I have been wanting to do this firefighting thing for a good sum of time now but am a little hesitant to get into it. I would love to jump right into a career and live happily ever after but that's not the case. I'm only afraid of one thing, failure. I have a pretty decent job now, not what I want to do the rest of my life but it pays the bills. My biggest fear is making it to the academy and then not passing it. I would be out of a job and out of luck. My only reason of thinking of failure is because I have absolutely no background in the fire industry. I've been thinking about it for a while and have come to wonder if I should volunteer first. I figure by doing this I could gain a ton of experience, and have a much easier time going through the academy. Not only that, but there is a department close to me that gives free training, free equipment, and I can get all my certifications as EMT and firefighter 1 and 2. While this all sounds fantastic and all I'm sure there has to be some drawbacks... which is why I'm coming to you guys. I'm sure I'm not alone in this, how many of you have done this and do you think it helped you? Once you are a committed volunteer how long do you stay with your company before departing into a career? Any insight would be appreciated.
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Thread: Hey a couple of Q's here
01-24-2010, 07:19 PM #1
Hey a couple of Q's here
01-24-2010, 08:24 PM #2
- Join Date
- May 2008
- Stamford, CT
Let me start off by saying that ALL of the good firemen I know are good firemen because they WANT to fight fires and serve the public. If you don't want to serve others and possibly put your life on the line in doing so, then this is not for you.
That said, if you fear failure to the point it prevents you from doing something than you will indeed fail, in fact you already have. To pursue this or any career is a choice and one to which you must commit yourself without reservation. Many firemen enter the service "right off the street". This is what academies are designed for, to take people and give them the tools to succeed as firefighters, just as boot camp does for the military. Do not let your lack of experience or knowledge hold you back...doing so does you and any potential department you may get hired on with a great disservice.
Now on to the volunteering aspect. Is it possible to volunteer as a stepping stone to a career as a firefighter? By all means yes...absolutely. Many, many before you have done so successfully. But in my humble opinion that is not THE reason to volunteer. If you chose to volunteer then you are making a committment to that FD and ALL your available energies should be devoted to it as you pursue a career. Just as with serving the puiblic...if you chose to serve as a volunteer FF, then you have chosen to accept a responsibility to that organization, especially if they are training you ect...you owe them and the community that level of commitment. Volunteer because you want to serve the VFD and the community while serving yourself, not the other way around. If you can't or won't do that than just go take tests...you needn't volunteer to be a successful career fireman.
My advice would be to volunteer and commit yourself to being the best FF you can be at the VFD first. You may very quickly come to realize that going into burning buildings is not for you. By volunteering you won't be locked into this by a paycheck. On the other hand you may excel in this field and as you pursue a career you will gain valuable experience "in the field" with your VFD while testing for a career position.
As for a time frame, there really isn't one. It depends on your civil service test scores, needs of the departments you test for and to be quite frank a good bit of luck...being in the right place at the right time. And as with any other career choice don't screw people over along the way...that has a very nasty habit of coming back to bite you square in the a**.
Last edited by FFPCogs08; 01-24-2010 at 08:30 PM.
01-24-2010, 10:16 PM #3
- Join Date
- Mar 2008
- Long time no Sea
Dude! Do you know how many of us got onto departments? We were kidnapped!! I was walking to the bar down the street 21 years ago and the fire dept was out hooked up to a hydrant and when I walked by they grabbed me and stuck a nozzle in my hand.
Bingo! Just like that I was shanghaied. I stay on because of a deep sense of responsibility that is overwhelming. So I am not shy about kidnapping other members now too. I just make sure they fill out a membership application.
So I can't tell if this is actually a 'joke' posting, but in case it isn't here is my advice. If you think you physically comparable to other men (you should know) and that your intelligently equivalent, then you will probably regret not having tried later on in life. Besides you can attain your certifications without attending an academy if your talking about a volunteer department.
just make an application and be the best there is.
01-25-2010, 04:32 PM #4
That said, these guys have given a lot of good information. I got my EMT-B license then joined the local volunteer department and I have no intention of ever leaving it. I am looking for jobs as an EMT now to pay for courses at IFSI(Illinois Fire Service Institute) and to pay for my medic training. Once completed with both of these I plan on trying to get on a paid department close by (which takes most people years). In the mean time I will be working for an ambulance service as a medic and still on my volunteer BLS FD. I hope that the paid department I want to get on will allow me to still volunteer for my local FD. I guess what I'm tryin to say is you either have to KNOW without any doubt that this is what you want to do. I would highly recommend going volunteer in your case just to get a generalized feel for the fire service. But you have to be doing it because you're pationate about it. As I told another guy with a similar post, the fire service isn't just a job it's a lifestyle.Firefighter/EMT
Service, Valor, Honor, Dedication & Modesty
01-26-2010, 12:18 AM #5
I appreciate the responses, both the true ones and sarcastic. It seems like you guys have me a little confused. Let me set one thing straight. I know this might sound a little weird but I'm more afraid of failing a test then walking into a burning building. Is it weird that the thought actually excites me? I guess I want to do this because I'm tired of being the guy passing by the ambulances, and fire trucks on the streets. I want to be there, helping, making a difference. After reading your inputs something clicked. What is there to be afraid of? If I try and fail, keep going. It's as simple as that. Thanks again guys!
01-26-2010, 12:55 AM #6
- Join Date
- Apr 2009
I joined up because i felt a calling. I knew its not what i want to do for a career, so i volunteer in my county. If you fail a test then re go over the material and take it again. No written test will ever be anything like a scene. There are some that are quiet, everyone knows what needs to be done and it gets done. There are other scenes that are utter chaos, people screaming, multiple departments are enroute and all hell is breaking loose. The other day we had a tone for mva with vehicle fire and entrapment. I went enroute and called for another department to be toned for mutual aid because i was the only one enroute to the call. Get there and the woman was DOA but there was never a fire. About 2 minutes after i get on scene and after i had told all units en route to down grade to non emergency traffic (dont need everyone hauling *** to get there when we have to wait for the JP and troopers and everyone else anyway), the family members pull up in a truck and start to scream and run over to the truck. Being instructed by the trooper enroute to secure the scene and wait for him the EMTs and myself had to restrain (hold back) the family and get them out of the area. If you can handle screaming families and dead bodies then everything else you just need to get your hands dirty and let your fellow firemen guide you. The most important thing is at one point or another you will need to risk your life. I am going to a fire fighter funeral tomorrow, they occur far too often. Dont let that discourage you, im just trying to throw a shot of reality from what i have seen.
01-26-2010, 11:37 AM #7Firefighter/EMT
Service, Valor, Honor, Dedication & Modesty
01-26-2010, 04:31 PM #8
01-27-2010, 03:12 PM #9
- Join Date
- Feb 2005
Six years ago, my company closed shop and moved everything to a different state. My job with the company was/is good enough to warrant moving, which we did. In my new town, I didn't know anyone and my new neighborhood is semi-rural so making friends there wasn't an easy thing to do.
Actually it was my wife who suggested that I try to get on the local volunteer fire company. Five minutes after hearing her suggestion, I had my application filled out and in the mail.
Today, I have numerous state and national certs (FF1, vehicle rescue tech, HazMat, 500 + hours of state fire school), I'm a member of the DCNR wildfire crew and I'm an EMT and run as a vollie on an ambulance. Also, I was elected Lieutenant, not bad for an out-of-stater who knew nothing about the fire service and EMS as late as October 30, 2004. The good thing about being a volie is you get to play and train and still keep your day job.
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