Thread: Seeking Advice

  1. #1
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    Aug 2012

    Default Seeking Advice

    Hello everyone,

    I registered to this website mainly to gather helpful information that would help me pursue a career in fire fighting. If you have the time to read over the plan I have come up with and give me any feedback possible Iíd appreciate it. Here we goÖ

    A little about myself... My name is Sam, Iím 21 years old and will be turning 22 this November. I enlisted into the Army straight out of High School as Human Resources and have been stationed in Fort Bragg, NC ever sense. I will say that I do not enjoy this job one bit, but I canít say I regret it either. Iíve had some of the best mentors and leaders that someone could ask for. They have taught me values that I will carry throughout the rest of my life. But Iím not cut out for an office job. When I realized that I also realized that Fire Fighting is the job of my dreams. I want to be able to serve my community, granted that you can do that regardless of any job, thatís why they have community service. But I want to be there for people in need, be a part of a community, and be a part of something that I can finally be proud of. Which brings me to my plan that Iím hoping to get some opinions / guidance. Be returning from my 2nd tour in Afghanistan in the next couple of weeks, and start out processing out of the Army. ..

    I plan on spending some time back home (Idaho) for a few months just to take some time off and do some research, talk to the local FDís, etc. I plan on moving to Greeley, CO towards the end of February 2013 to attend AIMS Community College for their program in Fire Science. Iíve planned out that it will take me 2 years to get my Associates Degree, another semester for my EMT-Basic, and one more semester for Fire Academy. Obviously going to school during the school year, and volunteering at FDís during the summer to try and learn anything I can. One question I do have, am I wasting my time paying to go to a Fire Academy? To my understanding even after you get hired to a FD you have to go through their Fire Academy so any clarification on that would be nice. But to sum it up, 3 winters of schooling 3 summers of volunteer experience and after that just start testing all around Colorado to fulfull my dream. Thatís my rough draft plan. A few things of note, I know that it probably would be better to get my paramedics license due to 90% of calls are medical related. On the fence on doing thatÖI know you really donít need anything but a GED or HS Diploma to apply for FF. But having the GI Bill I feel it would be unwise to not take advantage of that to learn something related to the FF/Medical field. My dream is to get hired by the Denver Fire Department but I know how competitive fire fighting is and it can take up to 1-10 years to get hired as a full time Fire Fighter. Anyways, any feedback is much appreciated, I apologize if I rambled a bit. Just looking for some guidanceÖjust have a few more questions that Iím going to post below to see if anyone can answer them.

    One thing I forgotÖ

    Iíve read that you should start testing as soon as possible just to learn how the hiring process for FF is, what material you should know etc. For example, the Denver Fire Department are holding tests January Ė February, but one of the requirements is to be a citizen of Colorado. Are there exceptions if you are traveling around state to state testing for FDís?

    Thank you for taking the time to read this if you did. Rambled a little bit, sorry about that haha.

  2. #2
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    Mar 2012


    At this point.. if you are just looking to get on a volunteer or part-time department quick if I were you I'd opt to just take the actual state certification courses for your Firefighter and EMT/Medic. You should (not really to sure about how Idaho or Colorado work) be able to be at the minimum a "Basic" Firefighter/EMT within 6 months or so (Some programs will combine a states "Basic" and "Professional" courses all-in-one, may be something to look into as well). It really comes down to exactly what you want to do and how you want to do it.

    I'm not advising against getting your degree, It can certainly help you land a job -- But in most cases it isn't a requirement or consideration for a civil service Firefighter job.

    As for going through fire college/school and then having to go back through when you get hired is just part of the job. At the very least you will know, for the most part, everything that will be/should be required and asked of you while in your academy.

    Individual department's civil service requirements.. you'll just have to check with the said departments. Some places require you to be a FF/MEDIC prior to applying, some places just require a HSD/GED. Testing out of state shouldn't be an issue unless again, it specifically says you must be a resident of that state/city prior to applying.

    Good luck to you.
    Last edited by WhatNow; 08-22-2012 at 04:43 PM. Reason: To wish the guy good luck.

  3. #3
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    yjbrody's Avatar
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    May 2009


    Hey Sambro, welcome to firehouse. I will try to give you some specifics on Colorado since I've been testing mostly in CO.

    First off, I don't think that paying for an academy is your best use of time/money if you are planning on volunteering. I'm from southern CO so I know more about depts down here, but if you volunteer all of them put you through an academy. Some will even pay or cover part of your costs for your EMT-Basic. However, you mentioned that you only want to volunteer during the summer so that might change things, and that will depend on the department. My dept specifically wouldn't go for putting you through an academy and EMT school to only have you be around for half the year, so if you can work it out to stay with the dept during the whole year I think more opportunities and doors would be opened for you.

    Fire science program sounds fine although it's not the golden ticket like your Paramedic license would be, but I think you know that already. I'm not a huge fan of suggesting that route (P school) for people that truly wouldn't excel or be happy doing that (can't tell by your post where you would sit). I don't know about you, but the last person that I want working on me or my loved one is someone that just got it to get on with a dept or some extra cash. ***Edit: That's a dumb thing to say. I guess they aren't the last person I would pick, but I would much rather have someone who loves that part of the job over someone who just got it because they had to. I think you get where I'm going with this.*** Do it because you want to and would make one hell of a medic. It's a lot of work too. I'm going off topic so that's all I will say about that.

    Specifically about CO, Denver does take out of state applicants. Not sure where you got misinformed (Actually rereading how you phrased it, I think what they are talking about is that you have to be a resident of CO once you are hired. You can't live out of state and still work for them). They are an all basic dept however so a P won't help you at all there. Don't get me wrong, it won't hurt, but it's not the golden ticket like it may be with other depts. They test every 2 years, but you just missed this last process late '11/early '12.

    Most other depts in the state though, I would help tremendously to have your P license.

    Here's a run down of the larger one's that I am familirar with and when they might be testing (not all of them by any means, but these are the larger ones):
    West Metro: Tested late '11 and won't be testing for at least another 2.5 to 3 years
    South Metro: Just tested earlier this year (I think). I think they do every 2 years too, but that's not a hard and fast rule
    North Metro: Don't know off the top of my head, but worth checking out
    Aurora FD: Just tested a couple months ago, but I think they test every 2 years
    Colorado Springs: Lately they have been testing every 1 year usually in the fall, but haven't heard anything for this year for sure.

    Also there is a test called the DR.COG that you can take once a year I think (but they offer it every 6 months) that lots of departments in the Denver area pull from (13 or so I think). It's a great way to hit 2 birds with one stone, or I guess 13 birds with one stone. You take the DRCOG, your results are good for a year I think and then if any of those 13 depts need to hire they start to pull names off the list based off your scores and are progressed through their depts remaining process which will vary by department.

    There are also plenty of other departments that I haven't mentioned, but hopefully this gives you a foothold to work from. There are lots of well qualified applicants out here with plenty of certs, experience and we have TONS of military guys that usually get preference pts which can make for some tough competition, but depts have been steadily hiring here and there and we haven't seen much in the way of layoffs which is a good sign.

    I would suggest starting to google specific towns just outside of denver and see what else you can find. They each have different requirements, testing timelines, physical tests, prereqs, testing phases, etc.

    Hope this helps a bit and helps you figure things out. Stay safe!
    Last edited by yjbrody; 08-22-2012 at 05:16 PM. Reason: Said something dumb
    Nothing is as unimpressive as someone who is unwilling to learn.

  4. #4
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    Nov 2009


    Would look at what is required as far as certs, just to apply.

    Than get those first.

    And than start applying and testing

    You can take college courses once you get hired, and some work on the shift schedule, and a lot are online courses now a days

    Not sure about the Army, but some of your training has college hours attached to it, if yours does get a transcript before you get out

    Do not limit yourself to one dept or you may never get hired

    College may not help, looks good, unless the dept requires college hours to apply

    If you know someone on a colo dept suggest call them for tips, and check colo city web sites for hiring requirements

    Check this web site and possibly buy the program, have not used it but hear great things!!

    Most of all """"""stay out of any trouble""""" stay in shape

    Good luck and thank you for your service

  5. #5
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    FyredUp's Avatar
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    Jul 1999
    Rural Wisconsin, Retired from the burbs of Milwaukee


    No education will hurt you. Some may just pay off sooner in getting a job.

    I would look at getting your FF1 and 2 certs and your paramedic license. Then go back and get your fire science degree. UNLESS there is a time limit on when you can use your GI Bill benefits. I for sure wouldn't let the opportunity go to get a degree. You are young and have plenty of time to get hired.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

  6. #6

  7. #7
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    Aug 2012


    Quote Originally Posted by yjbrody View Post
    However, you mentioned that you only want to volunteer during the summer so that might change things, and that will depend on the department. My dept specifically wouldn't go for putting you through an academy and EMT school to only have you be around for half the year, so if you can work it out to stay with the dept during the whole year I think more opportunities and doors would be opened for you.

    Fire science program sounds fine although it's not the golden ticket like your Paramedic license would be, but I think you know that already. I'm not a huge fan of suggesting that route (P school) for people that truly wouldn't excel or be happy doing that (can't tell by your post where you would sit). I don't know about you, but the last person that I want working on me or my loved one is someone that just got it to get on with a dept or some extra cash.

    Also there is a test called the DR.COG
    As far as volunteering I would absolutely volunteer full time! Like I said, being over here I'm limited to research, I plan on talking to local FF's about volunteer. But if full time volunteering is available then count me in.

    We're both on the same page about Paramedics. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure I would enjoy it but like you said, I wouldn't be passionate about it. Kind of why I picked Fire Science, I know it's not required but I'm pretty intrigued on learning about chemical compounds that start fires, what kind of building layouts are at high risk for fires, etc. Just seems interesting to me and would make me an overall better FF.

    I've read about the DR.COG, something I need to research when I get back stateside.

    And I'm not limited to working at one certain fire station. I've read all the stories taking anywhere from 1 to 10 years to get hired as a career FF. Plan on moving to CO and starting out in that state, if things don't work out, have to pick out another state and try my luck there. Just my initial plan.

    I'll have to do more research, I know there are websites out there that tell when FD's are hold tests. But as far as school goes, I know that if I went through that plan I would come out with my FF 1 and I think FF 2, not sure on the second one. Along with EMT-B and I think it comes with Hazard Safety Cert. Thanks for all the feedback though, means a lot.

    Same goes for all you guys as well, stay safe on the calls you guys get.

  8. #8
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    snowball's Avatar
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    Nov 2000
    Just North of South Central


    Thank you for your service.

    Stay attached to the military somehow, reserves? You have chosen a career path that is being systematically picked apart and targeted for this recession. The dual pension will be an awesome thing to have because there's no telling where the fire pension will be by the time you get on. Also, military discounts for insurances and other things will help you live comfortably.

    Test everywhere. Don't just pick a state and wait around until you've tested at every department. Your age will come in to play sooner than you think and chances are you'll only be on your second state of choice.

    A fire science degree is nice but not required. Concentrate on FF1and FF2, NREMT, and maybe try to get that Paramedic cert, most large departments are swinging that way.

    You've got your work cut out for you, this is a highly competitive arena. You have to make yourself better than everyone else out there.

    Good luck

  9. #9
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    Nov 2009


    sorry missed the link I was trying to get to you:::

  10. #10
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    Oct 2010


    I don't know where to start but I'll try to give you all the usefull info I know. I grew up in the town of Windsor, Co. It is approximatly 15 miles from Aims CC. I am an Aims CC fire science graduate class of 2002. Aims has a very good program. I hope they have added more hands on training to it than when I went through. A fire science degree is good to have but so is any degree really. The people on the other side of the table like to see education when they interview you. Let me tell you why Aims is a good choice. There are many smaller towns all around Greeley that have volunteer fire depts/ combination departments. If I was you I would live in one of those towns and comute to school. You can get good experience by volunteering while you go to college. You might have to make some calls to the Fd's but some of the towns I would look into are Windsor, Berthoud, Johnstown, Miliken, Eaton and Evans.
    Colorado is a great place to be for someone wanting to get a job in the fire service field. Don't get me wrong and hear me out. It is not easy to get a job in Co. I don't even work for a dept in Co. What you will get is a lot of fire departments that are still hiring. So you can get many opertunities to take tests and learn what the testing process is all about. Many of the depts are an easy 1-3 hour drive away from the Greeley area. The problem is on some of the bigger tests there will be around 2000 people taking them. Don't get discuraged by that number. I just want you to know what you are up against at the "bigger" departments. This is meant to motivate you. You have to be better than them, and you can't give up testing. Back to Greeley's location. You are close to many other states that have paid fire depts. Wyoming, Nebraska, and South Dakota are all within driving distance for a test. Many of these dept's see around 100-200 applicants to their tests. Also Denver International Airport is a major hub for many airlines so you can test wherever you want if you have the $$
    So where do you go from here? I would move to a smaller town near Greeley and first thing I would do is enroll in an EMT B program. I think Aims usually offers them. Then I would try and get on with a volunteer FD. Many of the the volunteer depts test just like the paid ones in Co. Going through your EMT already will help you get a volunteer spot. Get "A" degree. If you like firescience awesome, if you like building construction maybe find one in that too. Then I would TEST, TEST, TEST, and more Testing. Once you finish your degree if you are still trying to get a career in the fire service then maybe I would think about P school. P school is not the "golden ticket" that many people think it is. Can it help? yes. Will it gurantee you a job? NO! I have been hired by more than one fire dept and I am not a paramedic. So it is doable with out the "magic P" behind your name.
    Onto the testing process. This is not your average interview to get the job. Man I could write a book on the testing process but many people already have. I highly recomend Captain Bob's: When you go to an interview you better have studdied your butt off about that dept. You have to find out more about that dept than any other candidate. And bring your A game. You controll your future and you have to be open minded about yourself.

    Sorry this is so long. I hope it helps you. Thank you for your service.

  11. #11
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    Oct 2010


    I forgot to add keep your butt out of trouble. We see many people come to this forum and say "I know a guy who has a DUI or a felony can he get a job" The short answer NO. there are many other candidates that do not have a record and guess what? FD's want them more than someone with a record. Good luck to you.

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