Thread: College...

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    Hey Guys,
    My name is Adam and I am new to these forums. I am currently a student at Cincinnati State Tech and Comm College and I have a few questions that I could not think of a better place to ask. First off I started school in the Information Tech field which I am good at but I feel I would rather keep it as a hobby. I have decided to stop dumping my money into a lost cause. I have decided that I want to be a Firefighter. I have friends that are fireman, I practically spent my childhood in a fire dept. Heck even my Boy Scout Master is a Lt. at the local fire station. But anyway my real question is what is the most successful path to making my dream career a reality. I know many of you say its not for everyone and so on but I have decided its where i belong and I need the guidance of people who are already in the position I want to be in. My options it appears to me is A. Cincy States Fire Service Tech program (which certifies me as emt and firefighter II in Ohio) B. A local Vocational School Butler Tech which I have heard good things about and it gives the same certifications. I am just not sure what the smartest route would be. Thanks.

    *Sorry For the word wall*

    -Adam

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    I don't know how things work or are in Ohio, but I'll give you the same advise I give aspiring firefighters around here.

    First of all, get an education. If you need your FF I and I and EMT to get a job in Ohio, so be it. However, don't just forego a college degree. Even if it's an associates in general ed as opposed to fire science, work toward that degree. It's not going to hurt you later in life, and it's likely going to help during your career.

    There's been an trend toward requiring at least an associates degree for supervisory positions in a lot of regions, and a bachelors for administrative positions. My career department is to the point that they're requiring an associates for captain and above, then a bachelors for deputy chief and chief. There are a lot of guys that are scrambling trying to get those degrees finished so that they can promote, myself included.

    If you get even a basic AA in gen-ed, you're well on your way to whatever specialized degree you may need. Whether it be an AA in fire science, public admin, or whatever, you're well on your way. Even if you need a BA, you're about halfway there.

    If you want to get your certifications/licenses and start testing, I've never seen a problem with it. But use that time you're looking for a job to work on that degree, too.

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    I agree with Catch22. I don't know anything about the schools there, but if they're the same degree to a T, pick the one you like and get on it. Get the little piece of paper. I've noticed many departments around here that require college hours over certifications, and even though you may be certified will send you back through an academy because they want you trained a certain way, by certain people. Look around and see what most of the departments are requiring. Some will pay for your school and your salary while you get FF/EMT/Medic certs.

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    Catch 22's advice is right on. Get your education. If you have a problem with your major, change it. But absolutely get your degree.

    Applying for and getting a FF job, besides having an uncertain outcome, will be a painstakingly slow process. A process that can be completed while you are in school. You need to have a contingency plan in case the FF career doesn't work out.

    You will not regret getting your education.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    First and foremost, as I'm sure you've read on the forums already, keep a clean background. No matter how good you are and what you do to prepare, if you're background is full of black marks, it won't matter.

    Now, assuming that is all good, look around and figure out what area you'd like to work in. I believe the Columbus area trains (i.e. pays for it and pays you) all their new firefighters with FF1&2, so if you had those already it wouldn't be a huge selling point. But if the area you like requires it, that's a must. As for the rest of your education, I'd get a well rounded degree in something you enjoy. Below the Chief/Admin level, the type of degree isn't as important as having a degree. Usually for the upper ranks, they'll have Executive Fire Officer courses or Masters in Public Admin or the likes. But that also varies by dept.

    Once you find the area you want to work in... start testing now. If you're lucky enough to get hired quickly, the process will probably take around a year. Not many depts are hiring now, so it is a numbers game. A list may be good for 2 years and they may only hire 1 or 2 people off it. That's also why they can be selective with backgrounds right now. Just make a commitment to yourself to finish your education in your first 5 years if you're lucky enough to get hired right away. A lot of depts give a financial incentive if you have a degree, so that's another plus.

    If you haven't already, check out Capt Bob's program (www.eatstress.com) and Chief Lepore's book (www.aspiringfirefighters.com). Both are helpful programs and since you have the time now, they should be very helpful in the processes.

    And finally, don't get discouraged. This can be quite a long process. Many people test dozens of times over years and never get hired. There are those lucky people that test once and get hired, but you don't see that much anymore.

    Good luck!

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    I forgot to mention...

    You do not have to BUY anything to become a FF. No matter how much certain purveyors of books, tapes, cd's magic potions, whatever try to convince you that you will NEVER get hired unless you buy their snake oil.

    Remember, hundreds of thousands of fire fighters have been hired without purchasing a single book or tape.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Very true. I bought Chief Lepore's book (Amazon was cheapest at the time) and signed up for CaptBob's free emails. I found it helpful since I was testing with virtually no fire background. CaptBob's program seemed to be good all around interview tips. I liked the book since it not only gave me sample questions, but also reasoning behind the answers from a fire dept point of view.

    Did either of those programs get me hired or take me from a zero to hero? No, definitely not and I definitely agree with George that plenty of people get hired without ever spending a cent on a program. But for me, I think that those programs, combined with my own background and experience, helped get me hired. Could I have done it without them? Probably eventually. But I was the only person hired off a 300 person list, so it was worth the investment to me.
    Last edited by zzyyzx; 01-04-2010 at 09:59 AM. Reason: spelling

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    Duplicate post, sorry
    Last edited by zzyyzx; 01-04-2010 at 09:57 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zzyyzx View Post
    Very true. I bought Chief Lepore's book (Amazon was cheapest at the time) and signed up for CaptBob's free emails. I found it helpful since I was testing with virtually no fire background. CaptBob's program seemed to be good all around interview tips. I liked the book since it not only gave me sample questions, but also reasoning behind the answers from a fire dept point of view.

    Did either of those programs get me hired or take me from a zero to hero? No, definitely not and I definitely agree with George that plenty of people get hired without ever spending a cent on a program. But for me, I think that those programs, combined with my own background and experience, helped get me hired. Could I have done it without them? Probably eventually. But I was the only person hired off a 300 person list, so it was worth the investment to me.
    The investment in the books did not get you hired. You got you hired.

    Too many young kids lose sight of this. Maturity and confidence will get you the job, not a bunch of canned responses from a book or tape.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Not sure if it has been mentioned yet, but volunteering can look very good on a resume. You mentioned you grew up in a department, and you know a Lt. (Not sure if he is career or volunteer), that could put you a little ahead of the pack. And could you possibly be an Eagle Scout?

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    Education; go for it. The longer you put it off, the less likely you are to go back and get it. At least get an associates degree before dedicating your life to the fire service.

    And being a Boy Scout doesn't hurt either. Go for your Eagle, that will pay off big time in most things you want to do.

    All that said, here is a good bit of advice; watch what you post and let your friends post on your facebook, myspace, whatever... Don't let a picture of you in Juarez doing lines of coke off a strippers rack come back and bite you when you try to enter a profession that values trust above all. It might seem cool now, but can you imagine a background interview in which the investigator pulls up a picture of that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by FiremanLyman View Post
    Don't let a picture of you in Juarez doing lines of coke off a strippers rack come back and bite you when you try to enter a profession that values trust above all. It might seem cool now, but can you imagine a background interview in which the investigator pulls up a picture of that?
    That seems pretty specific... somebody you know experience that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CGITCH View Post
    That seems pretty specific... somebody you know experience that?
    A "friend of mine."

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    Guys I really appreciate your posts they are very helpful and yes here in my area you are REQ to be FF I&II + EMT. And to CGITCH the Lt. I know is a career FF and hes one of the many of them at that fire dept i know very well as for boy scouts. I only made it to life scout didnt get to my eagle community service project. What do you guys think about this. Cincy state offers the FST program which gives an assosciate but mainly focuses on getting you certified BUT they have another degree Fire Service Leadership which has many classes that are used in both degrees. I think a good idea is to finish FST and then while actually looking for a job and hell even if I have one still take the leadership (altho it may take a little longer).

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    Quote Originally Posted by FiremanLyman View Post
    Education; go for it. The longer you put it off, the less likely you are to go back and get it. At least get an associates degree before dedicating your life to the fire service.

    And being a Boy Scout doesn't hurt either. Go for your Eagle, that will pay off big time in most things you want to do.

    All that said, here is a good bit of advice; watch what you post and let your friends post on your facebook, myspace, whatever... Don't let a picture of you in Juarez doing lines of coke off a strippers rack come back and bite you when you try to enter a profession that values trust above all. It might seem cool now, but can you imagine a background interview in which the investigator pulls up a picture of that?
    Just noticed that Lyman, yeah I cant finish that although i wish i had but i cant finish because ill be 20 in april

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    First thing you need to do is ignore those who proclaim an education isn't necessary. Yes, it takes no education to grab a hose and run into a burning building. But the fire service is about more than that. Smaller departments can get by flying by the seat of their pants. In larger departments there is a definite need for an education. It includes things like people management (the number of Chiefs I have meet with no people management skills is unbelievable), Financial and Business management, as well as the science behind fire. English is also a required skill. Many cannot right a proper sentence or a simple position paper using proper paragraph style and grammar. Present a poorly written paper to the administration and you have about a 0 chance they will accept it.

    Capella University offers an on line curriculum in Emergency Management It is advertised on these pages, you may want to check that out.

    Core Courses (each course 4 quarter credits unless noted)

    * PS3004 - Communication Strategies for the Public Safety Professional - 6 quarter credits
    * PS3100 - Introduction to Criminal Justice
    * PS3200 - Introduction to Emergency Management
    * PS3300 - Principles of Security Management
    * PS3400 - Introduction to Homeland Security
    * PS3500 - Applied Public Safety Theory
    * PS3600 - Principles of Public Safety Investigation
    * PS3700 - Justice, Crime, and Ethics
    * PS3800 - Applied Public Safety Research Methods
    * PS3900 - History of Violence in the U.S. Society
    * PS3950 - Introductory Public Safety Statistical Research* - 6 quarter credits

    Specialization Courses (each course 4 quarter credits unless noted)

    * PS4210 - Principles of Emergency Management*
    * PS4220 - Emergency Planning
    * PS4225 - Emergency Management and Homeland Security
    * PS4230 - Leadership in Emergency Management
    * PS4240 - Technology in Emergency Management
    * PS4250 - Decision Management in Critical Incidents
    * PS4260 - Hazard Identification and Vulnerability
    * PS4265 - Hazard Mitigation and Preparedness*
    * PS4270 - Disaster Response Operations and Management
    * PS4280 - Disaster Recovery*
    * PS4290 - Social Dimensions of Disaster

    Elective Courses

    * Choose 37 quarter credits of additional undergraduate courses.

    Capstone Course (taken during learner's final quarter)

    * PS4990 - Public Safety Senior Capstone Project - 6 quarter credits
    I would recommned this.
    1. Join a Volunteer department. This will get you the basic training and some on the job experience
    2. Read all that you can about fire, the science, the physics, etc. (Do not use forums as authoritative sources). Consider attending the local community college studying General Science.
    3. When evaluating employers, check to see if they have a tuition assistance program. Get the specifics of how it works. My current work place will give up to $5,250 a year towards tuition as long as you are pursuing a degree in a related field to the job. I worked for a DoD facility and the managers there were idiots and would say they had tuition assistance but it wasn't in the budget. Government facilities have a way of taking something simple and screwing it all up.
    4. Look at your potential list of departments and find out what they require for education to advance. Some require a degree to move up the ladder, others simply require a warm body.

    And yes, beware of scams. Beware of claims of a guaranteed job or a high salary.

    Remember, no matter what you do in life an education is far better than not being educated. Even a liberal learning degree is better than just a high school degree.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ajandler View Post
    Guys I really appreciate your posts they are very helpful and yes here in my area you are REQ to be FF I&II + EMT. And to CGITCH the Lt. I know is a career FF and hes one of the many of them at that fire dept i know very well as for boy scouts. I only made it to life scout didnt get to my eagle community service project. What do you guys think about this. Cincy state offers the FST program which gives an assosciate but mainly focuses on getting you certified BUT they have another degree Fire Service Leadership which has many classes that are used in both degrees. I think a good idea is to finish FST and then while actually looking for a job and hell even if I have one still take the leadership (altho it may take a little longer).
    One more hint. Try to always use good English. Even in a forum. The more you do it the better you become at it.

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    and beware of guys that have never tried to be a career firefighter telling you the best way to go towards being that.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    and beware of guys that have never tried to be a career firefighter telling you the best way to go towards being that.
    Lol. I'm not sure if that was a shot at anyone here or if it was just a generalized warning.

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    Ok, So this is what I think I'm getting from most people here.
    1. Complete School with general education at least but Fire studies would help.
    2. Volunteer with a Volunteer FD for experience and training.
    3. Maintain my spotless record.
    4. Expect a long hiring process.
    5. Educate myself about the field in my own time.

    One more question I have is what are the physical requirements. What would be a physical goal I should try to obtain if I don't have it already? This also came to mind what can I do to really set myself above any other competition for a job. What can I do to make myself really pop to a possible employer. I just thought of another...Say I obtain my licenses for FF 1&2 with EMT here in Ohio, if I were to relocate are those of any use to me outside the state?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScareCrow57 View Post
    Yes, it takes no education to grab a hose and run into a burning building.


    blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
    Ignore everything Scarecrow says, the first sentence of his post discredits everything after it.

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    That was sarcasm directed at those who say education is not necessary.

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    Regarding the physical fitness side, most departments use the CPAT as part of their process. Here is the version that seems most common:
    http://www.nipsta.org/CPAT/CandidateInformation.aspx
    The dept you test with will probably use this test or one similar.

    My advice is to prepare yourself by doing these activities, or to replicate them as close as possible. Keeping yourself in good shape overall will help, but there is no alternative for doing the actual events. Try to conform to the time schedule too. It's one thing to do all the events individually, but putting them together, esp with the stairmill with weight belt makes it completely different.

    You'll see a lot of people that will suggest P90X, Crossfit, Fireground Fitness, etc. and those may be good programs and might help you to a point, but they aren't simulating the actual testing procedure you need to get hired.

    Also, investigate how the depts you are considering want the test completed. Some will accept a CPAT card (usually good for one year) while other depts may require you to take the test with their agency specifically. If you find a place that tests locally, usually they'll have practice sessions once or twice a month. See if you can attend one or two of those to get an idea of what you're in for.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zzyyzx View Post
    Regarding the physical fitness side, most departments use the CPAT as part of their process. Here is the version that seems most common:
    http://www.nipsta.org/CPAT/CandidateInformation.aspx
    The dept you test with will probably use this test or one similar.

    My advice is to prepare yourself by doing these activities, or to replicate them as close as possible. Keeping yourself in good shape overall will help, but there is no alternative for doing the actual events. Try to conform to the time schedule too. It's one thing to do all the events individually, but putting them together, esp with the stairmill with weight belt makes it completely different.

    You'll see a lot of people that will suggest P90X, Crossfit, Fireground Fitness, etc. and those may be good programs and might help you to a point, but they aren't simulating the actual testing procedure you need to get hired.

    Also, investigate how the depts you are considering want the test completed. Some will accept a CPAT card (usually good for one year) while other depts may require you to take the test with their agency specifically. If you find a place that tests locally, usually they'll have practice sessions once or twice a month. See if you can attend one or two of those to get an idea of what you're in for.
    Much appreciated sir also Crossfit is hard I dont care who you are or what kind of shape your in. Unless your this guy... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTYaK2spZ5o Does crossfit firefighter fran style...ON AIR!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ajandler View Post
    One more question I have is what are the physical requirements. What would be a physical goal I should try to obtain if I don't have it already? This also came to mind what can I do to really set myself above any other competition for a job. What can I do to make myself really pop to a possible employer. I just thought of another...Say I obtain my licenses for FF 1&2 with EMT here in Ohio, if I were to relocate are those of any use to me outside the state?
    Most departments will have some sort of physical agility test, be it CPAT or something else. Good balance, hand-eye coordination, upper and lower body strength, and stamina are just a few of the things you'll need.

    As far as certifications/licenses transferring, that depends from state-to-state. There are a number of states that will accept IFSAC certification for your fire service certs, others Pro-Board, and I think a few still have their own requirements. As far as your EMT, I think most states now accept National Registry for licensure.

    As far as "popping" to an employer, make sure if you want to do this job as a profession that you're professional. When you arrive for an interview, arrived in a suit and tie and sharply groomed (respectable haircut, clean shaven, etc). Speak clearly and correctly while sitting up straight and confident. Check applications, resumes, cover letters, etc for correct spelling and puncuation. Learn the terms "sir" and "ma'am". Work on your interview skills (this is something we see a lot of people lacking in). I'm sure there's things I'm missing, but that covers a lot of it.

    Above all, before and after you land a job, be a student of the job. Learn everything you can, no matter how highly trained or educated you are. Watch how things are done and find out why they're done that way. When you're not fighting fire, pay attention to what's going on around you, what's going on with the crews and tactics and how those actions affect the incident. Learn, learn, and then learn some more.

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