1. #1

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    Default Questions about FF vs. Medic in Reserves/Guard in CA

    I'm a 28 year old Marine Corps veteran living in Northern CA. I've been in graphic design and printing for the last 3 years. While successful at it, I'm not passionate about it by a long shot. My brother in law is a fire captain and always talks about how awesome his job is, and he's right. I just did a 12 hour ride along with him and his team and I'm convinced that this is what I want to do.

    He's emphasising the paramedicine side of things, stressing that a paramedic cert is more important that a fire academy cert, but every job posting I'm seeing is requiring a fire academy graduation to even apply. Some require paramedic as well as a fire academy.

    Long story short, I was thinking of going back in the military, on the reserve or guard side this time because in this economy I hesitate to give up my job and I would like to have some say in where I get stationed.

    So my debate is, do I go Army Reserve as a medic or Air Guard/Army Reserve as a firefighter? The Army medic training certifies you to NREMT-B, but trains you above that level and would make getting EMT-P easier. I would still have to put myself through a fire academy or apply to a dept. that will send me through one.

    The DOD Fire Academy certs, as far as I know, are accepted pretty much everywhere but California, or am I wrong? I would still have to pick up EMT-B then EMT-P, but would have to look for work in a state that accepts the DOD certs.

    I think as a medic in the Army, I would have better opportunities for training beyond EMT-B, and it would probably be easier to get a job for AMR or something while I look for a city fire job. But if I go the firefighter route, I could pick up EMT-B in a month's worth of classes and *hopefully* get a FF/EMT-B job out of state.

    Any and all advice would be appreciated.

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    I was a medic with the Army when they first switched to required their medics to maintain the NREMT-B certs. Although that would be great experience, I'm not sure how much it would actually help you in becoming a firefighter. Army medics are trained in a way that doesn't easily fit into the civilian side. They have some training that equals civilian paramedics (IVs and push drugs - some without a doctor's orders). I usually compare them to a very specialized trauma medic. However, most FF/EMTs see mostly medical, compared to trauma. Unfortunately, the Army's program trains their medics with the medical stuff, but it is never practiced unless you're active duty assigned to a med/surg type floor of a hospital. Yes, it does put you one step closer to getting your Paramedic, but I think getting your FF certs would be a bigger step. Re: AMR or the such... yes, you'll be able to get a job, but ambulance companies don't pay well at all in CA, esp since they know most people are doing it just to until they can get hired by a FD. Expect less than $10/hr. Also, check into your area regarding any County certifications. I know certain counties in CA used to require you to get certified in their county also. I hope this has changed by now, but I don't know.

    I believe the Guard/Reserve FF program trains you in HAZMAT Awareness and Ops and also gives you a first responder status (maybe even Airport FF?). You'll probably be able to find an EMT-B program on the civilian side much cheaper than a FF 1/2 program since you won't have to buy/rent all the turnout equipment. Check with CA to find out if they'll accept the DoD certs or at least allow you to test without having to take another course.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jm11324 View Post
    I'm a 28 year old Marine Corps veteran living in Northern CA. I've been in graphic design and printing for the last 3 years. While successful at it, I'm not passionate about it by a long shot. My brother in law is a fire captain and always talks about how awesome his job is, and he's right. I just did a 12 hour ride along with him and his team and I'm convinced that this is what I want to do.

    He's emphasising the paramedicine side of things, stressing that a paramedic cert is more important that a fire academy cert, but every job posting I'm seeing is requiring a fire academy graduation to even apply. Some require paramedic as well as a fire academy.

    Long story short, I was thinking of going back in the military, on the reserve or guard side this time because in this economy I hesitate to give up my job and I would like to have some say in where I get stationed.

    So my debate is, do I go Army Reserve as a medic or Air Guard/Army Reserve as a firefighter? The Army medic training certifies you to NREMT-B, but trains you above that level and would make getting EMT-P easier. I would still have to put myself through a fire academy or apply to a dept. that will send me through one.

    The DOD Fire Academy certs, as far as I know, are accepted pretty much everywhere but California, or am I wrong? I would still have to pick up EMT-B then EMT-P, but would have to look for work in a state that accepts the DOD certs.

    I think as a medic in the Army, I would have better opportunities for training beyond EMT-B, and it would probably be easier to get a job for AMR or something while I look for a city fire job. But if I go the firefighter route, I could pick up EMT-B in a month's worth of classes and *hopefully* get a FF/EMT-B job out of state.

    Any and all advice would be appreciated.
    CA is not an IFSAC state (IFSAC being the certification accreditation behind the DoD fire certifications). Even if you joined up and went to the DoD fire Academy, you would still have to attend a state fire academy to obtain basic CA state certifications, and you would need to attend a National Registry paramedic course or a state paramedic course. You will also have to test for whatever county you are applying in for your EMT-P. Each county in CA have thier own rules and regulations regarding emergency medical services.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zzyyzx View Post
    Yes, it does put you one step closer to getting your Paramedic, but I think getting your FF certs would be a bigger step. Re: AMR or the such... yes, you'll be able to get a job, but ambulance companies don't pay well at all in CA, esp since they know most people are doing it just to until they can get hired by a FD. Expect less than $10/hr.
    Wow, that's surprisingly low. That would be a serious pay cut, and I don't make a ton of money to begin with.

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    I am in California, and what is said above is mostly correct. We are not IFSAC so our DOD certs are worthless here. With the exception of FFI. FFI is given to you after your cheif sends in paperwork to the state. So if you look at the CSFM Program Manual on their website you will see that the chief has the discretion to take your FFI from the DOD and then give you the new paperwork with his signature for the CA FFI. This is the only exception. There is talk about some changes and possible IFSAC, but that is LONG way away. The state is in turmoil right now and there has been a huge change of personnel in the state fire training office.

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    Brother, joining the Guard/Reserve just to get EMT-B is a bit extreme. EMT-B will take only one semester of college, which is a lot shorter than the Army medic training and the subsequent 18 month mobilization.
    If you think you might go out of CA to an IFSAC state, you could join the USMCR as a 7051 ARFF. That will get you the DoD/IFSAC FFII, ARFF, and Hazmat Ops. MWSS 473 has billets in Miramar and Fresno.

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    Why join the Marines to be a firefighter when you can join the Air Guard or Air Force Reserve to be a firefighter?

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    Quote Originally Posted by XFedFF View Post
    Why join the Marines to be a firefighter when you can join the Air Guard or Air Force Reserve to be a firefighter?
    Because he is a former active duty Marine-read his first post. The USMCR only has 3 units with FFs, one happens to be in CA. Maybe he was not aware of the option.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnyv View Post
    Because he is a former active duty Marine-read his first post. The USMCR only has 3 units with FFs, one happens to be in CA. Maybe he was not aware of the option.
    Thanks for the reply Gunny, but I used to work with a WM who was a CFR Marine in Fresno, and last thing I heard, was sent to MP school because they shut down her unit. I might have heard wrong, but Fresno isn't too far from me.

    Can anyone tell me what states do accept IFSAC? I'm not too far from Nevada and have lived in Colorado and TX and am not opposed to going to any of them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jm11324 View Post
    Thanks for the reply Gunny, but I used to work with a WM who was a CFR Marine in Fresno, and last thing I heard, was sent to MP school because they shut down her unit. I might have heard wrong, but Fresno isn't too far from me.
    Last I heard there were a few SMCR CFR Marines in Fresno, but the majority are at Miramar.

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    Thanks for the help!

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    Quote Originally Posted by XFedFF View Post
    Why join the Marines to be a firefighter when you can join the Air Guard or Air Force Reserve to be a firefighter?
    I'm open to all branches. As I understand it, Marines primarily do CFR or ARFF. That's cool, but I'm interested in all aspects, structural, wildland, etc.

    I know the Air Guard and AF Reserve will be more like civilian agencies, but I've had a hard time getting an Air Guard or AF Reserve recruiter on the phone. They seem like they're not interested in me. One recruiter I talked to told me that prior service Marines only get jobs like Pararescue or CCT. I told him I only wanted Fire Protection. Didn't seem interested in helping me out.

    I'd be willing to join the Army Reserve if I could figure out if there are any units in CA or Northern NV. I've googled, but can't find any good info on Army Guard or Reserve FF units in my area and the Army recruiters are less than helpful, always pushing me toward medic jobs. But if I knew for a fact there was a FF unit in say, Irvine, I could call the unit and confirm they have FFs and openings and walk into the recruiter armed with that info and not leave until he gives me what I want.

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    The California National Guard has a FFT in Roseville, 233rd Eng Det. I just enlisted and am shipping to basic in August. The unit is over strength and they had to give me a para/lin to reserve a training spot. I called the SSG every few months to see if they had an opening and when they finally did I was asked to drill with them for a weekend. The SSG had to write a letter saying I would be an asset.
    It is possible you just have to find a recruiter that will help and you will have to do a lot of leg work. That being said...I was the only FF the recruiter had placed in 5 years and I dont know if the unit needs anymore guys. Good Luck Oh and the army changed the mos to 12m

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