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  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2009

    Default Fork in the road?????????

    Hey Guy's and Gal's! I need some advise. I am a 32 year old male and have been selected (first time trying) to go through a major city's 22 week fire academy next month. I believe I am physically and mentally ready for this challenge. This Fire Department has 23 stations and is located in the Southwest. The problem is that I am starting to get cold feet. I currently work for the U.S. Government as a civilian aircraft mechanic making around fifty thousand dollars a year with loads of benefits'. I have a total of twelve years towards retirement. This is an eight hour a day job with a federal holidays off and I am in charge of my own crew. I served in the United States Air Force in an Aero-medical Evacuation Squadron as a flying crew chief, so I have been around the medical field (this is why I want to be a firefighter). A rookie firefighter starts off in this Department making 41 thousand a year. I guess my question is: Would the veterans (not rookies or younger firefighters) looking at my situation, knowing what they know now about the fire service(i.e. hours, stress) , leave this job and join the Fire Department? Somebody please help! By the way, I have a strong wife that supports anything I do and a two year old child, so I am in the typical family man's financial situation. Any reply would be appreciated, the guys at my current job say I am crazy. I just would like to hear what the other side has to say.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    May 2009


    Man you either must have scored extremely well on the tests to get accepted first try, or your veteran status helped you.
    I am taking my first firefighter exam next spring, i can only hope i get the chance to have the opportunity you have ahead of you.


  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Rural Iowa


    Whats the upside long term with the career change to FF? Financially or whatever. You're 30+ starting out as an E-1 again with an employeer that likely (statistically) is on rocky financial ground (certainly check this out well as you'll be the 1st guy laid off when they have to cut the budget). In a job that has 50 guys competing for every available slot. If you go to FF and don't keep current in your current job would it be a viable fallback?

    If the feds lay you off as an A&P can likely at least find a decent (thought harder) job in the business aviation world. Airlines aren't going away.

    You have an itch to "play" medic find a moonlighting job (you're hardly busy working 40hr/wk) or better yet join a Vol. FD. Many would be delighted to have you.

    Or go reup in the guard/reserve. You're not going to find much better part-time pay than there.

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Aug 2007


    First off, congrats!


    Wow! No fire science, no academy, no civilian field experience, and walks onto a department on his first try. You should go buy a lotto ticket....

    Just giving ya a hard time.

  5. #5
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Big City, West Coast


    Congratulations again.

    IMHO the question you need to ask yourself is why did you test for fire in the first place? Did fire intrigue you because of the hours, image, pay, like watching Backdraft, want to do some paramedcal work, or do you just have the bug? If it is for any reason other than the last, you might want to think about things.

    Will you be content working on aircraft the rest of your life in a safe job, or take the risk and go fire. You might find out why most everyone describes the job as the best in the world. How many people say that about their jobs?

    Many of my classmates and I had good paying jobs with benefits before we got hired. I had my moments of doubt before and definitely during training, but have had absolutely no regrets.

    So, if your cold feet are just from leaving what you are secure with, that's ok. But, if you don't really know in your heart that this is what you want to do, think it over very carefully and keep asking questions.

    Hope this helps.

  6. #6
    Forum Member rhbieber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009



    Before leaving your current job, you need to know that firefighting is what you really want to do. Check out the documentary "A Firefighter's Journey" It's about a big city fire academy. Not only does it show what you will be facing in the academy, but also what you will be facing on the job. It is harsh and in your face. But it is absolutely truthful. After seeing the film, if you still want to be a firefighter, then the job is definitely for you. It has deterred many a candidate.

    Sorry for the shameless plug, but I think in your case, this film can be of great help.

    Good Luck!

    Rob Bieber
    Producer/Director: "A Firefighter's Journey"

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber ffbam24's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004


    Shameless plug? Maybe, maybe not

    Thing is, from the clips I watched, this video may be the most up to date and valuable of any out there on what most any academy is like.

    There is another one out there; "Test of Courage" that follows some folks applying, testing, failing, and succeeding at trying to get on with the Oakland Fire Deparment. I have no affiliation, but it was pretty good too.

    Re: OP. My advice is to think carefully about making such a switch. True this is the "best job in the world". But today's economy is keeping a lot of departments from hiring and many are considering and have performed layoffs and staffing reductions. You know how it is, last hired, first fired. But if you want to take a chance that isn't offered to many, go for it!

    Good luck,

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