1. #1
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    Default Jobs before Firefighting

    Hey everyone. First I would like to thank everyone for making this a great resource for the aspiring firefighter. This is my first post, but I have learned a great deal on this website.

    My question is pretty simple. What did you do before becoming a firefighter?

    I recently finished up college with a BA majoring in finance... I now work in the finance industry, and think it's time to follow my true dream of becoming a firefighter.

    I am going to start my EMT-B class at the local community college next quarter, but my current job hours conflict, so now I need to find something more suitable and something that will lend me valuable experience towards a firefighting career.

    I know that being hired as a firefighter is extremely tough and competition is fierce. That being said, I am in this for the long haul, and am going to do whatever it takes to earn my badge.

    After completing my EMT-B, I am looking in to working on a private ambulance. I have heard mixed thoughts about private ambulance, but I feel that this would be the best path for me to take, having no real firefighting experience.

    Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for all that you guys do everyday.

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    Bull,

    There are a lot of aspects to look at before you get too far as certain states, regions of the country having certain training/experience could help but it could also hinder you. For example. in KY here having a medical background in most places wont help you but I have a friend in TX that says anywhere if you want hired, the more medical background (having a Paramedic cert) puts you closer to the top.

  3. #3
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    I would say that if you want to be a fire fighter you should take fire fighting classes. If you want to work in the EMS field then take the EMT/Paramedic track.

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    I hope you are putting some money away to save up. You will not get rich doing this job, especially in the first few years after getting hired.

    You will be taking a tremendous pay cut wherever you start. And that doesn't include the money you will be shelling out to sign up for tests, travelling to take tests, interviews, physical agilities testing, medicals, etc.

    Starting pay at many departments is not conducive to supporting more than yourself.

    Look into other options for the EMT schooling. Hopefully there is more than one class and schedule that you can choose from that will work with your current job. It's a big jump and well worth it in the long run. Look before you leap.

    Good luck.

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    How about joining a vol. dept if you can? In my area the dept pays for your training and the classes are at nights 6pm start. Then yoy will get most of you classes done after your work hours. The same classes for EMT are like that as well. Night course offered by local tech school. If these options are available in your part of the country. We have had 3 guys get hired onto full time depts this way. But if you join a vol. dept, you should also commit to that dept so they get some return out of paying for most of your courses.
    "If I'm not back in five minutes.. wait longer."

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    I was a paste sommelier.
    Logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead.

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    Thanks for the fast replies... I have done a lot of research, but there is always more to do. I live in WA state, and most departments require EMT-B to apply. Most of these departments send you to their own fire Academy.

    I'm not exactly making the big bucks right now, and I have spent way to much on college as is. I am starting to pay back my student loans right now. From my research, it seems that the most logical first step would be to get my EMT-B as it will allow me to test a lot more places.
    I think that working for a private ambulance would be a great second step because it will give me valuable experience that I am greatly lacking, and will hopefully allow me time to test everywhere I can. (I know that some private ambulance companies in WA work shifts like firefighters 24/24).
    I also hope that working for a private ambulance will allow me to volunteer. The area I live in now is no longer volunteering, and is moving to all career.
    At my current job I work m-f 9am-6pm, and commute 40mins each way...

    I have been thinking very hard about what I want to do for the rest of my life (this wasn't an overnight thing), and now I cant see doing anything but becoming a firefighter. I am at the point in my life where I only have to support myself, so I feel like it is good timing. I feel I need to follow my heart.

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    If you can afford the pay cut, I would tell you to get a job that is hard work. A job that you are going to come home worn out and beat to the ground. Covered in dirt would help. Working outside in the elements would be a plus too.

    I feel that working with your hands and putting in a true hard day of work for a few years, will set you apart from the pack once you get hired. Going to school and getting training is great. Some departments dont look that much into past training. They want to train you their way. It all depends on the department. Learn what the departments you are going to apply for are looking for.

    Having a job that works with your hands will teach you mechanical skills and help to keep you in shape. you cannot learn these skills in a classroom. After work you can learn the book knowledge by going to classes.

    Lastly the biggest pay off for in my opinon, is that no matter how crappy a day you are having in the firehouse. You can look back and say well the is better then when i was building a retaining wall in 100+ temps.

    Firefighting is a blue collar trade profession. Dont try to treat it as a white collar office job.

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    Cool My Jobs.....

    Ok, well here it goes.....

    Worked on a Bird Farm: Scraped crap off the Trays that stopped the birds from crapping on the other cages, fed about 1,000 chukkar/quineas/pheasants and helped A.I. pigs.

    Worked in a Hospital: Restocking the Pyxus Machines.

    Worked for my Cousin's Construction Company: Framing, digging ditches, installing Sprinkler Systems, clean-up

    Worked for my Uncle's Construction Company: Driving and delivering water.

    Worked for my Buddie's Dad's Roofing Company: Hot tarring Commercial Roofs.

    Worked in a Pet Store.

    Worked on a Private Ambulance.

    Huh...... I know there's more........ But old age is catching-up to me.....
    Last edited by mikeyboy; 11-24-2009 at 06:10 PM. Reason: Had a "Brain Fart....."
    "Be LOUD, Be PROUD..... It just might save your can someday when goin' through an intersection!!!!!"

    Life on the Truck (Quint) is good.....

    Eat til you're sleepy..... Sleep til you're hungry..... And repeat.....

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    so you're saying I should work for a pet store? Thanks! haha just playing. Thanks for your post. I definitely have a lot of thinking to do.

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    What part of WA state?
    I may have some leads if you're in a certain area.

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    tacoma area

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    You might want to get your paramedic soon after getting your EMT-B. I got a buddy of mine that is going through the Charlotte Academy at this time, He had only a few years on a vollie dept.,but he has been a paramedic for the past 4 years. He showed up in shape and did real well on his entrance test and in a few weeks he going to be a ff on a great dept.

    By the way, like the name, just remember the older the bull the stiffer the horns.
    Best of luck.

    Stay Safe
    Bull
    Stay Safe
    Bull


    “Guys if you get hurt, we’ll help you. If you get sick we’ll treat you. If you want to bitch and moan, then all I can tell you is to flick the sand out of your slit, suck it up or get the hell out!”
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    Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.
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    5 Years in the military, 9 months on the oil rigs. One thing that may have helped me in my career was I was cross trained as a medic in the military. We took over EMS shortly after I joined so getting my EMT P was pretty easy.

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    Talking

    I have a bachelors degree in Mass Communication (with an emphasis in radio, television and film no less). I spent eight years working various newspaper jobs before deciding that working for the fire dept. would be better than covering it.

    I've found that almost any previous experience is helpful on my shift -- as long as we maintain a variety. Having guys with different backgrounds keeps us well rounded and means we have at least one expert for every situation... or at least somebody that thinks they are. :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny46 View Post
    I was a paste sommelier.
    White paste? Did you follow the rules?
    IAFF

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScareCrow57 View Post
    I would say that if you want to be a fire fighter you should take fire fighting classes. If you want to work in the EMS field then take the EMT/Paramedic track.
    i disagree ten fold. Having your emt or paramedic is just as important nowadays. Most departments im looking at applying to in the next couple months require you to have your emt-b cert as well as firefighter 1. If its convenient for him to take emt first theres nothing wrong with it. He will probably need it anyway.

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    Originally Posted by johnny46
    I was a paste sommelier.
    Originally Posted by Snowball
    White paste? Did you follow the rules?
    Damn... coffee all over my monitor again....

    Originally Posted by ScareCrow57
    I would say that if you want to be a fire fighter you should take fire fighting classes. If you want to work in the EMS field then take the EMT/Paramedic track.
    Originally Posted by Chenzo
    i disagree ten fold. Having your emt or paramedic is just as important nowadays. Most departments im looking at applying to in the next couple months require you to have your emt-b cert as well as firefighter 1. If its convenient for him to take emt first theres nothing wrong with it. He will probably need it anyway.
    Don't listen to Scarecrow. He's a "self annointed authority of anything and everything". Read his posts onother threads and find out for yourself.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Back on track.. jobs before the FD...

    Junior High and High School: I delivered newspapers, washed dishes and waited tables in a restaurant, sold shoes in a department store and played bass guitar in a rock band.

    Went to college for a year, had to drop out due to extenuating circumstances.

    I then got a job working for a paper products manufacturing company. They made paper tubes for everything from coat hangers to construction forms. Made enough money to buy a car and go back to college.

    College: worked part time at a pet store, Worked summers for a pest control company and played bass guitar in a rock band and for a theatrical group.

    After college: worked for the pest control company, worked part time for a cable TV station doing production and direction, and worked at a radio station in sales.

    I was appointed to the FD in 1981, promoted to Lieutenant in 1988, to Captain in 2000 and to Deputy Chief in 2007.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Straight from School..... joined at 18. Although in hindsight wish I'd have travelled or gone into the Military first.

    MInd you, can you even join the job under 21 in the USA?
    Steve Dude
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    Farmboy while growing up. Went to a two year technical school to become an automobile technician. Became an ASE Master Technician in 1990. Did that for several years before changing to a job working on hydraulic presses and robots. Moved from that to self-employment, running my own auto repair shop. Did some satellite installation and repair on the side throughout the entire time, as well as residential and commercial construction (still work residential construction on the side today). Entered the county volunteer fire service in 1992. Went to work for the city fire department (where I work today) in 1999 part time...full time in 2000. Promoted to Lieutenant in 2008. Currently in college to finish my Associates in Fire Protection...hope to graduate in 2010.

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    Oh gee....the jobs I've had (that I can remember)
    Delivered papers while in school
    Dish washer/Cook/Waitress
    Live in caretaker/Pet sitter
    Groom/trainer on horse farm(s)
    EMT for paid service
    Dispatcher for local FD/EMS
    Assisted in fathers business of construction consulting
    Auto parts delivery driver/counter person
    County dispatcher for PD, then for EMS/FD

    Still dabble in other things - antiques dealer, retail sales, horse training.....consulting.....

    Didn't join the FD though.....went a little further than that and work in State Government Fire Service instead.......volunteered along the way too, for about 19 years.

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    Thanks everyone for sharing, I really appreciate it. Like I said, I am in the very beginning process, and I will keep you all posted on my endeavors.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScareCrow57 View Post
    I would say that if you want to be a fire fighter you should take fire fighting classes. If you want to work in the EMS field then take the EMT/Paramedic track.
    I would say if you WANT to get HIRED do both. T.C.

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    Gonzo,you didn't learn your trade real well.If you're experienced in pest control; WHY is Scarecrow still here? Been a mechanic since I could lug a wrench.Heavy equipment operator,low bed operator,rigger for same company,welder,over the road driver,Tow truck operator and long time firefighter now Deputy(Asst) Chief.
    Last edited by Rescue101; 11-30-2009 at 02:09 PM.

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