Thread: Can I get some advice?
07-01-2011, 12:35 PM #1
- Join Date
- Dec 2010
Can I get some advice?
Ok so Im new to firefighting but I have fallen in love with it. I'm wanting to go full time when i turn 18 but i need a little help. Everybody tells me its hard to find a full time firefighting job but im gonna try my hardest to find one. I'm wanting to get my degree in fire science but i dont know if it will help me out any when applying for full time. Should i jsut get up to FF2 and apply or get my degree in fire science. What do you guys think? is it that hard to find a job and should i go ahead with the degree?
07-01-2011, 01:17 PM #2
Slow down and catch your breath.
You will be judged on how you write and speak. Go back and review what you wrote in your haste. Run-on sentences will kill you in any narrative.
Yes it is tough to find a firefighter job, but if you don't try, you won't get it. The fire science degree will not help you at entry level, but will help down the road for promotions; i.e. Chief officer or Fire Marshal. College is a good idea if you have opportunity and the funds.
Since you're not yet 18, no doubt you are confused. Of course once you do reach 18, (if you're the typical 18 year old), you'll be smarter then everyone else.
Good luck, and learn to breath between long sentences.HAVE PLAN.............WILL TRAVEL
07-01-2011, 01:43 PM #3"If it was easy, someone else would of done it already." - Lt. Ray McCormack FDNY
- Firefighter 1 / HAZMAT Ops / EMT-B
07-01-2011, 01:59 PM #4
- Join Date
- Dec 2010
Thanks for the advice. I do have the fund for college, so i'm thinking I will go ahead and get a degree. Alot of paid fire dept's in South Carolina only require you to be 18. I'm moving pretty fast with getting all my certifications so by the time I am 18 I more than likely will be FF2. That way when i graduate I can go straight to getting my degre.
07-01-2011, 02:15 PM #5
I would also suggest you look into local volunteer fire departments in your area. You can get some experience and find out if it's something you want to pursue.So you call this your free country
Tell me why it costs so much to live
07-01-2011, 02:15 PM #6
Anytime. Best of luck."If it was easy, someone else would of done it already." - Lt. Ray McCormack FDNY
- Firefighter 1 / HAZMAT Ops / EMT-B
07-01-2011, 03:02 PM #7
A lot of departments hire at 18 years of age. This doesn't mean when you hit that magic number, you have a job.
Get your education first and a four year degree. You may want to enlist in the military for several years and get that experience as well. Get any and all EMS certifications.
This would help you in the process of getting a job as it shows you have a well thought plan for your life.
Most large urban departments will train you the way they want you trained and certify you.Stay Safe and Well Out There....
Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers
07-01-2011, 04:05 PM #8
GO TO COLLEGE!!!!!! Not only will it you find a job, it will also help you with the rest of your life. What happens if you can't find a firefighting job? Do you really want to work at McDonald's for the rest of your life? Go to college and get degree. That's my advice.Firefighting - one of the few professions left that still makes house calls.
07-01-2011, 05:21 PM #9
- Join Date
- Nov 2009
What if any certs are required in your state / cities just to apply????
Also besides certs you need to get into physical shape
07-02-2011, 12:16 AM #10
Who says you'll even find an FD job in the same state where you got your certs? Chances are, if you really want a firefighting job, you might have to look on a national level. Any certs you do now may not carry over. Go to college!Firefighting - one of the few professions left that still makes house calls.
07-02-2011, 01:30 AM #11
- Join Date
- Jan 2007
research areas you'd like to work in, and if you meet the requirements and they offer a test TAKE IT. Do all the other stuff, get certs, get your degree, do everything else you think will help make you marketable, but take every test you can. You'll need the practice taking tests and you'll need to better your chances.
07-02-2011, 02:51 PM #12
Like has been said a firefighting degree won't mean much to a bigger department as far as hiring. You are 18. If you are really serious about getting on a dept join the military as a medic. Get nationally registered as a paramedic. Then when you get out you will have medic experience, you will have veteran's preferene points, you will have the satisfaction of serving your country and an opportunity to mature and learn discipline. All thing fire depts like to see in applicants. And while you are testing for departments you can get on a fire dept as a medic and then transfer to the fire side. This would be your best bet if you are truly serious about joining a fire dept.
07-02-2011, 03:09 PM #13
<iframe width="425" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/nfHOQAT0-Mk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>Co 11
Virginia Beach FD
Amateurs practice until they get it right; professionals practice until they cannot get it wrong. Which one are you?
'The fire went out and nobody got hurt' is a poor excuse for a fireground critique.
07-03-2011, 09:53 AM #14
I started as an explorer when I was 14 then got on a department when I was 18. I consider myself extremely lucky that I got a paid firefighting job a week before I turned 20.
Every area is different. Here, it helped that I had some prior experience and all of my certs, other places it won't make any difference, they will send you to the academy anyways.------------------------------------
These opinions are mine and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations I am affiliated with.
07-03-2011, 07:19 PM #15
I like your drive, it's rare to see any drive other than playing X-Box or Playstation by anyone your age anymore.
The advice so far has been great. The biggest thing you can do is NOT type as if you were texting.....without proper punctuation, English or spelling.
GO TO COLLEGE!!! At least an Associates Degree, but preferably a Bachelors. This will help you gain some life experience, maturity, and it shows that you obtained higher education. It will help later on for promotions. While you go to college you can join a volunteer department and maybe you can get some practical experience at the same time.
DO NOT GET into any sort of trouble. Any sort of criminal history will prevent you from getting into the fire service or EMS field.
Joining the military is a great option too. It creates discipline and you get your training and experience for free! Most places give you veteran points too.
Attitude is everything. Remember that.Jason Knecht
Altoona Fire Dept.
IACOJ - Director of Cheese and Whine
EAT CHEESE OR DIE!!
07-05-2011, 12:18 PM #16
- Join Date
- Dec 2010
Man, I cant thank you guys enough!!!
Im right now on two volunteer dept's, and I love everything about it. I do believe the fire service is for me. My parents are gonna pay for my college, so of course im planning on atleast getting my associates degree. I still have one more year until I graduate high school, so I believe I have enough time to really think it through.
07-05-2011, 12:34 PM #17
- Join Date
- Aug 2010
07-05-2011, 01:21 PM #18
- Join Date
- Jun 2007
Enlist in the active military for three years after high school and you will be out by the time you are old enough to buy a six pack. The military is the one thing that can make you a better candidate for every department. I'm sure most will agree that the veteran who is working towards a degree/certs is a far more attractive candidate than the non vet who already has them. I cannot stress the benefits of military experience enough. This is the time for you to do it.
07-05-2011, 02:23 PM #19
- Join Date
- Nov 2009
Sorry but the military is not for everyone
Talk about getting into a world of (s. T)if you have not researched the military
07-05-2011, 05:59 PM #20
- Join Date
- Jun 2007
Last edited by StayingPatient; 07-05-2011 at 06:01 PM.
07-05-2011, 06:34 PM #21
- Join Date
- Mar 2003
Here is an article I wrote to help point aspiring firefighters in the right direction. Good luck to you.
This sample Firefighter Two-Year Plan was developed with input from Mike
Sarjeant, a Deputy Chief on the Long Beach, California, Fire Department.
If still in high school look into a Regional Occupational Program
Many local fire departments have community outreach recruitment
Graduate from high school or obtain your GED.
A diploma is much preferred.
Talk with a counselor at a community college that offers fire science
Set up a course curriculum that allows you to obtain a two-year degree in
fire science. If the local college does not offer a fire science program, find
one that does.
This curriculum should also allow you to complete the prerequisite courses
for a fire academy.
Take an Emergency Medical Technician Course (EMT).
This will accomplish a few things. First of all, it is a course required by most
departments. It will also let you know if this profession is for you. If you find
you can’t handle the sight of blood or helping people during crises, the fire
service may not be for you.
Enroll in a state certified fire academy.
Many departments require completion of a Firefighter 1 Academy prior to
taking the entry-level exam.
Completion of a fire academy prior to being hired will greatly enhance
a candidate’s chance of successfully completing the fire department’s
academy. Many fire departments have a 25-30% failure rate.
Find out if your community has either a fire department volunteer
program or Fire Explorers.
Volunteering in the fire department is an excellent way to gain real life
experience. This exposure will also allow you to determine if this is
indeed the right career choice for you.
Volunteer in your community.
Find something that you are interested in and volunteer your time:
church, sports, hospital, YMCA, Red Cross, etc. It doesn’t matter.
Get involved. Volunteering is something that should be done because
it’s the right thing to do, not because it will look good on a firefighter
application. Firefighters are self-motivated and have historically been involved in
their communities. The perception is that if you are helping out in your
community now, you will be the type who will likely continue to stay
involved after you are hired, helping out in various committees and
groups both on and off the job.
Visit the local fire stations.
Interview the firefighters and elicit their help in planning your career
path. It is a tremendous compliment to the firefighters to have someone
aspire to be in their position. Visiting the fire stations will help you learn
about the job and the culture of the fire service. In addition, you will
learn of things that you could be doing to enhance your chances of
getting hired. Ultimately, when the department hires, you will be in a
good position since the firefighters have gotten to know you and have
taken the time to mentor you. There is nothing better than a “home
Prepare for a fire department interview.
Consider the reasons why you want to become a firefighter and be
able to express them. Do your research and learn the rules of the road
concerning the interview process. Participate in “mock” interviews with
Start a log that includes everything you have done to prepare yourself.
Include details, dates and names of instructors. Include any personal
experiences that may be pertinent to becoming a firefighter.
A few examples of this could be:
You witnessed a car accident and were able to render aid.
You volunteered your time at the Boys and Girls Club.
You experienced a life-changing event.
You were voted most inspirational on your athletic team or your fire
Your high school athletic team won the championship.
You were a lifeguard at the city pool.
Anything that you think might be significant. There are no rules. Write
This information will go on your resume, or may be speaking points in
an interview. This is preparing you to answer difficult questions in an
interview, such as, “Please share with the panel a stressful time in your
life and how you dealt with it.”
The log should just be an easy and accessible memory jogger for you. If
you are comfortable with a pencil and notepad, keep them in your room
in a convenient spot so you won’t forget to use them. If you are more
comfortable on the computer, then use it to formulate your thoughts
Get in shape.
Firefighting is a very physical job requiring peak physical strength and
endurance. If you are not in good physical condition, it will become very
evident during the physical ability testing or the pre-hire medical exam. It
is also important to look as if you are physically prepared for the job.
If you see a firefighter who looks out of shape, don’t look at him and
think, “If he got hired, so can I!” Odds are he was in better physical
condition when he was first hired. You are trying to do everything you
can to improve your chances. This is a very important part that you
have complete control over.
Look the part!
The rule of thumb in an interview is to hire someone who you can see
becoming a member of your crew tomorrow. A candidate who walks
in with excessive facial hair, large tattoos or body piercing that is not
permitted by the department’s policies presents as a candidate who
is not ready for the position. Do not make the mistake of saying that
you will remove them when you are ready to be hired. You are making
a statement. It is important to understand that the fire department is a
paramilitary organization. These will definitely not improve your chances
Invest in a suit and tie. Although not required for the interview, a
candidate who does not wear one stands out. First impressions are
critical. Make sure the suit is conservative, not flashy.
Dress professionally whenever you will have contact with members of
the department. This includes station visits. Remember, it is important
to make a good first impression.
Enroll in a service that lets you know which departments are testing.
There are several businesses on the Internet that will inform you of
which departments are testing and what their requirements are.
Most departments test every two to three years. They will then hire from
the “eligibility list” until it expires. The window to file an application is
usually very small, ranging from as short as one day to as long as 30
days. Once the filing period is closed, the department will not accept
any more applications. If you don’t have a subscription to one of these
services, you will miss a lot of opportunities.
Talk to your family.
The decision to become a firefighter is a monumental one. It will most
likely be a long road that requires a lot of time and sacrifice. If you don’t
have a family or friend support network, it will become extremely difficult.
Most importantly, if your spouse does not support your decision, you
are destined for failure.
Surround yourself with reputable people.
A firefighter position is a life choice, not just a job. You must be prepared
to live your life with excellent moral and ethical values. For this you will
need the support of family and friends who are good role models. If your
friends are not a positive influence in the community, you may want to
find a new set of friends. Remember the old saying, “Birds of a feather
flock together.” A background check will scrutinize not only you, but also
the company you keep.
Learn a trade.
Woodworking, framing, electrical, plumbing, welding and automotive are
all common examples of a trade. Firefighting is a very physical job that
requires good psychomotor skills and a hands-on approach. Typically
those who have learned a trade possess these applicable job skills. If
you know how a building is constructed, you will be able to predict how
a fire will travel through it. If you know where the electrical and plumbing
is typically run behind the drywall, you will most likely know where it
would be safe to open it up. You will also have become very comfortable
with power tools. The importance of being able to work with your hands
cannot be overstated.
If you don’t currently have this kind of experience, start taking classes
in a trade at your community college. You will at least learn the
basics. Back this up with some real life practical experience. It will be
invaluable knowledge and will play out well in an interview. Mechanical
aptitude cannot be learned in an Internet class or while sitting behind
Improve your public speaking skills.
If you are uncomfortable getting up in front of a group, you must take
steps to overcome your fear. The largest percentage of the testing
process is the interview and ultimately a large part of the job deals with
public speaking! You won’t talk a fire out, but you will talk to different
groups about how to prevent them. If you can present yourself well in
an interview, you are leaps and bounds ahead of the others who can’t.
Even if the other candidates have more experience than you, the job
will usually be awarded to the candidate who can present him or herself
in a clear and concise manner.
If public speaking is your downfall, it is imperative to join Toastmasters
or take some courses at your community college. A speech and debate
class is an excellent way to get over the jitters. Acting or drama classes
can also be an excellent way to feel more comfortable in front of a
Teaching others can also help you learn to think on your feet. Whether
you are teaching CPR and First Aid or your local Sunday school class,
it will help you learn to present information clearly and field questions.
A typical interview question might be, “What do you consider a weakness
about yourself?” Your answer could be, “I used to feel uncomfortable
getting up and speaking in front of a group. I knew this was a very
important part of my chosen vocation. I took several classes at my
community college to help improve my comfort level. Since then I feel
much more confident in my ability to speak in public.”
You can have all of the best traits in the world, but if you can’t effectively
convey them in an interview they will go unnoticed. Now that’s turning
a negative into a positive!
Maintain a clean driving and criminal record.
It goes without saying that firefighters are held to a standard that is
much higher than the average citizen. The road is littered with firefighter
candidates who have failed their background check due to a poor driving
or criminal record.
Maintain a good credit history.
Your credit history is a reflection of your reliability, honesty, organization
and attention to detail.
Update your resume.
Make sure your resume has no technical or grammatical errors, is well
organized and comprehensive. Ask reliable friends or family to proofread
Improve your Education
Got to school! Earn your Associates degree. If you already have one consider earning your Master’s degree. You must understand that many Chief Officers either are currently working on a Bachelors, had one when they started in the fire service, or earned one while working as a firefighter. You are in a bad position when asked about your educational plan and you do not have one.
Recruit fire academies are very academically challenging. You must have the academic background to make us believe that you can read technical information one night and be tested on it the next day. Additionally, we are looking for people who we can send to Paramedic or Hazardous Materials School. The more education you have, the better chance you will have of making it through tough academic programs.
Consider Becoming a Paramedic
A paramedic license will absolutely help you stand above the competition on most fire departments. DO NOT go to paramedic school just because you think it will help you get hired. Go because you like running EMS calls and would like to better be able to treat sick people.
Paramedic school is very tough. Do not go unless you are a very strong EMT and are ready!Paul Lepore
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