Fire District 20 (Skyway), North Kitsap Fire and Rescue, Getchell Fire District (Marysville), and North Highline Fire District. All have solid volunteer programs with a positive track records of people getting hired. There are lots of other places to look into too. DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Don't just sign up to volunteer at a place because it's close to home. Take some time, do some visits, be thorough in your research. Go to a place that will provide you with the best opportunity to improve your chances of getting hired. There are lots of departments that have "resident" programs, that will provide you with free room and board in a fire station, in exchange for a committment to pull a greater amount of shifts than a typical "out of district" or "home responder" volunteer program. Something to consider. I would wager that many people who have gotten hired were residents at some point in time. You can save alot of money, be immersed in fire service culture, and gain alot of good experience.
And finally (especially if you get on with a volunteer program) - Be VERY careful about taking advice from people who have NOT been hired, or are not even close. I would liken it to taking celibacy advice from a prostitute. Make sure your mentors walk the talk!
If you do volunteer, seek out and team up with other people who are SERIOUS about testing, and stick close to the pack. Make sure they're squared away, and hold eachother accountable. You can share alot of information and experience about the testing process, and it will help you to hone your testing skills. Choose these "study mates" wisely, you don't want to team up with people who will drag you down. It will pay huge dividends!
Last edited by powerhourcoug; 10-11-2008 at 04:28 AM.
10-11-2008, 03:10 PM #7
PHC covers a lot of what I would have to offer.
On one hand though, not everyone in private EMS is disgruntled....yet.
But almost anywhere you go, there is a "us and them" mentality between fire and a private EMS transport agency.
Having a Fire Science degree is one thing that looks great on a resume, as does a certified FFI Academy and all the "look at me!" certs that you can get.
You gotta get your foot in the door first.
How are your written test taking skills?
Do you take a great interview?
Are you jammed up in credit/debt?
Drugs and alcohol an issue?
Arrests (any and all can and will be found out in a background investigation regardless of sealed records or not)
Do you volunteer any free time? And if you do, is it because you want to or just that it looks good on paper?
A lot goes into the selection of a firefighter on both ends.
Be the person we want to have with us on the job.
Last edited by ffbam24; 10-11-2008 at 03:14 PM.
10-13-2008, 09:41 PM #8
- Join Date
- Sep 2005
Kyle, if you do your research on these boards you'll see Bam has alot of great things to say. He's a prime example of good things happening to good people, who do the right things to get hired. He volunteered at one of the departments I mentioned, and works for a great place now. Look for his posts - they will give you straight up, great information!
You can also see that there are an endless amount of things to consider regarding the hiring process. It's all about doing your homework, and then doing the footwork. Very few people just "walk into" getting offers. There is alot of great information (and alot of answers to your questions) on this particular board. Pre-employment stuff (background, credit, driving record, etc) is a whole 'nother can of worms. Try not to get overwhemled! Chew off one small bit at a time. Keep scrolling back pages and you'll find lots of great stuff.
Last edited by powerhourcoug; 10-13-2008 at 09:47 PM.
10-14-2008, 05:20 PM #9
LOL - None taken
Thanks for the kind words brother.
03-03-2010, 12:48 PM #10
Old thread but just in case someone finds this and is considering the Bates Technical College Fire Service program I am going to throw in my two cents.
It's an associate of technology degree in Fire Service, not Fire Science. Currently you do not obtain any certifications after two years of attending class for 6-7 hours per day Monday through Friday... there is however the option to test for FF1, Hazmat Awareness/Operations, after you've completed the entire 2 years...(so if you're considering the volunteer option I assure you it will save you a lot of time, going through a 3-6 month volunteer recruit academy vs. 2 year program) Bates does offer an EMT basic class, which is not included in the tuition you pay for Fire Service classes so you will have to pay additional $ to get your EMT cert.
The program is in the midst of a long overdue overhaul, switching from an hour to credit system... It looks like it's going to be a bumpy ride until it's all sorted out and my advice is to not waste your time and money while an archaic program attempts to recreate itself. Additional advice, do the research, consider all of your options. South Puget Sound Community College has a program (which does involve certificates/experience) Bellevue Community College has a program (Fire Science) and there are plenty of places to get your EMT (TCC, Pierce College, Bates, etc...) Plenty of Volunteer departments in the area will offer all of this and a lot more in much less time!
I will offer a positive for the program...you will typically know who is testing when/where because there are 30+ guys/gals (your classmates) all searching for their next test... My motto is to be your own PIO, don't rely on others to find the job openings. If you want it, go get it...best of luck.
Hope this helps future googlers of Bates Technical College Fire Service
Last edited by BC1979; 03-05-2010 at 02:01 AM.
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