1. #1
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    Talking Volunteering or...

    going to college. or both? haha

    My question is, since i want to become a firefighter in the future (im 16 at the moment) is there a certain path i should follow? There are a lot of different ways to go that i can see, such as going to a Community college and get the degree's or get my EMT first. Then there's volunteer work which is experience and i heard that some will pay for the training and all of that. I'm having a hard time deciding which way to go as I'm heading toward the last year of high school.

    So... What would you do?

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    If there is a local fire academy that you can go to I would do that when you come of age. If there is a volunteer department that you can be a junior at until you can go to academy I would do that as well. I do recommend not to do fire academy and EMT school at the same time. If anything I would do fire academy first then EMT school and then consider getting your paramedic. Most paid departments won't hire anyone under 21 so you should have some time to get all this stuff.

    But mainly find out what your local departments require. Both volunteer and the paid ones. Volunteering now as a junior before going to academy will get you at least some experience and it will allow you to find out if this is something that you really want to do. I hate for you to go through all this schooling and then first day on the job get a call that makes you unable to continue.

    By the way this is just advice so take it for what you will. I would try talking to your local departments and see what they recommend. They will know the area departments and schools and they should be able to give you advice on which ones to seek out and which ones to avoid.

    Good luck.
    NREMT-P\ Reserve Volunteer Firefighter\Reserve Police Officer
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    Experts built the Titanic, amateurs built the Ark.

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    I'm going to college right now and just joined up with a volunteer department nearby, and I'm actually starting training tomorrow, 8am sharp. It's definitely a possibility to do the two. I kind of wish I had decided on the career path earlier, in which case I may have done things a little differently. Maybe get a degree in fire science or EMT.
    :-J Remmy

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    What state are you in?????

    What is needed just to apply in your state/ cities???

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    Quote Originally Posted by halotalo View Post
    going to college. or both? haha

    My question is, since i want to become a firefighter in the future (im 16 at the moment) is there a certain path i should follow? There are a lot of different ways to go that i can see, such as going to a Community college and get the degree's or get my EMT first. Then there's volunteer work which is experience and i heard that some will pay for the training and all of that. I'm having a hard time deciding which way to go as I'm heading toward the last year of high school.

    So... What would you do?
    Since you're only 16, you have plenty of time to reach your goal so no need to rush a decision.

    I'll assume that your intention is to become a career firefighter. I'll offer some general advice since I don't know any specifics about your situation.

    1) Finding employment as a career firefighter can be a long drawn out process, easily lasting several years or not result in employment. Some departments require you to be at least 21 to apply and some smaller career departments may require prior experience to apply. Plus, unless this economy turns around soon, layoffs and cutbacks will continue and hiring will slow down even more in many places.

    2) If the opportunity to join a volunteer fire department exists for you, then I'd recommend pursuing that. For one, it will give you the chance to see some aspects of "the job" from the inside and may help you to decide if this really is a career you want to pursue. Second, even though you may still have to go thru a department's training academy, whatever experience you gain as a volunteer will probably be a benefit as long as you keep your mouth closed and mind open during the academy because they likely won't care about how your VFD did things.

    3) If the opportunity to attend college is there, then go to school!!! Take a good look around and find a school that is a good fit. There are some good schools out there with fire service related degrees. However, you may not want to "put all your eggs in one basket" so to speak with a fire service specific degree in case that career path doesn't work out. There are other degrees that you could pursue that could still be beneficial down the road for a career in the fire service, but also be helpful for other career paths.

    4) In general, attending college and membership in a VFD is very doable. There are many VFDs that offer "live-in" programs, predominately for college students. Basically, you live at the fire station free of charge in exchange for running calls and doing some station chores.

    5) Get your EMT. You can probably get it now, however you would probably not be able to function as a primary care provider on an EMS unit until you are 18.

    6) Don't rush to get a Paramedic certification. It's a well known fact that many departments give hiring preference to Paramedics. However, you should have a good bit of experience as an EMT before tackling Paramedic. Paramedic students with poor EMT skills typically will have poor paramedic skills.

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    Volunteering will let you know whether this is the right career for you in the first place. You will have no problem doing both. I'd go for your EMT Certification your first semester of college because you can get an EMT job at 18 but most Fire jobs require you to be 21. If I were you I'd take it during my senior year of high school, that's what many of my friends did. Then go for your paramedic, in my opinion a paramedic certification is looked on much more favorably than a fire science or emergency management degree.
    I don't know where you live but definitely look for "live-in" programs. Best way to gain experience.

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    Some colleges even offer EMT for credit - use it as an elective and kill two birds with one stone.

    If there are volunteer departments around your chosen college (or the one you end up at), they're probably used to having some college kids around whether they have a bunk-in program or not. Unless your predecessors have really screwed things up, you'll likely be welcomed with open arms.

    Once in you can take advantage of any and all training the offer.

    A caveat - for most volunteer departments the training, formal or not, goes on at night. Keep that in mind as you pick your classes - ie, don't load up on night courses so you can sleep in in the morning...
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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