1. #1
    Forum Member
    SpellPacks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Atlanta
    Posts
    2

    Red face Questions about becoming a firefighter...

    Good evening,


    I'll start off by saying I recently finished my associates degree in web development, however I have come to realize I really do not like this style of work and the unstable job market of having month long contract jobs and going several months looking for the next job...

    I've always had becoming a firefighter in the back of my mind and I think maybe that is the path I should go ahead and try walking.

    I was thinking about going back to my technical school and getting certified (link to description) but I had a few questions if you guys could help me out.

    1. I was curious as to what the grooming policy is for males? I know that facial hair is a hazard because of the fit test. But what about the hair on my head? I am a locksoflove supporter and donate regularly, I wouldn't be opposed to cutting it though, or wearing it back/up, I keep it really neat and clean so I can donate it. Would it just hurt my chances in an interview? Just curious...

    2. How difficult is it to break into a firefighter career as someone with no prior experience but a certification? Is the market flooded with firefighters that are out of work or getting laid off?

    3. What has been your overall experience with this career path? Pros and cons? Would you pick a different career if you had a choice to start over again?

    Thanks for any responses.



    PS: I would be looking for work around Georgia in case that is some info needed for the questions.

  2. #2
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    180

    Default

    if you take a look around the forum, youll find every answer to your questions. but ill do a quick answer:

    1. hurt your chances? not unless you're rocking dreads. FDs love dreads.

    2. very difficult for anyone.

    3. you're on a firefighting forum. a) people dont just go 'i guess my last resort is to be a firefighter' it takes a long time. b) you dont join forums your not passionate about. are you on web development forums?

    not tryin to be an a**
    Last edited by legos.8ty7; 06-20-2010 at 01:38 AM.

  3. #3
    Forum Member
    FWDbuff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Pee-Ayy!
    Posts
    7,401

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SpellPacks View Post
    1. I was curious as to what the grooming policy is for males? I know that facial hair is a hazard because of the fit test. But what about the hair on my head? I am a locksoflove supporter and donate regularly, I wouldn't be opposed to cutting it though, or wearing it back/up, I keep it really neat and clean so I can donate it. Would it just hurt my chances in an interview? Just curious...

    Most Fire Departments here in the mid-atlantic region are para-military organizations. You are expected to be clean-shaven, with acceptable haircuts (almost all departments have grooming standards that do not allow the hair which you described.) Most, if not all of the career FF's that I work with (unless if female) rarely let their hair go longer than a crew cut. Occasionally you come across someone who pushes the standards, but they are usually considered bums. Would it hurt your chances in an interview? If I were an interviewer and you came in with long hair I think one of my questions would be "Are you opposed to cutting your hair and maintaining an acceptable length?" and go from there.

    2. How difficult is it to break into a firefighter career as someone with no prior experience but a certification? Is the market flooded with firefighters that are out of work or getting laid off? Experience or not, it is EXTREMELY difficult at best. The market is flooded with thousands of candidates. Thousands.

    3. What has been your overall experience with this career path? Pros and cons? Would you pick a different career if you had a choice to start over again? Best job in the universe. You will have occasional a-holes for bosses, shifts that are on the same day as an important family event or a major holiday, nights without sleep, but these all pale in comparison to the job satisfaction.

    PS: I would be looking for work around Georgia in case that is some info needed for the questions.
    I will tell you two things that I tell everyone else who says "I am looking for work in such-and-such a place": Son, if you want to be a career firefighter, you need to open your perimeter to the continental US, and you should seriously think about enlisting in the Military for 4 years of active duty to get the vets points.

    You need to understand (especially as you have no experience in firefighting, and it sounds like you have never been exposed to the fire service before) that competition for jobs is absolutely cut-throat. Imagine ancient roman gladiators battling in the Coliseum for their lives. I think the average for every one position open, there is something like 90 to 120 candidates, depending on the geographic region the job is in. Many of these candidates have Veterans Preference, which is why I encourage you to consider the Military. I am not trying to discourage you, but you should prepare yourself for a long, hard road.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

  4. #4
    Forum Member
    CaptOldTimer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 1999
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    7,239

    Default

    As FWD has said, I would start looking for jobs across the US and apply for those whose pay is something that is functional for you. You AS in web development won't mean squat in getting a job except it may help when the interviewers look at you, providing you get to that stage.


    Most departments in this area, VA TO PA don't care how much certification you may process. If you get hired they will teach you what you need to know and certify you .
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

  5. #5
    Forum Member
    SpellPacks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Atlanta
    Posts
    2

    Default

    Thanks for the responses and advice guys.

    Thanks especially to FWD for being blunt and honest with me. It does sound very difficult but it doesn't discourage me, I have an idea as to which direction I should go in order to prepare now.

  6. #6
    Forum Member
    Theaxemancometh's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    129

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SpellPacks View Post
    Good evening,


    I'll start off by saying I recently finished my associates degree in web development, however I have come to realize I really do not like this style of work and the unstable job market of having month long contract jobs and going several months looking for the next job...

    I've always had becoming a firefighter in the back of my mind and I think maybe that is the path I should go ahead and try walking.

    I was thinking about going back to my technical school and getting certified (link to description) but I had a few questions if you guys could help me out.

    1. I was curious as to what the grooming policy is for males? I know that facial hair is a hazard because of the fit test. But what about the hair on my head? I am a locksoflove supporter and donate regularly, I wouldn't be opposed to cutting it though, or wearing it back/up, I keep it really neat and clean so I can donate it. Would it just hurt my chances in an interview? Just curious...

    2. How difficult is it to break into a firefighter career as someone with no prior experience but a certification? Is the market flooded with firefighters that are out of work or getting laid off?

    3. What has been your overall experience with this career path? Pros and cons? Would you pick a different career if you had a choice to start over again?

    Thanks for any responses.



    PS: I would be looking for work around Georgia in case that is some info needed for the questions.
    OK my dreadlock wearing brotha!! I'll give this one a try!!

    First I need to say, I work on the west coast and dreads (especially at the
    entry level) are somewhat frowned upon. The caveat would be that they have to be extremely short, well maintained and neat. (No rasta look!) Every fire department has a grooming standard. You need to research this earnestly and determine what is allowed. My best friend is a Captain in DeKalb County, Ga. Many of the departments on the east coast and in the deep south, "appear" to have more relaxed standards on hairstyles. This is because of some case litigation the past several years that has resulted in departments being sued. Now knowing that, would I use this to my advantage to sweat a potential employer to get a job! A resounding H*LL NO!!!

    If being a Firefighter is your calling...( and it is a calling, not just a job) you'll do what ever you need to do to get the position. This includes modifying your lifestyle slightly (like growing your hair long just to be able to donate to "locksoflove"). I agree with the previous poster, this ain't the kind of gig you just think about in the back of your brain. Like I said, it's something you're called to do. Dreads or no dreads!

    As for certifications?? Read some of the other threads in other forums that ask the same question, and you'll find your answer! But I'll tell you in two succinct words: PARAMEDIC SCHOOL!!

    The Axeman

    "Purpose, Truth and Passion Yields Power and Dominion IN ACTION!!!"

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    94

    Default

    from personal experience:fire science degree, multiple certs,volunteer experience,emt. clean record and driving record. spent thousands of dollars going to testing at over a dozen fds in multiple states and still no fulltime job at a large metro dept. not to discourage you but just to reinterate the competitiveness of the job. ive went to test at midsize to small depts where in the past years they would have a handful apply for a couple positions now there are hundreds of applicants at even the small/rural departments. DONT give up. i havent.

  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber
    ffbam24's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    1,482

    Default

    gander,
    What has prevented you from obtaining the badge? Thousands of dollars over the last several years to travel to/from, degree, certs, etc.

    Something is holding you back, and it's not just because things have gotten more competitive.
    How are your interview skills?
    Outside of the fire service volunteer work?

    I'm not coming down on you and I know what it's like to test for years and still not get the badge. It took me a few of those years to figure out what it was to get me dialed-in.

    Don't give up, but figure out why you aren't where you want to be yet instead of just being the Little Engine That Could.
    Last edited by ffbam24; 06-22-2010 at 01:07 PM.

  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    94

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ffbam24 View Post
    gander,
    What has prevented you from obtaining the badge? Thousands of dollars over the last several years to travel to/from, degree, certs, etc.

    Something is holding you back, and it's not just because things have gotten more competitive.
    How are your interview skills?
    Outside of the fire service volunteer work?

    I'm not coming down on you and I know what it's like to test for years and still not get the badge. It took me a few of those years to figure out what it was to get me dialed-in.

    Don't give up, but figure out why you aren't where you want to be yet instead of just being the Little Engine That Could.
    honestly i dont know whats holding me back. ive tried to obtain everything that i was advised would give me an edge im even bilingual. I even had one panel interviewer tell me that i did a good interview afterwards and i always feel good about them after i come out. I have no problems obtaining jobs in my other field and have excellent work references. I think im just a number among the hundreds even thousands of applicants where ive applied and just havent been chosen. Ive been advised at some places that they only look at those with emt or previous experience or etc., but then when it comes down to those chosen some have geds working at a fast food joint and have never seen a fire hose up close in their life. I dont know?

  10. #10
    Forum Member
    inferno714's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    north baldwin
    Posts
    2

    Default

    Dekalb just had a hiring process and clayton co is now hiring

  11. #11
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    470

    Default

    OP - Personally, regarding the hair, I think it's great you do that, but I would NOT show up for an interview with anything but a "professional" haircut (tapered, block, etc.) AND clean shaven (NO facial hair). I would probably not even bring it up during the process unless they somehow ask about previous community service type stuff. I would DEFINITELY not even think about ASKING to regrow it until you've been on for a few years. Long hair and facial hair are quite acceptable in creative industries, but remember that many firefighters are conservative, former military servicemembers working in a para-military organization. You want to look like you'll fit in with them from the first impression.

    As said above, it's quite difficult to get hired, but not impossible. One of the most basic keys to getting hired is the oral interview, since most departments base 100% of your ranking on that one section of the process. Everything else is pass/fail. You also need to have a clean background (i.e. no problems with the law, credit, etc.). Even before the economy took a dive, there were dozens of people applying for each opening in smaller departments and hundreds for each opening in large depts. Now, there are hundreds in the smaller depts and thousands in the large depts.

    This is the best job in the world. My only regret is not getting into it earlier in life (I didn't start until I was 32). But on that same note, I think during that period before I got hired I gained maturity and experience that allowed me to get hired. You will seldom come across someone that has ever left the fire service either voluntarily or without some significant life event.

    Gander - I would strongly suggest looking into some information on your oral board interviewing. FF interviews are like no others out there and when there are hundreds or thousands they are interviewing, you want to set the standard which every other candidate is compared. If you haven't already, do a search for "CaptBob Fire." He has a lot of free information that you can benefit from and some paid books and coaching that might help you determine where you need to improve. And you'll probably be able to get it for less than you spend on a tank of gas and the application for the last time you tested. Well, worth it to have the job of your dreams.

  12. #12
    Forum Member
    Theaxemancometh's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    129

    Wink

    Quote Originally Posted by gander27 View Post
    from personal experience:fire science degree, multiple certs,volunteer experience,emt. clean record and driving record. spent thousands of dollars going to testing at over a dozen fds in multiple states and still no fulltime job at a large metro dept. not to discourage you but just to reinterate the competitiveness of the job. ive went to test at midsize to small depts where in the past years they would have a handful apply for a couple positions now there are hundreds of applicants at even the small/rural departments. DONT give up. i havent.
    Yo Gander! I agree with the previous poster. There's got to be something in your oral presentation that is not going over well. You don't explain in your post what you've done in that area to perfect your interview skills. It sounds like you have a lot of "quals". Are these things good!! Certainly! BUT, have I sat on orals where the candidate tried to beat me into submission with certs, training and degrees??? Absolutely!! Did he/she completely BLEVE their interview? Absolutely!! Seems like CaptBob has a program that will PEEL YOUR CAP BACK and get you hired! (www.eatstress.com.) You may not want to spend the money, but he's apparently helped many. He also has some good free content on his web site and posts on this web site.

    Also start carrying around a digital tape recorder to hear how you sound. If you haven't considered specialized training like paramedic school, now may be the time to consider that. Paramedic training will definitely separate the "men from the boys" when it comes to who gets the gig and who doesn't.

    Finally, you need to realize there is a department out there for you! It sounds like you've really put in some time and effort. DO NOT GIVE UP...DO NOT GIVE IN!! Nothing worth having ever comes easy! And this gig...is worth it!!

    The Axeman
    ___________
    "Purpose, Truth and Passion Yield Power and Dominion IN ACTION"
    Last edited by Theaxemancometh; 06-22-2010 at 05:41 PM.

  13. #13
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    22

    Default

    I'm not going to sugar coat it. Cut your hair.. ideally so it doesn't touch the collar of your dress shirt.... then go get your golden ticket (National Registry EMT-Paramedic)

    With the few jobs that get posted out there... you can have an excellent military career but if you don't have your Paramedic cert. you may not even sit down for the test.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Officer Requirements
    By lvfd2167 in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 36
    Last Post: 02-14-2010, 12:49 AM
  2. firefighter questions
    By firenewbie in forum Probie House: The Place for Newbies
    Replies: 25
    Last Post: 01-28-2007, 10:29 AM
  3. Live FIRE Training!
    By PaulGRIMWOOD in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 57
    Last Post: 11-11-2005, 04:48 PM
  4. Stop hitting your self fireservice, stop hitting your self!
    By stm4710 in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 20
    Last Post: 01-16-2004, 02:32 PM
  5. Replies: 384
    Last Post: 05-18-2002, 11:17 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Log in

Click here to log in or register