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  1. #1
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    Default Large City Vs Suburb

    Just wonder what the pros and cons of each are until recently I thought that the only departments I would qualify for are the ones in big cities I started a thread and someone on the pointed out that I qualify for some mid sized suburbs as well. As I was looking at there websites the smaller departments were paying a little bit higher. So I was just wondering what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

    Of course when I am able I will fill out applications for everything I can find. Just curious.


  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikecarroll84 View Post
    Just wonder what the pros and cons of each are until recently I thought that the only departments I would qualify for are the ones in big cities I started a thread and someone on the pointed out that I qualify for some mid sized suburbs as well. As I was looking at there websites the smaller departments were paying a little bit higher. So I was just wondering what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

    Of course when I am able I will fill out applications for everything I can find. Just curious.
    Do you want to actually fight fire? If, so get to the big cities.

  3. #3
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    Well as someone who works for a large city Ill throw my $.02 in... with a large city what I have experienced is lower pay, older equipment in worse condition, higher call volume, older stations, more financial instability (for the local gov't) etc. However the city sees much more work, is FAR more aggressive, and has given me significantly more experience than those in the surrounding suburbs. For me personally, the workload and pride that comes with working in a large city outweighs the benefits of working in the burbs. On the other hand, if you have a family and other obligations, the burbs are a much safer bet... You have to look at whats best for your situation
    Last edited by xyz789; 01-04-2012 at 07:00 PM.

  4. #4
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    xyz789 pretty much summed it up. It really just depends on which fire departments you are comparing. I have worked for both Big city (1.5 million population) and suburb (<100,00) In my case the pay wasn't much different and the big city has just as nice/new equipment as the suburbs. Big cities generally have more opportunities.... technical rescue, HazMat, ARFF, more promotional opportunities, etc. Also in the big city there are more diverse areas (depending on the city of course).... areas with high call volume, more fire, more experience... and slow areas where a lot of guys go toward the end of their career. In many suburb departments you will be slow your entire career and see very little fire. Big cities also generally staff 4 man on engines and ladders, whereas many suburbs staff three.

    Personally, I agree that the pro's of a big city outweigh the pro's of the burbs. That being said, there are many great suburb (small) departments with great guys.

    It really just comes down to what area you are looking at, and comparing the different departments in that area. Research the retirement/pension and benefits as well. Where you actually want to live should be taken into consideration too unless you don't mind commuting. Good Luck!

  5. #5
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    Default

    I still plan on testing everywhere I can when its time but that is good to know. The suburbs I was looking at are all Dallas Suburbs and are pretty large 200k+ for population it really appeals to me since I do not want to live in a big city I would rather be on the out skirts. But I am willing to commute if necessary not more than 45 minutes though.

  6. #6
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    I can tell you from personal experience since I spent 23 years in a large metropolitan California (spent the last 5 as a Battalion Chief). I recently took a job on a much smaller department as a Division Chief.

    A large department often has much more activity. Since the department cover a larger area, it makes sense that there are more opportunities to work in busy areas. Additionally, larger departments often offer the opportunity to get involved in specialty assignments such as marine or airport firefighting, paramedic, or hazardous materials technician.

    Smaller departments are often very community oriented as everyone is knows everyone. It's not uncommon to have stronger ties to the community. On a smaller department there are often times less promotional opportunities. You may be the best and brightest, but if there aren't any openings you may struggle to get promoted.

    As far as the pay goes, I have seen it go both ways. Some larger cities are in huge financial trouble and have cut public safety while smaller cities are doing fine. I have also seen the reverse to be true.

    Bottom line, decide where you want to work. Knock on the door of the local fire station and ask them about the minimum requirements. Make sure you meet these. Become involved in the fire service as a reserve or volunteer, become physically fit, get your education, consider paramedic school.

    Paul Lepore
    Division Chief
    Aspiringfirefighters.com
    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com

  7. #7
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    Default

    To add to my original question, would you consider a town with a population of 100,000-200,000 to be a small city?

  8. #8
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    That depends on your region of the country. In California that could be considered to be a small to medium. In states with less density, 200K may be considered to be a "big" city.
    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com

  9. #9
    Forum Member JayDudley's Avatar
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    Default Burbs

    I came from the same department that Chief Lepore left to a very small department. Our city had about 500,00 population and 55 square miles. I came to a department with 12,000 population and 165 square miles of response area. The pay is less but what you get is a great area to live and work. YOU need to weigh all of the factors and then YOU decide what YOU want to do . Good luck !!
    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley
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  10. #10
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    Thanks for all the good information guys, the reason I started this is because I noticed that the suburbs around Dallas pay allot more than all the big cities in Texas.

  11. #11
    Forum Member PNW-206's Avatar
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    Default

    Look at the big picture. Salary is just a sliver of the things you should consider when making this decision. Here are a few things I would think about....

    Salary-what are the steps and how often
    Incentive Pay-Medic, Driver, Longevity...
    Shift schedule (average work week hours, type, Kelly vs. Debit)
    # of Vacation days, sick leave
    Medical/Dental/Vision- Plans offered, Cost to you (family?)
    Call volume
    Apparatus and advancement opportunites in 'burbs vs. city
    Response model and personnel on rigs (3 vs. 4)


    Find the local union contract of dept. you're considering and read through it.

  12. #12
    Forum Member JayDudley's Avatar
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    Default Contracts

    I found a great site@ www.lris.com/contracts/ and there's a whole list by States of Union Contracts. Click on pin for each State and a list will pop up.


    Good Hunting.....
    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley
    Retired Fire
    Background Investigator
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    Lifetime Member CSFA
    IAFF Alumni Member

  13. #13
    Forum Member PNW-206's Avatar
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    Default

    Great Link!!

    Thank you

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNW-206 View Post
    Look at the big picture. Salary is just a sliver of the things you should consider when making this decision. Here are a few things I would think about....

    Salary-what are the steps and how often
    Incentive Pay-Medic, Driver, Longevity...
    Shift schedule (average work week hours, type, Kelly vs. Debit)
    # of Vacation days, sick leave
    Medical/Dental/Vision- Plans offered, Cost to you (family?)
    Call volume
    Apparatus and advancement opportunites in 'burbs vs. city
    Response model and personnel on rigs (3 vs. 4)


    Find the local union contract of dept. you're considering and read through it.
    I am able to find most of this information on the respective fire departments website with a few exceptions, there are a couple department websites that have hardly any info on them.

    What do you mean by shift schedule Kelly vs debit? I know a Kelly shift is where once every other month you get a 4day? what is debit?

  15. #15
    KTF
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    Default

    I've always preferred the big city because I love trucks and the opportunity to specialize in tech rescue. Along with a large call volume.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by KTF View Post
    I've always preferred the big city because I love trucks and the opportunity to specialize in tech rescue. Along with a large call volume.
    I would love to be in tech rescue I have tons of experience with ropes since I am a mountaineer in the Army

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