1. #1
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    Default College student questions

    So I decided to go to EKU for a 4 year Fire safety Admin degree. I really debated doing the degree or just going through the dept. and getting my fire 1, fire 2, ect... so in this debate i am still comparing with friends who went the other route and went with the department. I will be joining the AFST and they do regular trainings but i still dont really know. any advice that anyone ha will help me out.

    My main questions are:

    -what do i come out with after 4 years? i know i will have a degree with my name on it, but what does that mean in the fire field.

    -Because of the degree how do I have to work out my Firefighter 1, ect...? I dont really understand the certification, will i be able to take a test or will i have more classes to go through?

    -lastly, Any suggestions for me as i go through this? What should i be doing to try an get myself ready to go once i get out of school. I.E. summers, weekend, nights, any ideas really.

    Thanks for your time and any advice that you may have

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    What is your goal?
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    I'd say Battalion Chief would be my overall goal.

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    You're suppose to say fire chief. LOL

    first things first. Where are you at now? Any education, age, experience, EMT? What is your time line?
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    Does the University have it's own department? If it does, see if there's anything you can do to make yourself useful.

    What type of department serves the city of Richmond? Do they have any opportunities to volunteer, serve as an explorer, or maybe even some dispatching jobs?

    Finally, I'd try to find out if any of the local jurisdictions have any kind of ride-along programs. Even doing some with law enforcement will get your name out among the "powers that be" in local agencies.

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    Haha yeah i know Chief would be the answer in that case but in all truth I think i want to be a higher up but still be out in the field. That may change though as I get older though lol.

    As far as me. Not much. Im 18 and just started as a freshman at EKU, and have been an explorer for the past few years. No timeline really yet, will finish my degree in 4 years. will be trying to volly or just ride at my home dept. in the summers.

    @downstate. thanks for the input! our AFST club is partnered with richmond FD so definately something to look into there. and good idea at looking at other local places for ride-along programs. i will keep the law enforcement idea in mind as a fallback

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    4year degree does not help much when you are assigned to pull the hose

    It might be a fall back if for some reason you get out of the dept

    It will help you in the long run if you to stay in and make the dept a career

    A thing to think about is some cities will pay for your tution so you can have job, go to school,get paid and have your school paid for


    You would have to check to see if the 4year degree counts toward a ff certificate

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    check ot the firefighter netcast poscast of "running to the curb" with chief sendlebach (spelling is different i'm sure) . he was from there and talked about the program and vollie opertunities down there.
    Originally Posted by madden01
    "and everyone is encouraged to use Plain, Spelled Out English. I thought this was covered in NIMS training."

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    Do you have any interest in the EMS Fire/medic side of the floor?

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    ffmedcbk1 - I'll check out that video, thanks!
    CaptBob - yeah i do still have an interest in that side also. I was debating taking my EMT-B in the summer at somepoint or if i could fit it in the semester schedule somewhere.

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    Everyone has an opinion, there are exceptions and more than one road to a badge and there are no guarantees in life which ever path you take. Education will never hurt you. At age 18 you have time to decide how you want to hitch up your wagon, especially if someone is picking up the freight for college.

    But if you really want to get a firefighter job consider these points:

    Is there a requirement for an advanced degree to get a firefighter job?

    Answer: It’s rare to see departments require an AA or an advanced degree to apply. Those areas like MI and WI are setting the bar higher requiring some college credits to cull the heard because HR doesn’t want to spend the money to test and there are few jobs available there now.

    In case you haven’t noticed there is an army (or air force) out there with every degree, certificate, experience, military time, volunteer and every merit badge you could imagine trying to be one of up to 800 competing for each firefighter job.

    Even if you get an advanced degree in a fire science related field you need to get the JOB first to be able to use it.

    Where are 80% of the job offerings?

    Answer: Fire/medics

    There are up to 800 candidates chasing each firefighter job. How many are chasing a fire/medic job?

    Answer: 12-20. Which odds do you like better?

    What’s the time line? If you’re just starting college and want to get your BA, it could take you 4 maybe 5 or more years depending on when you can line up and complete all your classes and requirements. Then, if you wanted to go further the timing it to get into and academy and or paramedic school and get some street time another 2+ years? So around 7 years give or take to get in position to go after the badge. Are you going to need student loans? Do you have a special person in your life that is going to wait while you pursue your career? How long can you tread water?

    Try and get your EMT because you will able to take more tests as an EMT.

    The path to become a medic is about 2 years with gaining some savvy street time. If you can get in an academy in that time period it will be convincing evidence that you have the hands on experience that a department can take a risk on you.

    Can you continue your education once you’re hired? Will departments give you an education incentive?

    Answer: Yes to both.

    Yes, having a degree will help with promotions but how long will it be before you will qualify to take a promotional exam?

    Answer: Engineer depending on the agency 3 plus years. An officer? Five or more years. So if you get on you could obtain the necessary education before your first promotional test to be in position. And, the department will pay for you to go to college.

    I've talked to a lot of candidates recently who have received or are getting their advanced degrees. With the economy and the number of regular fire/EMT jobs they can test for (about 20% of the job offerings) they wish now they had taken the medic route so they would not be wasting a lot of opportunities.
    Last edited by CaptBob; 08-31-2010 at 04:41 PM.
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    Wow that is a lot of good information to digest. I guess im trying to make a plan for myself in how to get everything done and what i need to do to get it done. I had been looking at the fire/medic side and you just solidified that for me.

    I know there isn't really an advanced Education requirement per say, but will it help get a full time position? I know it may take a little longer in the end to be able to get everything and still pull in a few years experience. But when it comes to getting a fulltime and/or promotion would it help?

    I have the means for the money (thank god for parents that thought ahead with college funds and saving) and if i really work my butt of i can prob knock out my BS and Paramedic in 5 years. but i am setting up a meeting with an academic advisor soon to see how that all works out. if i cant then i can always finish my medics while working, right?

    how does the Firefighter 1 certification work? is it just a test that you have to sit for like the EMT or is it much more involved?

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    You could do it like us old guys did. Get the education after you get a badge. It took me about 15 years to earn all that I have and still seems like it as forever to do it.

    EKY is very good. I know several who went there got a degree and came out and got a job, the degree didn't help, but they get 600 a year for the BA and 300 for the AA. Masters pay 1000 all extra money. Plus as you move up through the ranks, you will need that degree and a lot of luck too!!

    Go to it all, the Chief of the Department. Set that as your goal and objective.

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    How Young???

    Neil sounds a like like you. He was an explorer, etc.
    ________________________________________
    My friend Brent is an assistant chief for a large mid-west department. His nephew Neil admired Brent and from an early age and wanted to follow in his uncles foot steps as a firefighter. Since Brent only had daughters he referred to Neil as his son.

    While Neil was growing up he became a fire explorer, volunteer, EMT, and right out of high school set off to medic school. By the time he could take his first test he had completed an academy and was an experienced street savvy medic.

    Neil didn’t make the cut on the first 2 tests. What’s up with this? Brent asked if I could talk to him before his next dream department test. Like most candidates Neil had some great stuff he just didn’t know how to present it. One of the major errors he was making was using a lot of irritating pause fillers i.e. “You know” over and over. Neil sounded like an immature valley girl. As soon as he was aware of this mistake he immediately made the correction.

    I talked to Neil a few days later after he had practiced with a voice recorder and you would have never known this was the same candidate. He was beyond his years just turning age 21. Neil mention that his passion for get a firefighter badge was so focused that he had his high school year book picture taken wearing his volunteer turn outs. You with me here? Although we are cautious about taking pictures into an entry level oral board this was a natural exception if the opportunity came up.

    Neil was one of 5 going in for one job. By game day his confidence was back. During his oral board, none of the questions stumped him. Towards the end of the interview the HR panel member asked him why he hadn’t gone to college. Neil told him that from an early age he knew he wanted to be a firefighter. He felt the best way to reach his goal and be an asset was from the EMS side. As Neil picked up his high school year book to the page with his picture he said, “As a matter of fact I wanted this job so bad that I had my high school year book picture taken wearing my volunteer turn outs.” As the raters looked at the picture the room went silent. Next question please.

    From Neil: I just wanted to again thank you for all your time and efforts in helping me with the oral interview process. My interview went great, I could not have planned it any better. I just turned 21 and only had taken a few tests. The other day I received a call from the Chief and was offered a full time position. I start July 21st and will be sworn in next week!!! I could not have done this without your guidance. Thank you again for everything. Firefighter Neil

    Reply: Welcome to the fire service Neil.

    It doesn’t get much better.
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    Default Education

    You can not go wrong with furthering your education. I think that EKU is regionally acredited which is required if you ever seek the Executive Fire Officer program from National Fire Academy.

    I have noticed that a college education is benificial when applying for a position at a department. I have been on the interview board for hiring several times and can tell you that the candidates with the college education stand out. With the job market so competitve you will have an advantage with your degree.

    It would also be advantageous for you to have your paramedic certification. In my department 70% of our call volume is EMS and when we hire we give points for paramedics which would give you a huge advantage over the candidates without it.

    Good luck, this profession is not for everyone but for those who can do it, it is the best job ever!

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    Let me add a couple of things from a the perspective of someone who is intimately involved with the hiring and promotional process of the fire department.
    I can assure you that upon gradudation you will be absolutely looked upon differently than your competition who does not have a degree.
    The reality is that the economy is dreadful and we are not hiring. This is due in part to the fact that guys are not retiring because of the uncertainty in the economy and also because the budgets are so bad. As you know, many of us are cutting engines or trucks.

    Here is an article that I wrote regarding education. I hope it helps you work through your decison.

    The Importance of Education
    On the surface it may seem that education is not important for a firefighter.
    This is very far from the truth for several reasons. First of all, firefighters have
    evolved from “put the wet stuff on the red stuff,” to being in charge of major
    incidents involving hazardous materials or weapons of mass destruction, or
    determining paramedic level care on a gravely ill or injured patient. What do
    all of these incidents have in common? Each discipline requires knowledge
    of physics and chemistry, of course!

    Secondly, firefighters are required to write a report (which is also a legal
    document) that summarizes every emergency response. These reports are
    a direct reflection of the report writer. If a report is filled with grammatical
    and punctuation errors, the credibility of the writer is brought into question.
    Firefighters are often asked to testify in a court of law as to what occurred. A
    firefighter who authors a report riddled with errors will certainly lose credibility
    with the audience.

    Firefighters negotiate their salaries with the city, county or board. The more
    educated the firefighters are in the political process, the better they will fare
    at the bargaining table. This ultimately translates into better wages, benefits
    and working conditions.

    Is a Bachelor’s degree required prior to getting hired? The answer is no, or
    at least not in most places. Most departments require a high school diploma
    or a GED certificate. Why is there such a wide range of education levels for
    entry-level firefighters? It’s really quite simple. The person making the hiring
    decisions sets the tone as to the importance of education. If the fire chief
    values education, you can bet he or she will expect the entry-level firefighters
    to have a degree (or at least be actively working toward one) prior to getting
    hired. If, on the other hand, he or she is more mechanically inclined, education
    may not be a priority. These organizational priorities change as the fire chief
    retires, and the new fire chief will set his or her own priorities.
    I began taking my fire science courses shortly after having graduated from
    high school. I entered the fire science program at the local junior college, taking the
    six fire science and EMT prerequisite classes for the basic fire academy I
    completed the courses in two semesters and one summer session, then enterered ration
    the fire academy. Upon graduation from the fire academy and armed with 30
    units of fire science courses, I started picking away at my Associate of Science
    degree in fire science. I was fortunate enough to be hired at 20 years old by
    the Los Angeles City Fire Department as a single function paramedic. Eighteen
    months later, I was hired by Long Beach as a firefighter.

    I had great intentions of completing my Associate’s degree and ultimately
    my Bachelor’s degree. A promotion to firefighter/paramedic and ultimately to
    Captain, starting a business, becoming a husband, father and author has put
    my educational plans on hold. In short, the rigors of dealing with everyday
    life as a firefighter and the shifting schedule made it difficult to continue my
    education. Is this an excuse? No way. I firmly believe that anything can be
    accomplished once you set your mind to it.

    Is it possible to get your education after getting hired on a fire department?
    By all means, yes. At age 39, I went back to school. I earned my Bachelor’s
    degree while working as a Battalion Chief. I then earned my Masters degree while working as a Division Chief. If I can do this while working fulltime, and being a husband and father, so can you.

    In today’s day and age, the advent of the Internet makes it possible for
    a student to complete a course regardless of the time or location. There are
    numerous colleges which now offer fire science courses online. These are
    the perfect solution for a working person with a family who struggles to get
    into a structured class. The student does not have to worry about getting off
    work early, fighting traffic, paying for parking, or finding a babysitter for the
    kids. Online courses accommodate all schedules, since it does not matter
    what time of the day or night a student “logs in” to participate in the discussion
    centers. In my opinion, there is now no excuse for a person applying to fire
    departments not to have his or her education.
    In many areas of the country an Associate’s degree is the standard. If a
    candidate does not have one, the evaluator’s eyebrows are raised to question
    why he or she has not taken the time to earn one. In a few communities it is
    even required before taking the entry-level exam.

    Many new firefighters often have more advanced degrees. Although this
    depends on a myriad of different circumstances, it seems there is certainly a
    strong trend in this direction. Where do these more highly educated candidates come from? Are these the same fire science students found in the average fire science courses? No, commonly they are people who obtained a degree to enter the professional workforce as a teacher, computer specialist, stockbroker, or some other
    profession, but decided they were dissatisfied in their profession. In short,
    they decided on a career change.

    As a general rule these candidates are older than the typical applicant.
    This is substantiated by the fact that they spent four years in school earning
    their degree, followed immediately by several years in the workforce before
    deciding they missed their calling. These candidates have learned the value
    of hard work and determination. Unfortunately, their career choice was not
    satisfying for them. Oftentimes they have learned that money is not the most
    important thing after all. They have discovered that although firefighters do
    not make a great deal of money (enough to be comfortable), a firefighter’s job
    satisfaction rating is very high.

    Once these candidates “round out” their education with fire science
    courses and a fire academy, a department quickly snaps them up. These
    candidates fit the profile perfectly of the older candidate who loves his or
    her job and excels in the fire service. Fire departments across the country
    have keyed into these candidates and hire them at their first opportunity.
    A candidate who has worked in another profession usually makes a strong
    firefighter, as he or she knows what it’s like to work in a job in which there
    is minimal job satisfaction. Being a firefighter is a far cry from being trapped
    behind a desk in a cubicle.
    A firefighter with experience as a drafter, computer technician or some other
    technical field brings a great new dimension to the fire service. Where once
    firefighters struggled with computers or prefire plans, the modern firefighter
    is able to create a computer generated mock up of a building. These plans
    include locations of hazardous materials, storage of company records as
    well as locations of fire department standpipe and sprinkler connections. The
    value that these drawings bring to an incident commander huddled around
    the command post is immeasurable. All of this because the fire chief elected
    to hire a firefighter with some computer experience.
    24
    Preparation
    Most firefighter candidates should aspire to complete at least an Associate’s
    degree. Standard prerequisites such as math, English and writing are naturally
    required. Although it varies from college to college, the required courses usually
    include Introduction to Fire Science, Physics and Chemistry for Firefighters,
    Firefighter Safety, Fire Prevention, Building Construction, Fire Sprinkler
    Extinguishing Systems, Physical Fitness for Firefighters and Emergency
    Medical Technician (EMT).

    Introduction to Fire Science teaches the student the basics of how the fire
    service works. It covers the difference between a fire engine and a fire truck,
    a captain and a chief. The course usually involves a class project in which
    the student is required to knock on the door of a fire station and research a
    firefighter’s job description, regular duties and responsibilities throughout the
    course of his or her shift, the pay and benefit schedule.

    Upon completion of the project, the student knows exactly what a firefighter
    does in the course of his or her shift and how he or she is compensated. This
    course is the basic framework that will give a student the confidence to walk
    into a fire station anywhere around the country and understand the basic
    terminology and operations that all fire departments follow.

    Physics and Chemistry (sometimes called “fire chemistry”) breaks
    down the chemical processes of how a fire starts, and most importantly,
    how it can be extinguished. The course covers the different classifications
    of fire and the basics of fire behavior. It covers the law of heat transfer
    and clearly delineates how a fire spreads throughout a structure or a
    forest. The more a firefighter understands the way a fire spreads, the
    better he or she will be able to combat and ultimately extinguish it. The
    course teaches the student to interpret and understand the labels present
    on all fire extinguishers.
    Physics and Chemistry also provides a basic foundation for dealing with
    hazardous materials. Since there are so many toxic chemicals present in smoke
    (the byproduct of combustion), it is essential that a firefighter understands how
    it affects him or her. Firefighters are usually the initial response agency for
    hazardous materials incidents. This means that a firefighter must be trained
    to recognize the dangers and what needs to be done to minimize the adverse
    effects on the citizens of a community, their property and the environment.

    Firefighter safety is a critical part of our profession. Statistics show that there
    is a strong probability that during the course of a career, a firefighter is going to miss
    time from his or her work due to a job-related injury. Being a firefighter is undisputedly
    one of the most hazardous occupations in the country. The Firefighter Safety course will teach students the importance of wearing safety equipment. It will examine firefighter death and injury investigations and seek to identify how each incident could have ended positively, instead of in tragedy.

    Fire Prevention is also an important part of a firefighter’s assignment. After
    all, most mission statements have a reference to preventing fires before they
    occur. A firefighter must be able to walk into a place of business and identify
    things that are in violation of the Uniform Fire Code. Our intent is not to write
    citations, but rather to get the business owner to rectify the potential fire
    causing violation. As a firefighter our salaries are paid by thriving businesses
    in the community. Our objective is to make the businesses “fire safe” so they
    can continue to employ the citizens of our community and contribute to the tax
    base. The Fire Prevention course will teach the aspiring firefighter the basics
    of the fire code as well as many of the most common violations encountered
    by firefighters. In addition, it teaches the student how and why firefighters
    have the authority to enter a business, make recommendations and ultimately
    mandate that a business comply with the established fire codes.

    Building Construction is one of the most important classes a firefighter
    candidate will take. It is critical that a firefighter understand the basics of
    how buildings are put together, as many are killed or injured when buildings
    unexpectedly fall when subjected to fire. Students should be able to name all
    of the structural members used in the construction of a house or apartment
    building, as well as how large warehouses are constructed.

    Paul Lepore
    Division Chief
    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com

  17. #17
    FossilMedic

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    Default Go to college

    pqs359

    If your parents have saved and sacrificed so you can get a bachelor degree, I recommend that you take full advantage of this life-enhancing opportunity.

    EKU is an excellent school. The four, or five, year investment at the university will pay off better than the benefit you get by starting your firefighting career now.

    (Yeah, I sound like a parent)

    My perspective is as a retired Fire Captain II/ paramedic from a large urban county fire department and as a university professor.

    I understand your desire to start firefighting as soon as possible. I was living in a fire station while flunking out of engineering school. Took 13 years to get my bachelor's degree.

    Going to university as an 18 year old is the best investment of your time and interest.

    1) It is a unique experience that will not be duplicated when you are on the job and working to complete the degree. The journey is valuable.

    2) You have the least amount of distractions. No pregnant girlfriend, mortgage, part-time job or studying for a promotional exam.

    Many fire departments are not hiring or doing very restricted hiring for the next few years.

    Reality check, many large departments that used to run 3-8 recruit schools a year ran NO schools in the last 18 months.

    In fact, HUNDREDS of incumbent career firefighters lost their job in the past two years.

    This recession is different than the 1970s:
    Quote Originally Posted by FossilMedic on Firegeezer.com
    New York City laid off more than 40,000 employees at the start of Fiscal Year 1976. This included 1,600 FDNY firefighters. While the city hired back 700 firefighters within three days, 900 others lost their permanent firefighter jobs.

    It would take two years before the city could rehire all the laid off firefighters who reapplied to FDNY.

    http://firegeezer.com/2008/07/15/fis...mostly-cloudy/
    There are fundamental changes in fire company staffing and deployment that will last long after the recession evaporates in the next FOUR years.

    By time you complete the EKU degree, the job situation should be better.

    The value of a paramedic credential is declining.

    For the past decade I have told wanna-be career firefighters to get their paramedic credentials. In some departments, a white male with a paramedic card would be selected over a diversity candidate without a paramedic card.

    Not anymore

    The expense of maintaining paramedic certification, and the surprising impact of patient outcome studies, is impacting 2010 and later hiring decisions.

    Departments that REQUIRED paramedic credentials for new firefighters have relaxed or eliminated that requirement. Like Baltimore City.

    Patient outcome data shows a high value of quick response of a defibrillator-equipped first responder vehicle delivering fast uninterrupted chest compressions. We no longer need to staff as many paramedic ambulances to maintain an 8 minute response time. Like Kansas City, where the fire department took over the MAST ambulance service May 2010.

    The recession is reducing the number of paramedic-staffed ambulances, even after a multiple year high-profile effort to improve 9-1-1 service. Like Los Angeles City.

    Large municipalities are meeting with for-profit national 9-1-1 ambulance providers to consider replacing the fire-staffed ambulances with AMR or Rural-Metro units. Need far fewer paramedic/firefighters if we are just providing first responder service.

    Most wanna-be career firefighters get their paramedic credential to get on the job, then spend years whining and seeing how soon they can get off the "box." What a profound waste of your time.

    It takes 18 months of pretty intense study to be a paramedic. If out-of-hospital patient care is NOT one of your burning desires, then get that EKU Fire Safety Admin degree.

    What about my Firefighter I training?

    I appreciate that a West Coast (Capt Bob) model is that candidates apply for work WITH these credentials. East of the Rockies, large departments will hire you and THEN PAY you to obtain your firefighter and emt training in their fire academy.

    In fact, most big city departments are not interested in your volunteer experience and training. It does not provide preferential consideration.

    Existing credentials and experience are a consideration in smaller and growing departments where they do not have the resources to run a recruit school. They are looking for work-ready candidates.

    During your second and third year at EKU, research where you want to live and which department you want to work for. Visit these departments during your summer break. Visit a bunch of fire stations, get an application package, prepare for the CPAT if needed.

    Determine what the requirements are and, if that is your dream location, commit to meeting those requirements.

    Good luck with your adventure!

    Mike Ward

    Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine
    The George Washington University
    http://home.gwu.edu/~mikeward/

    author, Fire Officer: Principles and Practice

    FossilMedic on Firegeezer.com.
    Last edited by MikeWard; 09-05-2010 at 10:59 PM. Reason: edits, typos, obsessive-compulsive tweaks

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    Mike,
    Congratulations on the new book. STRONG WORK!!!!
    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCLepore View Post
    Mike,
    Congratulations on the new book. STRONG WORK!!!!
    Thanks, the second edition is MUCH better.

    Was cringing when reading the first chapters I submitted eight years ago!

    Mike

  20. #20
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    I know exactly what you mean. The revised edition of our work is much bettter that the original.
    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com

  21. #21
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    Jun 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by pqs359 View Post
    So I decided to go to EKU for a 4 year Fire safety Admin degree. I really debated doing the degree or just going through the dept. and getting my fire 1, fire 2, ect... so in this debate i am still comparing with friends who went the other route and went with the department. I will be joining the AFST and they do regular trainings but i still dont really know. any advice that anyone ha will help me out.

    My main questions are:

    -what do i come out with after 4 years? i know i will have a degree with my name on it, but what does that mean in the fire field.

    -Because of the degree how do I have to work out my Firefighter 1, ect...? I dont really understand the certification, will i be able to take a test or will i have more classes to go through?

    -lastly, Any suggestions for me as i go through this? What should i be doing to try an get myself ready to go once i get out of school. I.E. summers, weekend, nights, any ideas really.

    Thanks for your time and any advice that you may have
    Just to let you know, i attend EKU, so if you need something just PM me. The real reason I am posting is to let you know (if you dont know already)that Richmond Fire offers a Co-Op/Internship. Look for the posting around April as there are going to be quite a few positions to fill for next year. If you want more information just ask. I think this would be a great opportunity for you considering that your a freshmen, once you get the Co-Op position you can keep the Co-op till you graduate if you so desired.

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