I am looking for information on getting into the reserves as a firefighter. I am currently a career firefighter/emt in New York State with ProBoard certs in FFI/FFII and HMFRO (as well as many other NYS certs). Two of the main questions I have are is it possible to be exempt from any/all of the tech school with the certifications I have now and what are the requirements of my civilian department for holding my position for me? In other words, does my current civilian department have to keep my position open for me when I leave for basic/tech school and other training? I would like to join the reserves to serve my country and experience what the military has to offer, but I also want to make sure my current FD will not/can not terminate me or fill my position with someone else, leaving me without a job on the civilian side when I return. Also, any other information or stories of anyone who has done what I am looking to do would be greatly appreciated. I am leaning towards National guard or Army but I am open to suggestions. Thanks in advance!
1. All military firefighters, active/reserve/national guard, attend the USAF firefighting school at Goodfellow AFB in TX. The way the course is divided, they MAY allow you to test out of the FF 1&2 if you have IFSAC/NPQ certs. They don't have to. If they allow you to challenge those tests it will cut your school time by about 50%-you will still have CPR/first aid, hazmat ops, and ARFF.
2. Employers are required by federal law to give you the time off necessary for scheduled military training or deployments. They have to hold your job open and you do not lose seniority. If you are slated to be promoted while away, your promotion will be made upon your return with a seniority date the same as if you had never left. Generally speaking, they are not required to pay you while you are on military duty, maintain your health insurance, or allow you to accrue vacation time, etc. Pension credit varies by state and department. Much of this depends on state laws and your contract if you are union.
Now, just because they have to do those things does not mean they will be happy about it. Generally speaking, the smaller the dept the bigger the problems you will have. Make sure you read up on your rights under the USERRA law.
USAF Reserve or Guard is best way to go for firefighting. USAF has the money and organization to pay for all the training and certs you can stand. The Army/Army Guard treats their firefighters like garbage-they always get the crappy end of the stick, and they are few and far between. If you are in the NY/NJ area, you may also consider the Marine Corps Reserve, there is an ARFF platoon at Fort Dix. That said, don't go that route unless you seriously want to be a Marine more than you want to be a firefighter.
Gunnyv, thanks for the information. I do have NPQ certs (FFI/II, Haz mat ops) and I have spoken with a few people and some say I could be exempt from a majority of the academy via the civilian acquired sills program. The one thing everyone has said is get everything in writing when talking to recruiters.
Absolutely, get everything in writing. However, many people will tell you the recruiter can guarantee you things he can't. Rules change, and in the current economy, they are having no trouble making mission.
As an example: For USMC active duty, they cannot guarantee you ARFF MOS 7051. They can guarantee you "Airfield Emergency Services Marine", which is the occupational field that includes not only 7051 ARFF, but also 7011 Expeditionary Airfield Technician (install/maintain runways and lighting)and 7041 Airfield Operations Clerk (airfield secretary). Which of those three you get is based on test scores, MOS prerequisites, and needs of the USMC. Even if you get selected for the job, if you rock out of school they can send you wherever they want.
But USMC Reserve recruiting is one for one with billets available. If they need a 7051 at Fort Dix, they can guarantee you that slot, as long as you meet the prerequisites for the MOS.
Check with each branch and determine what they have to offer. But don't play the multiple recruiter game within the same service-they will find out and ignore you.
@ gunnyv, Not trying to hijack this post but If you are a reserve FF can you still apply for a DoD position? Or do you have to wait until your contract is up?
Sorry, I am not very familiar with the DOD civilian requirements as they pertain to Reserve/NG. I have known DOD firefighters who were concurrently ANG members, but do not know their specific circumstances.
Originally Posted by Jmason66
Short answer.. it all depends on if the position you are being selected for. If they are a "Key Personnel" position, you may be forced to give up your guard/reserve service if you are selected and want the job. If you cannot get out of your enlistment, you may be forced to give up your selection.
I was in this same situation, so let me tell ya a bit about my experiences. I was a Air National Guardsman with 4 years in and 8 more years active duty Navy. I was selected for a civilian firefighter position and was allowed to resign my Guard duties with the full support of my Chain of Command due to the position being a "Key Personnel Position" and already done 8 years Active duty service in the Navy. It would be a completely different story if I didn't have any prior service and I would not have been able to resign my contract, nor would I have been allowed to accept the position. Remember that the offer is only conditional until 3 years (Vested) after you have signed the paperwork the day you start. Up until then, you can be let go for any reason they come up with.