1. #1
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    Default Illinois FF/PMD needing career advice

    Iím currently going through really bad depression and need some advice. Iím a 24 year old firefighter/ paramedic from Illinois. I got started in the fire service 5 years ago at a volunteer fire dept. Last year I reached my goal of becoming a full- time firefighter/ paramedic for a fire department in Illinois. Two months into my probationary period I was arrested and charged with a DUI. After an investigation was conducted the Fire chief forced me to resign. The reasoning behind this was that I would have a month of hard time where I wouldnít be able to drive according to the secretary of state and an extra month of disciplinary action from the FD. The Chief told me that two months was too long for me to be out during my probationary period (understandable). I took this with a grain of salt and went on my way.

    After months and months of being unsuccessful at finding non fire/ ems employment I am having a mental breakdown. I have been to court and been placed on court supervision for 2 years with fines. The judge informed me that no conviction will be entered and only the arrest will show up on my record.

    After doing some soul searching I was thinking of possible career changes. My father mentioned to me I should try becoming a physicianís assistant with my background in EMS. After giving it some thought, I just canít do it. I have an associateís degree in fire science, a bachelors in fire service management and i'm currently working on my masters in emergency services management. Iíve came too far to just throw my dream away over ONE stupid mistake.

    Just wondering if any of you have any advice? Do you think I should start testing again? Will a FD hire me with this background and arrest on my record? I have beaten myself up over this numerous times. I have been verbally abused by family and friends over this incident so I would appreciate if you left out any criticism. Thanks

    p.s. If you are a chief or in administration, I could really use your advice.

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    Anything is possible but however most departments wont hire someone who was fired from another fire department or EMS agency it usually a automatic dis-qualifier. You might have luck on smaller department however. Also a lot of department having a DUI within a certain amount of time is a dis-qualifier. You will just have to look at the departments requirement and explain you situation to hr or the chief and see if they thing you should even apply. You also have to think of it this way you go against someone with a clean record and you with getting fired and having a DUI who would you pick. But anything can happen so I would say its still worth a try.

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    Thanks for your input. I really appreciate it. I forgot to mentoin, a couple other firefighters from the same dept have gotten DUI's and are somehow still on the job. One guy in particular has gotten TWO and is still working.

    I personally think i should have been given another chance. The chief who fired me knew he was probally ending my career and ruining my life, he just didnt want to admit it. He tried to say another fire dept would be glad to have me and i have the skills to make it in another dept. (yeah right, well see about that)

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    No offense but sounds like he was looking for a reason to get rid of you.

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    You should feel lucky that they treated you the way they did instead of firing you the minute you got to work for your next shift which they are well within their rights to do because as a probationary firefighter you are an at will employee. You were given the chance to have the best job in the world and the only one you have to blame for losing it is yourself. Yes there are some others on your department that may have gotten DUI's too but if they are not on probation then their off duty infraction is harder to fire them. Why can't people take responsability for their own actions, you drank , you drove and you got arrested. Yuo can try testing again but it is going to be tough but it is possible to get hired at another department even after losing your job. If you make it to the interview I would explain what happened, own up to your mistake and let them know that you are a changed person now, hopefully, and see where it goes from there.

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    Yes i do take full responsibility for my actions. Most guys probally think, "he got his chance and he screwed it up". I know soooo many guys who drink and drive in the fire service on a weekly basis. I was just the unfortunate one to get caught. I only drank maybe once a month if not less. I can proudly say that i havent takin a drink of alcohol and i wont until i turn 35 without being hired again and become a bum.

    It just sucks to know just last year i was "that guy" taking millions of test and doing everything i could to set myself apart from other applicants. Now i'm a failure and just took a million steps backwards. SOOOOO F'n stressful.

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    You need to put it behind you, it is over and there is nothing you can do about the fact that it happened. What you can do is pick it up and do something positive in the mean time.

    You can't dwell on this though, because that is not helping anything. You can't count solely on one career to make you happy, there are many other jobs out there. I know when I was applying, some departments would still hire you with a DUI, but I think it had to be at least 5 years ago. Just try to find something decent to fill in the gap and keep applying.

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    Honestly, it's time to move on, at least for now. If you've only been off the job for less than a year, then that's hardly anytime to atone for your mistake. You even admit you're on court supervision for the next two years. You'll need, on average, at -least- five years before you'll be considered for employment by a FD. Additionally, with the job market so tight, employers are able to weed out the best of the best applicants. Your DUI puts you towards the bottom.

    Justifying it with "I know soooo many guys who drink and drive in the fire service on a weekly basis. I was just the unfortunate one to get caught." is bull carp. You were unfortunate, the rest of us were fortunate that your drunk driving butt was dragged off the road. There is no excuse for DUI. Period.

    On the positive note, look at it this way. Consider what would have happened if you stayed on the job, and had a disabling injury that prevented you from returning to the fire service. What would you do for another career? How would you change your life? Why did you get into the fire service, to fight fires for fun, to help people, or just to ride the big red trucks. If it was to help people, then there are plenty of other ways to do that without wearing bunker gear and dragging hose. Consider the non-suppression activities (prevention, inspection, education, intervention) that you can participate in. Take your "down time" and work on getting another skill. Fire Departments love to hire welders, plumbers, electricians, construction folks, and people with other technical skills that can be applied to the fire service. Make yourself as competitive as possible in the time you have "off" from the Fire Service.

    Only time and changed behavior will mitigate your past behavior.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hardtimesff View Post
    Thanks for your input. I really appreciate it. I forgot to mentoin, a couple other firefighters from the same dept have gotten DUI's and are somehow still on the job. One guy in particular has gotten TWO and is still working.

    I personally think i should have been given another chance. The chief who fired me knew he was probally ending my career and ruining my life, he just didnt want to admit it. He tried to say another fire dept would be glad to have me and i have the skills to make it in another dept. (yeah right, well see about that)
    Its a lot harder to get a job with a DUI arrest than it is to keep a job after you have been arrested. Some departments will allow you to keep your job if you get a DUI, however they may not fire someone that has a DUI.

    You stated in your first post that you were arrested for DUI, but not convicted. This will help you a lot. I would try to get it expundged, removing the arrest from your record. It will be years before you have an actually chance at getting hired with a career department. While you might not be convicted of DUI, you are quilty of DUI. I know several of guys that were not been convicted, however I don't know any DUI arrest that are were not guilty.

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    sounds like

    keep going to school and get your four year degree

    check different cities to see what their policy is as far as dui, some will say no, some will say after so many years

    once you find out start testing where they will accept you and also apply your degree in a related field, may not be fire related, but

    you will have a job, and you may find out you enjoy it

    also look outside your state for fire department jobs.

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    Seems as if the replies in this thread are 50/50, which is kind of what I expected. I appreciate all the feedback, even from the guys who think I’m a moron. Be safe out there guys!

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    I have a couple of thoughts on the issue. First and foremost you stated that the Fire Chief ruined your life.

    WRONG - it was your POOR CHOICE that forced the fire chief to have to make the decision to terminate your employment. You need to take responsibility for your actions.

    Here is the reality of the situation - you are two months into your probation and you get a DUI. You are on probation and this is the best you can do?

    You were hired to fill a position. Now the Fire Chief is forced to fill your spot and pay time and one half. Not only that, but he has to explain to the City Manager how/why he hired you in the first place. All this while the city is paying for your health care benefits and for your retirement....

    Secondly, depending on the state you are not permitted to drive with a DUI. A drivers license is a requirement for the job, without it you are not permitted to work.

    There are exceptions to every rule and there is a chance that someone may hire you. I can tell you that you would not pass a background check in my region....Oh by the way, there is no such thing as an expunged record.
    Last edited by paulLepore; 03-16-2011 at 08:40 AM.
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    Plus, don't forget your fellow applicants to the job you had, who probably really wanted it as much as you, but weren't going to endanger the public.

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    There will be hundreds of applicants with spotless records for every job you apply for from here on out. Who do you think Departments are going to hire- the guy(s) with the spotless record, or the guy with the arrest?

    No offense kid, but maybe you should lisent to your father and look into that PA thing.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post

    No offense kid, but maybe you should lisent to your father and look into that PA thing.
    Better job security too, I imagine.

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    I just checked into getting in the military. Seems like its going to be just as hard as finding another fire service job (next to impossible). I might as well get ready for my wonderful career at mcdonalds.

    Just my .02 cents- If you get a DUI you might as well kill yourself. No matter how hard you try to make things better everyone will always look down on you, your life will be shi**y and you will never make any money. At least this is my experience so far.

    Oh yeah, and most PA programs dont accept students with any arrest on thier record. So i can scratch that idea also. FML

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    Default Wait a minute...

    I believe this guy asked in his first post not to be berated about the DUI, and he has obviously taken responsibility for it... so lay off!
    Hardtimesff- You sound really depressed about all of this and you need to talk to someone (professionally) about it. This mistake you made will hinder you in finding fire service employment, but does not exclude you from consideration in many departments. I work with someone who got a DUI a few months before they were hired. It will take a lot of work, but you can sell yourself as someone who has taken responsibility and and will make good choices in the future. Let me know if I can provide any more advice...

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