I was wondering if there is someone out there who can give me some information on being a firefighter in the federal system ie; civilian jobs on Army or Navy bases etc. I understand that it can be difficult to get into the system but is it worth the effort. And finally is it easier to move from state to state? For example once you are in the system would you be able to earn "preference points" for openings across the nation.
To be clear I am not looking for information on a career in wildland firefighting. Thanks in advance for any information.
The answers to many of your questions can be found in the Federal/Military FF's Threads, here: http://www.firehouse.com/forums/f300/
I was a Federal FF for 10 years. In some ways it was a good life, in many it was not. Personally I felt the cons (in conjunction with an old back injury) made me want to seek employment elsewhere, even if it meant giving up a career position. 24 on, 24 off was ok when I was single, but it sucks for someone with a very young family with the need for both Mommy and Daddy to have full-time employment. Nowadays, many Federal Installations are switching to 48/72 or even 48/96, which again would probably be very hard for someone with small children and a 2-income family. Whenever I would bitch about 24/24 to the old guys I worked with, they would say "son I have been doing it for 20+ years....." Then I would reply "yeah, but the cost of living when you were raising your kids was a lot lower and Momma could stay at home with them." Then they would say "hmmmmm true that." But thats just me. Many have made it work well for their families.
Getting in is dependent upon the needs of the hiring authority. Are they hiring someone that they can train (GS03 or GS04 trainee?) or do they need a fully qualified applicant that they can put right into a jumpseat? (GS06/07/08 Firefighter/EMT or Firefighter/Paramedic?)
If they are hiring at the 6/7/8 levels, you need to have all of your DOD Approved Certs (IFSAC or Pro-Board) prior to getting hired. This can include, but is not limited to:
-ARFF FF (if req'd)
-Haz Mat Tech
-National EMT-B or EMT-B for the state the base is in, or paramedic if reqd
-Driver/Operator Pumps/Aerials (and ARFF if req'd)
-Fire Inspector I, maybe II
-Fire Officer I, maybe II
-All of the ICS requirements
There might be a few others. Perhaps someone else will chime in. Pay: when I resigned my position, I was a GS7 step 4 Driver/Operator, and I made a hair under 60K my last year. This included the Baltimore Area regional pay, as well as my overtime and other pay increases/allotments.
As far as actually getting in, for a first time applicant, the process can be intimidating. Follow ALL instructions to the crossed T and dotted i. Attention to detail is crucial. Also, most bases require a security clearance, some bases much more so than others- so if you have any kind of a questionable past or background, be prepared for rejection.
It is also very political in that some cases, the base fire chief has already selected who he wants to hire even before the opening is announced. Thats not to say it happens all the time however. Give it your best shot. The more you apply, the better you become at the process.
Being in the system may or may not give you an advantage when transferring in between bases or state to state. See above.
Post any other questions you may have in the Federal/Military Section.
buff covered about all the bases
yes compared to a city postion it is easier to move from state to state
and that is a faster way to advance up the pay scale
agree hours are bad and you work for "Congress"
Thanks for the information I appreciate your input.