1. #1
    tcd
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    Question Need Advice: 41yrs old & becoming a firefighter.

    Hi All,

    As the thread's title says, I'm 41yrs old and want to become a firefighter. I have a bachelor's degree and currently work as an operations manager in the biotech industry. Although it's late in the game, I've come to realize that I desperately want to be doing something that has, shall we say, greater meaning. That's not to say that other professions, whatever they may be, aren't just as valid, but for me, what I do for a living simply benefits my employer's bottom line in return for a paycheck. I want more than that.

    That said, I have a couple of options that I'd like to get feedback on.

    At the very least I want to become a volunteer or part-time firefighter, but eventually I would love to transition that to a career full-time position. Either way, I gotta walk before I run, right? So here goes:

    Plan A:

    1. Complete EMT-B course at local community college.
    2. Sign up for a volunteer position that offers training. Some FD's in my area offer free training to become certified as an Intermediate Firefighter.
    3. Once FF training is complete begin taking EMT-P courses and/or continue FF training for additional certifications.
    4. Spend a year volunteering and continuing EMT & FF education.
    5. Begin testing and searching for a career position.

    Plan B:

    Plan B is essentially the same except I would sign up for a more accelerated FF training regime from a private firm such as trainingdivision.com. This would get me trained for multiple certs in a shorter period of time (around 3-4 months versus 6-10 months training at a local FD).

    While I like the idea of getting my FF certs quicker, I also feel that training on-site with a local FD, over a longer period of time, might better prepare me than online study followed by 2wks of intensive hands-on work at the end.

    My ultimate goal would be to transition to a full-time career position within 3 years. Any and all advice is welcome.

    Thanks,

    - T

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    I'll tell you that, IMO, the deck is stacked against you due to age. Some departments have an age requirement.

    That said, it's been done before and it will happen again. So many other factors besides just your training/certs play into getting hired. That stuff is almost a non issue with certain departments.

    How is your background? Criminal and traffic. Credit. Employment record.

    At 41, you should be very fit if you're trying to get hired. Hit the gym if you aren't already.

    Nose to the grindstone and make it happen. If you want it bad enough you'll get it.

  3. #3
    tcd
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    A little additional info:

    No criminal record or traffic violations in the last 5-8 years. My credit's decent and is somewhere in the low to mid-700's I think. My employment history is stable with no firings and I've been at my current employer for 5 years and the previous one for 7.

    As for fitness, I'm in pretty good shape. Weighing in at about 6'/165#. I run about 3 miles every day with a 6-7 mile run on weekends. I'm training for a half-marathon so those numbers are climbing upward. I will need to work on strength training to bulk up some.

    I'm determined but do realize that the deck is well stacked against me getting a career position. And being in Texas it's made worse by the fact that most med to large cities have adopted an age cutoff of 35yrs. Nevertheless, there are still lots of small departments that don't have an age limit. And if all else fails, I can still volunteer!

    - T

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    Quote Originally Posted by tcd View Post
    A little additional info:

    No criminal record or traffic violations in the last 5-8 years. My credit's decent and is somewhere in the low to mid-700's I think. My employment history is stable with no firings and I've been at my current employer for 5 years and the previous one for 7.

    As for fitness, I'm in pretty good shape. Weighing in at about 6'/165#. I run about 3 miles every day with a 6-7 mile run on weekends. I'm training for a half-marathon so those numbers are climbing upward. I will need to work on strength training to bulk up some.

    I'm determined but do realize that the deck is well stacked against me getting a career position. And being in Texas it's made worse by the fact that most med to large cities have adopted an age cutoff of 35yrs. Nevertheless, there are still lots of small departments that don't have an age limit. And if all else fails, I can still volunteer!

    - T
    Good deal.
    Sounds like you have a solid profile. That last post was a bit negative on my part. I have been told that departments like certain qualities of more experienced individuals. For ex: life experience, responsibility, can't afford to fail....
    There are definitely things going for you.
    Give it a shot.
    Good luck.

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    Most volunteer departments would love to have you. You are motivated and sound like you are in it for the right reasons. Also, you bring the maturity of having worked and managed. Yes, you are way behind the eight ball as far as a career. But, stranger things have happened. Don't forget that there is always hospital based paramedicine in the emergency rooms. Take the training with the local FD, you will get much more out of the hands on than any accelerated online class could ever offer. Just remember, you are signing up to help others. Keep a good attitude and you will do just fine.
    Jason Brooks
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    Is it a guess you are in Texas???


    If not what state ????

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    I was hired with two 40 year olds.

    Another co-worker hired earlier in the year was 39.

    We have a guy in his 50's now, who was hired when he was 45 or so.

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    When I went through standards one of the guys in my class was 49 years old, he was fit but age did factor into his performance. He had to stop doing PT with the class because of getting hurt twice. He still passed, received his cert and was actually the first one to get hired out of my class.

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    The only thing I would add is, START TESTING NOW! Do not wait for certs, get them while you test, but test. In itself, testing is a certification all it's own. Good luck from another mature tester.

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    That's a big thing. Start testing now where you can. Many departments will put you through the required certs.

    Still not too many departments out there have the maximum age requirement. Just depends on where you are and where you're looking to go.

    To many departments, age translates into "life experience". Generally speaking that they are more settled in life (family, home) and able to buckle down and concentrate on getting the job (academy, probation, etc) done because they tend to be of the mindset that they need to get it done.

    Good luck!

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    Wink

    Bam knows what he's talking about...he was 60 years old when he got hired.

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    It’s not uncommon to see candidates in their late thirties or early forties hired, especially paramedics. I encourage candidates to focus on the personal life experience when answering questions in the oral board. No one else can tell your stories where your have been. Over age thirty candidates have life experiences younger candidates can’t match.

    The real secret in getting hired is to learn how to take a firefighter interview that is like no other. Our oldest candidate was age 47. He beat his son out testing for the same department.

    Your best day is to start testing now, become a medic ASAP and learn how to interview.
    Last edited by CaptBob; 11-12-2011 at 06:40 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by powerhourcoug View Post
    Bam knows what he's talking about...he was 60 years old when he got hired.
    ROFL
    Thing is, now I can't get back up

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    If you're looking at volunteering I certainly wouldn't consider going to any of the paid training places. But, realistically you need to make a decision up front about whether you're going to try to go career or volunteer. If you're going to go volunteer then you're really going to be restricted by where you live and what department or departments are options for you to join. I'd probably go and visit with them first and see what they recommend.

    I became a volunteer at 40 and I'm sure that given your fitness level any vol. department would be very interested in having you on board.

    Can't comment on the career route.

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    Default 41 and looking to become a firefighter . . .

    Having worked for both career and volunteer departments, I can tell you that 41 is not too old. It may be considered too old for some DOD jobs. I would recommend that, if you're looking to make a career of it, you go to a bigger city department where you can test, interview and get hired with no certs. They will send you through their own academy or to a centralized academy and get you the required certs. From there you can head in just about any direction. There are several departments out there that will do this. The volunteer route is also good, as they will readily take you in and also get you the required certs. Good luck, stay in shape, and keep your head up!

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    tcd
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    Hi All,

    Thanks for the encouraging replies and advice!

    I'll start studying right away on the testing process. Are there any good books out there you all would recommend?

    There are a few reasons I've been focusing on going volunteer at the outset.

    First, it seems that almost all of the career departments in any mid to large municipality in Texas have implemented age cutoffs at 34-36 years of age. The only exception I've found so far seems to be El Paso, but a 10hr commute is impossible.

    Secondly, the remaining career options are the tiny towns and community departments which are almost all combo or volunteer, and many of the hiring posts I've seen for these seem to require certifications upfront. I figured that if I could get on as a volunteer at a combo department that might get my foot in the door when their hiring period comes around, or at least make me more marketable for other departments in the area.

    Another reason is that it sounds like the career process from start to hire might take a year or two. I'd like to spend that time training and gaining as much experience as possible.

    In the meantime I'll start scouring the local departments for tests and reading up on the process.

    Thanks again everyone!

    - T

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    TCD you may want to look at the opening annoucments closer

    check this weekly:::

    http://www.tcfp.texas.gov/job_postings/jobs.asp

    yes most departments want tx ff cert and at least EMT B and more want paramedic

    I think your plan B is it, once hired the department will train you constantly, the academy gives you a basic understanding

    http://www.trainingdivision.com/courses/

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    TCD - I commend you for wanting to be a firefighter and seeking a job.

    Most departments which have age cut off are because of the upper age limit. Therefore if you were hired say at 30 and made 25 to 30 years on the job, then you would be in the realm of received a good retirement pension.


    Coming on at your age, of 41, and working say 20 or 25 years, the retirement may not be as good as it is for the young fellow which came in at an earlier age.


    Also so department have an upper retirement age, usually 60 or 62.
    There are a lot of folks trying, competing to become a firefighter. Unfortunately there aren't that many jobs available for everyone who has the desire.


    A lot of folks can't hack the EMS portion of the course and either fails out or drops out. Some can't take the rigors of the firefighter training, carrying ladders, hose and the heavy type firefighting gear we wear. Plus some can't get over the phobia of the air mask face piece on their face.


    I have had recruits cry and belly ache because the hose, the ladders, the tools and equipment were heavy.


    I wish you good luck and hope you can get a job.
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

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    Hello & welcome to my world. I'm 38 years old and also on the path to become a career Firefighter. Things are a little different in FL. But this is what I have done so far.

    I went to school for my EMT-B, then put myself through a state Fire Academy to get Fire I & II certs as well as my Proboard cert. I also joined our city volunteer FD to gain some experience.

    I am also working on my A.S. in Fire Science and will be going to Paramedic school in the future. My goal is to get hired with a career dept by the time I am 40. Hopefully, that way I can put in a good 20 to 25 years and retire with some good benefits.

    One thing I have decided is that I am willing to move for a career. The job market for FF's in FL is tough. So I am not going to limit myself by waiting for something here. You may want to think about that, as the majority of Texas depts have age limits. There are several states out there that don't have hiring limits. Good luck to you in your quest.

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    http://www.tcfp.texas.gov/job_postings/jobs.asp

    just looking at the current postings, and not going to the city web site

    9 out of the 14 openings do not show an upper age limit, and 5 do.

    Texas is an at will state, and yes some places do have an upper age limit, but not sure if I would say majority

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    tcd
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    More thanks for the replies!

    I've checked out the listings on the TCFP site and it's true that many don't have upper age limits, but I would categorize these as small towns. As you get to the mid and large size cities you'll definitely start seeing the age cutoffs.

    As for training I'm hoping that the EMT side won't be too difficult. I find that sort subject matter very interesting so I'm guessing that'll help.

    The physicality of the job isn't something I would ever complain about. I like being active and look forward to the challenge. And it sure beats sitting at a desk looking at spreadsheets all day long.

    The SCBA angle doesn't give me pause either. I'm a certified SCUBA diver so I have no issues with wearing a breathing apparatus. And after many dives in the murky depths of Central Texas lakes, I'm also comfortable wearing the setup in low-visibility conditions as well.

    Unfortunately relocating isn't an option due to my wife's employement. I am willing to drive quite a ways though, depending on the opportunity. But again, 4 hours would be tops.

    Regarding testing, are there any good books or websites you have used or would recommend that offer advice and strategy on the subject?

    - T

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    Default just a thought

    If you're interested in the South Florida area (Palm Beach County), we have a biotech cluster forming here in Jupiter. I've noticed some openings at Scripps that involve some sort of Fire/Safety involvement. May be worth checking out. Also, I am a member with the local department - Palm Beach Gardens. Just going through the hiring process now. I'm also up there in age, so don't let that discourage you! It's a really good combo department.

    Good Luck

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    Default It's a grind...

    Well we are in a similar boat however I am just under the age cutoff so I have a few more options. I actually went through fire school first through an online/onsite academy. I was already a volunteer with a fantastic department that is a combo department that had plenty of training oppurtunity's for the volunteers. Once I went to academy I had a basic idea and was ready to roll. After that I took an EMT class through ETMC. I was a certified FF in a year. The hiring process has been a a grind. One of the main road blocks has been the lack of a paramedic cert. I actually finished in the top two of an area department and then got bumped down cause I wasn't dual paramedic cert. I'm still in the running but if I had that cert I would be in like flint. My problem is medic school will take a year and I don't want to let another year go by so as has been said already test as much as you can now and get your certs while your testing. If you go the volunteer route it will be an awesome experience too. Either way get into the service as fast as you can. You will NOT regret it.

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    tcd
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    Quote Originally Posted by TexasFire77 View Post
    Well we are in a similar boat however I am just under the age cutoff so I have a few more options. I actually went through fire school first through an online/onsite academy. I was already a volunteer with a fantastic department that is a combo department that had plenty of training oppurtunity's for the volunteers. Once I went to academy I had a basic idea and was ready to roll. After that I took an EMT class through ETMC. I was a certified FF in a year. The hiring process has been a a grind. One of the main road blocks has been the lack of a paramedic cert. I actually finished in the top two of an area department and then got bumped down cause I wasn't dual paramedic cert. I'm still in the running but if I had that cert I would be in like flint. My problem is medic school will take a year and I don't want to let another year go by so as has been said already test as much as you can now and get your certs while your testing. If you go the volunteer route it will be an awesome experience too. Either way get into the service as fast as you can. You will NOT regret it.
    Thanks for the advice. I'll be turning in my application to a local volunteer department tomorrow. Unfortunately I couldn't register for EMT-B this semester as I still need to complete my Hep-B vaccination series, so it'll be the summer semester for that. In the meantime I'm content to volunteer as much as possible and will enroll in an FF training program as soon as I can. My goal's to have FF certs and EMT-B by next fall, then on to medic school. In the meantime I'll follow advice and start testing whenever possible. If nothing else it'll be good preparation and experience.

    By the way, what online/onsite academy did you go to? I'm turning in my volly application at South Hays Fire & Rescue and they also run a training academy. The bookwork is online and the onsite is done through 10 weekend stays (every other weekend) at one of their firehouses. It looks like a pretty good program.

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    Quote Originally Posted by volltmartin View Post
    If you're interested in the South Florida area (Palm Beach County), we have a biotech cluster forming here in Jupiter. I've noticed some openings at Scripps that involve some sort of Fire/Safety involvement. May be worth checking out. Also, I am a member with the local department - Palm Beach Gardens. Just going through the hiring process now. I'm also up there in age, so don't let that discourage you! It's a really good combo department.

    Good Luck
    Thanks for the encouragement. Unfortunately relocating isn't an option for me at the moment, but a couple years down the road things may change.

    It's interesting how biotech tends to cluster. North Carolina has the same phenomenon, and other areas I'm sure.

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