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  1. #1
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    Question What would you do - DoD or City FD?

    Let me give you a bit of background on us -
    My husband is an Army Firefighter at Fort Rucker right now working on the medivac crew as a backseater/firefighter. He has 1 yr and 6 months left of his 5 year contract and we are not staying in the Army. He is 33 yrs old and has firefighter 1 & 2, EMT basic and may be able to get paramedic (dont know how likely paramedic will be) .

    We are struggling with which way to go. He wants to get a firefighter job and we are totally open to location. If he goes right into DoD (easily done around here) he could stay here and continue at the stage fields at Fort Rucker or we can get a transfer to another base and do FF there. Option two would be to start applying to city firedepartments and go that route.

    We are really torn as to what we want to do, what would you do. What are the pros and cons of each of those two options that you have experience with?

    One major factor is his age and retirement. If he stays and goes on with DoD we can buy back his 5 yrs of active duty and put that towards his retirement with the DoD. If we go city we are starting back at zero.

    Thanks for any input!
    Kristina


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    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    I was a DoD Firefighter for just a hare under 10 years. 4 for the Dept of the Navy and 6 for the Dept of the Army. I had to get out of the DoD for several reasons. It's not a bad way to break into the career fire service, but in my opinion, with today's costs of living, versus the 72 hour work week, it's not for everyone.

    For example, I live in Pa. in between New York and Philly. The cost of living here is above average, and property taxes are very high (the trade off is I live in a great community and an outstanding school district.) Therefore, my wife has to work a full time job as well. As a result, the kids have to go to daycare (another expense but we wont go into that....) After we had our second child, days that I had to go to the firehouse became physically exhausting and mentally challenging for her. Compare the Federal Firefighter work schedule to 30 years ago. It was a great way to make a living with great benefits and salary. Wife could stay at home and raise the kids. Costs of living were way cheaper. Not a problem. Do I recommend it to 2-salary family with children? No way. A single guy?? Absolutely!

    You have to do your own cost/benefit analysis. Weigh the pros and cons also. A pro to going to a municipal FD- more action? Perhaps. I saw a LOT of good work where I was a Federal FF, but I also know Federal FF's that either have not seen fire in years, or instead of counting the number of runs they get in a year, they count the number of years in between a run.

    Also you have to consider that the Dept of Defense (just like everyone else) is cutting back. Especially the Dept of the Navy. Navy jobs are a little hard to come by on the east coast right now.

    Thats just my point of view, I am sure others will chime in. 24 on/24 off SUCKS! I never minded the 24 hour shift, but the coming or going every day got old after the 4th year, nevermind the fact that some guys I worked with did it for 20, 25 or 30 years!!!
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Do like the rest of us, get on with a DoD department and then go for a city or county. Please remember, cities and counties are not that easy to get on. It takes time and practice. I promise you, he wont land a job with a muni department right away.

    Get on a DoD department, get some expereince and then move up to a muni.

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    Not true kimosabe, I was hired on with a city dept. (and no not a middle of no where city or anything like that) on my very first try and I was even 5 mins late to the interview due to coming from out of town and getting lost. It's not as hard as people make it out to be as long as you are confident in yourself and your abilities. On the other hand, the hiring process for any dept is going to be long, so if he has a job lined up with DoD then def. take it and start applying everywhere he can until he is on.

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    I've been a Firefighter in the Navy, DoD and with a City. I was able to buy back my Military time also with the City. I think that there needs to be a sit down with both of you and figure out which way to go. I loved it as a Federal Firefighter and also with the City. There could be more money in it if you go the City route (in most cases).
    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley
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    What is a DoD?

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    MembersZone Subscriber ffbam24's Avatar
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    DoD (Department of Defense)

    Military bases and federal land fire suppression.

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    Thanks guys for all the input and advise! I think what is so tough is that we have nothing holding us back as far as what state we want to be in so that really opens many fire departments up to us if we go city. DoD here at Rucker does not see much action at all. My husband is on the medivac crew and they get the most action from a few hard landing and several actual crashes over the past 3 yrs. The thing he is SO smart and SO good at what he does that I hate for him to just sit around not using his ability to help others. He says he loves being able to be a firefighter but he isnt excited to go running into burning bldgs. I hope you understand what he means by that.
    We do have 3 children so the pay is certainly an issue as well as the schedule. We have friends here that are DoD that do the 24 on 24 off and there is NO way we could handle that!!
    I think his main motivation for wanting to go DoD was because of buying back time into his retirement NOW if he could do that at a municiple level I think we would be full force ahead!!
    I will be looking into that aspect and seeing if I can get more info on that to help us make our decision.

    Such huge life altering decisions so we are trying to do our research!! Im more the computer savey one so Im doing the finger work at this point! haha.

    Thanks again all!
    Kristina

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    Quote Originally Posted by phase96 View Post
    It's not as hard as people make it out to be as long as you are confident in yourself and your abilities.
    It takes a lot more preparation than just being confident in yourself and your abilities. And being late to an interview? I won't even get started on that - there are too many ways to make sure something like that doesn't happen. I've tested with 14 departments over the past 2 and a half years and it is only now that I'm close to being hired. And now factoring in the state of the economy, its gotten so much harder. There is an immense amount of resources out there that you should utilize to give yourself the best chance possible of getting hired. It's all about committing yourself to and preparing for each and every single step of the process. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Good luck in your endeavors.

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    Smile

    I totally agree with fully preparing yourself. The point I was making is that instead of just giving one sided advice "I promise he won't get on with a muni. right away" is the wrong thing to do. While it may be very hard for one person, he should not let it discourage him in any way because he may be one of the few that can smoke the test and the interview on his first or second try and be a firefighter within the next year. And as far as my being late to the interview, you don't know the situation or what kind of notice I gave that I would be tardy and I was only using that as an example to back up my initial point. But best of luck to you.
    Last edited by phase96; 06-12-2009 at 10:33 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phase96 View Post
    Not true kimosabe, I was hired on with a city dept. (and no not a middle of no where city or anything like that) on my very first try and I was even 5 mins late to the interview due to coming from out of town and getting lost. It's not as hard as people make it out to be as long as you are confident in yourself and your abilities. On the other hand, the hiring process for any dept is going to be long, so if he has a job lined up with DoD then def. take it and start applying everywhere he can until he is on.
    phase- Good job then. You are in the less then 1% to pull this off. The rest of us had to start from the bottom and work our way up.

    Please remember with the muni FDs, you need to meet their local/state reqs. California has their own, NV, AZ, FL, etc. The best thing to do is pick the place you want to live, settle down and then focus on that local.
    Last edited by CALFFBOU; 06-02-2009 at 01:27 PM.

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    Does anyone know where we can find out what type of cert his fire 1 and 2 is? Its through the college of the air force. That may narrow our state choices down when we figure that out!!

    So as far as preping for the interview.. should he be reading a specific book or what do you suggest as far as prep goes.

    We have a year and 6 months left and we were figuring out starting to apply a year out... is that resonable?

  13. #13
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    Interviews are arguably the most important step of the process with most fire departments that use them. However, there are fire departments that do not use an interview as part of the process. But I would recommend "Smoke Your Firefighter Interview" by Paul Lepore. You can get it from amazon.com or his website at aspiringfirefighters.com. I've used it for the past year and improved my score by 30 points. There are also plenty of other good resources that you can find through google.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kristmatt View Post
    Does anyone know where we can find out what type of cert his fire 1 and 2 is? Its through the college of the air force. That may narrow our state choices down when we figure that out!!
    Most likely they are IFSAC certs. You can verify and get free copies of all of his certs here- www.dodffcert.com

    So as far as preping for the interview.. should he be reading a specific book or what do you suggest as far as prep
    Captain Bob also has some good stuff in book and CD format. I highly recommend the CD. His website is- www.eatstress.com

    We have a year and 6 months left and we were figuring out starting to apply a year out... is that reasonable?
    I have been telling people here to figure out where you want to work and live first. Then focus on that specific area's reqs. If you like Texas, look up the state's info at the Fire Marshall's office. Every state is different and California does not accept DoD/IFSAC and ProBoard certs.

    Hope this helps.....Bou

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    Quote Originally Posted by FootballFire View Post
    What is a DoD?
    Department of Defense

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    Yup your right they are IFSAC! Thankyou! That will help us narrow our states down based on the accredidation.

    We are basically willing to move just about anywhere once his contract is up so I hope that plays in our favor. He will be leaving the Army with

    FF 1 and 2
    Hazmat
    Airport
    ARF Driver
    EMT -B (at least , hopefully more!)

    He also has a background prearmy in Haz Mat so hopefully that helps to!

    Thanks all for all the info and direction!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kristmatt View Post
    Thanks guys for all the input and advise! I think what is so tough is that we have nothing holding us back as far as what state we want to be in so that really opens many fire departments up to us if we go city. DoD here at Rucker does not see much action at all. My husband is on the medivac crew and they get the most action from a few hard landing and several actual crashes over the past 3 yrs. The thing he is SO smart and SO good at what he does that I hate for him to just sit around not using his ability to help others. He says he loves being able to be a firefighter but he isnt excited to go running into burning bldgs. I hope you understand what he means by that.
    We do have 3 children so the pay is certainly an issue as well as the schedule. We have friends here that are DoD that do the 24 on 24 off and there is NO way we could handle that!!
    I think his main motivation for wanting to go DoD was because of buying back time into his retirement NOW if he could do that at a municiple level I think we would be full force ahead!!
    I will be looking into that aspect and seeing if I can get more info on that to help us make our decision.

    Such huge life altering decisions so we are trying to do our research!! Im more the computer savey one so Im doing the finger work at this point! haha.

    Thanks again all!
    Kristina
    So your husband wants to get off the base and see more action, but doesn't want to fight interior fires? So is he more interested in the EMS side? MVA's and Rescue? Unfortunately fighting fire is part of the job. Bigger cities have more opportunities to get on a box (ambulance) and run medical and stay there, granted it may cost him promotions, every city is different, obviously.

    A lot of smaller nicer areas will usually pay better, but that also means less calls, less action 9 times out of 10, but not always.

    I started in Gulfport, MS with no experience making 26K plus OT and crappy insurance. They put me through the academy. I left there after 2.5 years, IFSAC FF1001-II, EMT-B. Got a lot of experience, training, about 15 fires i would call a fire, not just a pot on the stove, a lot of good wrecks, full arrests, gun shots the whole nine yards. To me i ran too many medical calls and not enough fires, but i'd rather fight fire than take a Blood Pressure and give Oxygen.

    I live now in San Antonio and work for a small city just north of SA. I make 34K plus great benefits, but I havent run a call in 2 shifts and will probably never fight fire here. It's all about what you want. I wont stay here forever because I am going crazy not doing anything.

    Most calls in the Fire Service now are medical but fortunately there are still big city dept's that fight alot of fire. Houston, FDNY, Baltimore, New Orleans (dont' go there), I think Philly and D.C. get some good fires too.

    I plan to go to Houston this summer when they hold their next certified exam and I am contemplating Baltimore because I love the East Coast, The Orioles, and they have a lot of action for their size.

    As far as schedule, every dept. has differences. Both I've worked at have a 24 on 48 off rotation. Houston for example has 4 shifts so they work 24 on 24 off 24 on and then off for 5 days. Baltimore, i believe, works two 10 hr day shifts, two 14 hr night shifts then off for 4 days.

    A lot of places are hurting right now and arent hiring. Here in Texas it doesn't seem to be as big of a problem as in a lot of other places thankfully.

    Pay is a different story. San Antonio, starting pay after the academy is roughly 46K and bumps up to 51k after probation. There are some smaller cities around Dallas that start off at anywhere from 45K to in the high 50's but they also require more schooling and some require ALS certification. From what I've been told about Baltimore is that pay during your academy is in the Mid to high 30's and jumps up the to 50's upon completion of the academy in which you are a certified FF and Paramedic.

    I hope some of this helps you, probably more than you ever wanted to read. Good luck to you and your husband.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by CALFFBOU View Post
    phase- Good job then. You are in the less then 1% to pull this off. The rest of us had to start from the bottom and work our way up.

    Please remember with the muni FDs, you need to meet their local/state reqs. California has their own, NV, AZ, FL, etc. The best thing to do is pick the place you want to live, settle down and then focus on that local.
    No department around here would even let you in the room to have an interview if you were 5 minutes late.

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    Lol, you have no idea what you are talking about guy. The reason I know this is because the dept. I am talking about is the same one that you almost made the cut for, so obviously a dept. would let me in. I had to turn down the job offer because I was still in the military so I am back to square one just like everyone else, and as I said before you don't know what the situation was or how far ahead of time I let them know I was going to be late. I didn't just walk into the interview and say sorry I'm late and come up with a lame excuse as to why I was late, there was a legit reason for it. So you really shouldn't speak on something if you don't know what you are talking about.


    "phase- Good job then. You are in the less then 1% to pull this off. The rest of us had to start from the bottom and work our way up."

    Uhh, not sure where you think I have to start but it's for sure at the bottom with everyone else.
    Last edited by phase96; 06-11-2009 at 03:47 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kristmatt View Post
    Yup your right they are IFSAC! Thankyou! That will help us narrow our states down based on the accredidation.
    Have I let you down yet? Bou always comes through baby!

    Quote Originally Posted by phase96 View Post
    Not true kimosabe, I was hired on with a city dept. (and no not a middle of no where city or anything like that) on my very first try and I was even 5 mins late to the interview due to coming from out of town and getting lost.
    Quote Originally Posted by phase96 View Post
    I had to turn down the job offer because I was still in the military so I am back to square one just like everyone else,
    Quote Originally Posted by phase96 View Post
    Uhh, not sure where you think I have to start but it's for sure at the bottom with everyone else.
    Listen here...First you tell the story of you being late and the board still letting you in and getting hired and "it can be done". And now you are telling us you did not get the badge/job? So you didnt really do it? And you got lost because you didnt know the city? NO EXCUSE. I have tested in totally strange cities before GPS and MapQuest and was still early.

    Here is some smart advice, do NOT tell that story anymore. You did not pull off anything except be late and not get hired.

    Next- Some of us have gotten the DoD badge, put in our time and then moved on to muni departments. Until you have, please do not challenge us or come in here giving advice. You are not in the position to from my angle.

    If you are starting at the bottom, please be quiet and listen. You might pick up a few tricks. Like the link I posted above showing where you can get your DoD certs online, for free.

    Bou
    Last edited by CALFFBOU; 06-11-2009 at 11:56 PM.

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