Is it too late for me?
Hey all, short time reader, first time poster. A little information first:
I'm 30 (31 in November), born and raised right here in Rhode Island. I have a wife and a nine month old son.
Firefighting is in my blood. My father and a few of my uncles were with the Pawtuxet Volunteers (I more or less grew up in that firehouse). I have two other uncles with (one retired from) the Providence FD. I am a member of the Pawtuxet Fire King Vets, and an active Life Member of the New England States Veteran Fireman's League.
When I was younger, it was my life's dream to someday become a member of the Pawtuxet Volunteer Fire Company. In 1994, when Mayor Michael Traficante shut down the Cranston Volunteers, this dream was lost.
As I got older, I naturally had different priorities as time went on; but I tried to stay as close to firefighting as I could, and never let that dream of actually becoming a firefighter totally disappear. Now, as I enter my 30s I realize that I'm still young, but I'm also not getting any younger. I know they say that you should live life with no regrets, but if I died tomorrow there would be only one: Not applying to a department a long time ago. I just don't want to to wake up one morning and realize that I missed my chance at following the most important dream I've ever had.
Ideally, I would love to be a full-time paid firefighter with Providence or Warwick, but it's no secret that these departments are not easy to get into. Plus, I work full time at a job that I love, with benefits and the whole nine. This is the only thing I would ever leave my job for, but I don't think there's any way I can go to probie school and support my family at the same time.
Rhode Island also has quite a few volunteer departments, and I've considered this as an option. My wife and I are currently looking for a house to buy, and I'm keeping my search locations in close proximity to those communities with volunteers.
Anyway, I'd love to hear some of your thoughts and opinions on my situation. What would you do? Am I too old to change careers to be a firefighter?
You are never to old, unless there is an age limit
Get your finances in place, if you want to go paid, short term hurt while you are in training foe long term goal
Or if you decide not to go paid volunteer and you hit the same goal, just not getting paid to do it
How is it that you're a member of 2 fire veterans associations and have never been a firefighter?
If you want to be a firefighter quit asking our permission and get the hell out there. I was 34 when i started and it was one of the best decision of my life.
I would strongly caution you about answering or injecting the fact that your dad and uncles were firefighters or your life membership in the 2 organizations into any question or conversation other than perhaps "What made you want to be a firefighter." In the real world of being a firefighter they're going to give you about 0 points and trying to throw them around to gain points or show some kind of dedication to a service you seem to have not ever been a part of will likely **** off some of the guys who have made a life time of it.
Get in there, do the work, learn what they have to teach and show them through your actions at the station and on the fire ground that you're dedicated to firefighting and they'll grow to respect you. Try to throw around what your family members have done or show off a membership card and you'll be laughed or ridiculed out of the station.
I've known four people in my career that didn't start until they were 40. They've all done great with their careers. The only potential setback is how long you may have to work to get a decent retirement. The one of those four who has retired already had to work until he was 65. Those last few years were pretty tough on him.
As fire49 said, unless there's an age limit on getting hired, then you still have a shot. Just work hard, and prove you're worth it.
And if you go the volunteer route, that's still possible as well. My dad didn't start volunteering until he was 47. He's been doing it for about 5 years now, and loves every minute of it.
So if this is truly what you want, go for it 100%!
Thank you guys for the positive input so far... I'm honestly not sure what I was worried about. I'm not old, and a good friend of mine actually just told me, "Don't worry about all the young twenty-somethings that try out for the job.. Most of them just find out that they're not the hot-shots they think they are. I can't tell you how many guys I've seen in their 40s show up and run circles around them kids."
I do want it bad enough...
Just for the record, I only mentioned those things here to emphasize the point I was making. The only thing that earns me points and respect in the real world is the respect I give, and the pride and dedication I put into everything I do. Not what my friends or family have done, or what I happen to do with my free time. Trust me, I'm well aware of the seriousness of the job, and what would and would not be expected of me by both the department and my potential fellow firefighters. If I'm ever passed over for a job, it will be because the department felt that there were others better than me; not because I thought I was better than anyone else.
Originally Posted by EGregory
And I apologize, I should have been clearer about what these organizations are. The NESVFL was formed in 1890 as the governing body for a group of individual organizations whose purpose is to compete in the oldest organized sport in the country. Every summer, there's a schedule of musters held all over New England and some of New York. These musters consist of several 19th century handtubs competing to shoot a stream of water the furthest distance. The Fire King Vets is a sister organization to the former Pawtuxet Volunteer Fire Co., and we're currently in the process of completely rebuilding an 1855 Class-A Smith rig, called the "Fire King" and hope to return her to competition within the next 5 years.
Actually, take a look.. it might interest you:
Started volunteering at the age of 33. Just had a choice between two career positions at the age of 36.
NO, you are not too old.