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    Default Looking for some Advice

    Hi Guys, I'm new to the forum. I have a question that I think will be well suited for this forum, but there's some background to go along with it.

    I joined the fire service in 2008 as a volunteer at a department in Northern Kentucky. I recently got a part-time job at a very very rural department, working on the ambulance as an EMT (though we don't see many runs). I'm 21 years old. I started college to obtain an English degree, and I didn't get into the fire service until I was half way through college. Since then I've known that I want to be a career firefighter. Now I am nearing the end of my time in college, and I've discovered a new opportunity.

    I learned about the live-in programs offered at many departments in Prince George's County, MD, in which you live for free in the firehouse while you go to school and/or work. I know that the DC/Maryland area is well known for fire education. Another plus is that these departments are very busy, and I've been dealing with a little discouragement in my current area because we simply don't have many incidents. If I'm going to be a fireman, I'd like to actually be doing the job.

    Here's my question. Do you think that it is a better idea to participate in the live-in program, gaining experience and earning a degree, or to stay in the current area I'm in and try to find a full-time job?

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    Sounds like it is time to get a real job, Unless you are independaly wealthy

    So I would look and apply where ever you can

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    PG is quite unique in it's call volume, live-in opportunities, and the such. You'd get a lot of experience in a short amount of time there.

    However, since you're nearing the completion of the education, you've got a major hurdle out of the way. Focus on getting a full time job....in an area you'd like to live in. Apply in Virginia, DC, Maryland, and North Carolina. See what you want as far as call volume, incident types, and the like.
    Last edited by BoxAlarm187; 08-04-2010 at 10:01 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by moose88 View Post
    Hi Guys, I'm new to the forum. I have a question that I think will be well suited for this forum, but there's some background to go along with it.

    I joined the fire service in 2008 as a volunteer at a department in Northern Kentucky. I recently got a part-time job at a very very rural department, working on the ambulance as an EMT (though we don't see many runs). I'm 21 years old. I started college to obtain an English degree, and I didn't get into the fire service until I was half way through college. Since then I've known that I want to be a career firefighter. Now I am nearing the end of my time in college, and I've discovered a new opportunity.

    I learned about the live-in programs offered at many departments in Prince George's County, MD, in which you live for free in the firehouse while you go to school and/or work. I know that the DC/Maryland area is well known for fire education. Another plus is that these departments are very busy, and I've been dealing with a little discouragement in my current area because we simply don't have many incidents. If I'm going to be a fireman, I'd like to actually be doing the job.

    Here's my question. Do you think that it is a better idea to participate in the live-in program, gaining experience and earning a degree, or to stay in the current area I'm in and try to find a full-time job?
    You don't say how close you are to completing you education, but assuming you're very close, I would say stay where you are, finish your education and when you finish, get the HE*L OUT OF THERE AND START LOOKING FOR A FULL TIME JOB!!! Now there are many on this forum that will disagree with me. But you started your education for a reason and you're close to completing this phase of it. Don't squander the chance to finish it!! You're only 21 years old!! My God you have all kinds of time! Education is getting more expensive; the fire department ain't goin' anywhere!! It would be different if you were trying to get a degree, say in fire science, just to get hired. But you're getting a solid liberal arts education that will greatly benefit you later on! You have a lifetime dude, to get your meat split wide open running 20 calls a shift. Don't worry, it'll come!! As the previous poster suggested, when you get out. Go be a firefighter wherever you want!

    "The Axeman"
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    Axeman: I am really close. I will graduate in December, and I'm not planning on quitting college at this point for any reason.

    I was wondering though, if a Liberal Arts education helps you at all when you're trying to be a professional firemen? I mean I know the way it is today if you have any degree at all it helps, but one of the things I was considering going away for was to get a fire science degree.

    I think what is weighing on me mostly is the hiring difficulty. In my mind I'm trying to get any advantage that I can in order to get looked at (fire degree, experience, etc.).

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    looks good on the resume, unless a department requires college hours, which some do

    a degree does not help you get hired, it looks good and may get you hired over someone without college or does not have a four yr degree

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    Quote Originally Posted by moose88 View Post
    Axeman: I am really close. I will graduate in December, and I'm not planning on quitting college at this point for any reason.

    I was wondering though, if a Liberal Arts education helps you at all when you're trying to be a professional firemen? I mean I know the way it is today if you have any degree at all it helps, but one of the things I was considering going away for was to get a fire science degree.

    I think what is weighing on me mostly is the hiring difficulty. In my mind I'm trying to get any advantage that I can in order to get looked at (fire degree, experience, etc.).
    You know what dude...I really don't think that it matters. Like the previous poster wrote, just because you have a degree doesn't guarantee that you're going to be the most qualified for the job. It's way more subjective than that! You see it's really a combination of things. You could have one AA degree, two bachelors degrees and three masters degrees. And if you don't NAIL the oral interview (which most of the time is weighted 100%) then you'll get hosed in the process. The job you are applying for is for a "snotty nosed rookie" position, as CaptBob would say. So again, it's the whole package. I wouldn't be so concerned with a fire science degree. Finish what you've started and get out of there, so you can get to testing for departments.

    That said, any degree is fine! And in fact, in my eyes, someone with something other than a fire science is gonna get my attention because every swinging d*$k that applies is going to have one too. So a liberal arts degree will distinguish you from the rest and you won't look like a clone.

    NOW! You want advantage? You already have your EMT! You should, strongly consider Paramedic training. BUT most importantly, get into the testing circuit and start practicing for interviews. This is where most guys take a crap; so don't sleep on this!

    "The Axeman"
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    Thanks for the replies so far. I don't mind at all the "snot nosed rookie" position. That's where I want to start, snot nosed and getting whipped on some downtown urban engine or ambulance.

    I've been starting to fill out some applications. I'm still not sure if I should count volunteer work as "Employment." I haven't in the past, but I've gotten the impression that the guys who review applications are looking for tiny reasons to throw your application out.

    What kind of practice are you talking about when it comes to interviews?

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    Contact capt bob for interview advice

    But from what I have seen is attitude,do not walk in and think you deserve a job do not slouch

    Be able to talk more then 30 seconds

    Be able to talk about yourself

    I think I would put volunteer under employment Along with wherever else it would fit on the application


    Also as far as education some cities have tutiln reimbursement. So you can Perdue an education and get paid twice for it

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    Quote Originally Posted by moose88 View Post
    Thanks for the replies so far. I don't mind at all the "snot nosed rookie" position. That's where I want to start, snot nosed and getting whipped on some downtown urban engine or ambulance.

    I've been starting to fill out some applications. I'm still not sure if I should count volunteer work as "Employment." I haven't in the past, but I've gotten the impression that the guys who review applications are looking for tiny reasons to throw your application out.

    What kind of practice are you talking about when it comes to interviews?
    I'm sure you have chief officers in your volunteer organization. Ask them if they'll set up some "mock" interviews with you. Have them review some of your answers, your body language, tonality when speaking, whether you sound confident or arrogant. Dress as if you would a regular interview (nice dark colored suit, white shirt, single colored tie i.e. red or yellow). Take it seriously as if it were the real deal.

    Another way is to just get out there, taking tests and getting beat up in the interview process. This is a great way to refine your interview technique, what to do and what not to do.

    Lastly, as the previous poster suggested, go to www.eatstress.com, CaptBob is a retired Fire Captain that has helped hundreds of people get hired through his DVD programs, seminars and coaching. He also has some great FREE content on his site that will be of benefit to you!! The interview is what usually makes or breaks a candidate, because it's weighted 100%. You also have to pass the CPAT (physical agility) , the written and the background and medical. BUT the interview is what will put the final nail in your coffin, if you're not prepared. Too many people that want the job; so you can't sleep on this...THIS IS KEY!!

    As for using your volunteer service as experience?? Did you have to apply to become a volunteer? Were you selected to be a volunteer? Does being a volunteer require you to be certain places at certain times? Are you required to maintain minimum training hours and standards as volunteer? Are you required to perform a service? See where I'm going with this?? Just because you're not paid or perhaps are paid per call...THAT'S A JOB!! If you think people are trying to throw you out of the process, two things may be occurring:
    1) You're right! Which is normal because they have many qualified candidates to go through and only want the best.

    2) You need more confidence; and that comes with taking more tests!

    "The Axeman"
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    Thanks for the advice about the interview prep. information. I have starting listing volunteer work as employment. I think what confuses me the most as that with these very strict online applications, you only have a limited amount of space to put a limited amount of things. While at one station I am a true volunteer (no compensation at all), I am a paid on-call "volunteer" at another station, and it doesn't seem like these applications leave any room to enter that kind of information.

    Ironically, most of my stress is in the application process rather than in the interview. In the past, with college and work, I have interviewed well (though I will definitely look into eatstress.com because it seems so fire service specific). I think you're correct, axeman, about confidence. In this sense it's a lack of confidence that some guy at a desk reviewing my application won't read into my employment record an make a false assumption. And I worry that I can't get test-taking confidence because I won't get to the test taking process. That said, I don't feel as though I have anything on my record that would take me out of the running (nothing more than a couple of speeding tickets). But this leads me to my next question:

    I was a volunteer at one point for a mostly-career fire department (only one volunteer could ride the first out piece). My membership status was revoked because the department SOGs stated you had to be in station for a certain period of time per quarter, and I didn't meet that requirement for two reasons: 1. I was billy bad-*** new firemen at the time (or so I had thought) joining 4 departments and doing nothing other than going to school and being in a firehouse, and I soon realized that I didn't have enough time to be at all of them adequately; 2. The department was going through a lot of vicious in-fighting between the career guys from different shifts, and it just made it unpleasant to be in the station. It isn't as though I was fired for bad behavior, and I didn't leave on bad terms. I just worry that the reviewer will look at my application and write me off because of that.

    If you can't tell, I worry a lot

    By the way, thanks for all the advice so far. You are good guys, and I appreciate the help.

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    Haha!! Dayam dude!! You part Jamaican?? How many jobs you have? lol!
    If that's all you're worried about..I don't think you're gonna have a problem. BUT, you need to remember that the testing process is totally subjective, and it's gonna be up to you to figure out a way to explain away this issue at the firehouse. By all indications, even Ray Charles could see that you just got in over your head and got a bit over zealous. You can work on this during your mock oral. Take the time to NAIL this answer down for your oral. TRUST: YOU WILL BE ASKED ABOUT THIS!

    As for all this other crap...i.e. worried about the application, being judged...
    You have no control over that, so quit trippin' on it; takes too much energy!!
    Start packaging yourself: Experience/Education, Physical Training, Application Presentation (words are power, so your application should be worded carefully) and most importantly, Interview Preparation. Think of yourself as a brand, and you want to think of methods to market that brand!

    "The Axeman"
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    Thanks for the reply Axeman. I agree, I figured they would ask about it. I'm just concerned about getting to the asking part. Also, should I list that as being "fired"?

    Also, I'm working on an application for the Nashville, TN test, and it has a section to add skills. What kind of skills are worth putting on the application?

    As for the physical preparation, what do you recommend? I played basketball in high school and a year in college, so I used to be in pretty good shape. Unfortunately, over the past two years my level of activity has gone down. I always tried to revert to the same workout that I did while playing ball, but I wonder is there anything more specific that you recommend?

    Once again, thanks for the help. I almost feel guilty asking so many questions. But at least this is relieving a little bit of stress.

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    Quote Originally Posted by moose88 View Post
    Thanks for the reply Axeman. I agree, I figured they would ask about it. I'm just concerned about getting to the asking part. Also, should I list that as being "fired"?

    Also, I'm working on an application for the Nashville, TN test, and it has a section to add skills. What kind of skills are worth putting on the application?

    As for the physical preparation, what do you recommend? I played basketball in high school and a year in college, so I used to be in pretty good shape. Unfortunately, over the past two years my level of activity has gone down. I always tried to revert to the same workout that I did while playing ball, but I wonder is there anything more specific that you recommend?

    Once again, thanks for the help. I almost feel guilty asking so many questions. But at least this is relieving a little bit of stress.
    Moose,

    Well.. were you terminated?? If you were, just MAN-UP and tell your interview panel that's what happened. Hell, who hasn't been fired at some point in their life?? It certainly ain't the end of life as we know it! BUT, then say why! This strikes me as the perfect opportunity to explain to an interview panel what you learned through the experience. No doubt, this was and still is a teachable moment for you. By your description, you failed to fulfill your basic obligation to the volunteer force, NOT because you were irresponsible, unreliable and dismissive of the team, BUT because you took on too much! You got in over your head and your overzealousness spread you too thin! There are a myriad of ways to answer for this termination on an interview. The key is to LEVERAGE the experience into a "testimony" or story of what you learned from all this and that if nothing else, you've sustained major character growth from it.

    NOW...The Nashville Test! What do you mean what skills are worth putting??? Dude..You just got through telling me that you were working for two or three volunteer organizations...one of them as a EMT?!? C'mon Now!! Those are skills!! Working within the framework of a team: THOSE ARE SKILLS! You're a college student. You have the ability to learn, listen and be taught. At your age and this part of the game: THAT'S A SKILL!! lol! You played basketball in high school, so you know the value of what it is to be part of a team: THAT'S A SKILL.

    Keep in mind they're looking for "snotty nosed" kids, so don't over think it, keep it simple! You want to market your strengths and make the interview panel see how bringing your strengths to the table, is gonna benefit their department.

    Lastly... the physical agility. I know you're young, and youth is gonna be on your side, BUT a basketball workout, ain't gonna get it!! If you're already in the application phase for Nashville, you better start asking what type of agility they have and get on it PRETTY DAYAM QUICK!! Is it a CPAT, Biddle or what?? Do your homework! Get on this forum and start asking others that took the test before, and develop your workout around those events on the test. AND GET YOU @SS WORKING OUT!

    "The Axeman"
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    When asked on the application what the preferred wage would be, what is the best answer, since the wage for the position is already specified?

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    Quote Originally Posted by moose88 View Post
    When asked on the application what the preferred wage would be, what is the best answer, since the wage for the position is already specified?
    Entry Level or Starting Pay.

    "The Axeman"

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    Good news axeman, a local fire district just opened up 3 full-time positions

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    Quote Originally Posted by moose88 View Post
    Good news axeman, a local fire district just opened up 3 full-time positions
    Well do yo thang man....Do yo thang!!! If you need anything, either PM me or ask on the regular thread. Let's get it poppin'!!!

    "The Axeman"

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    Sent you a PM

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