Hello, my name is Michael. It will give me peace of mind if I have an answer and I thank you ahead of time, for giving me the time.
I guess I'm asking if it matters at all to BI's whether or not you had a past history with drug use and are a reformed person, or if the simple fact alone that you took illegal drugs is irreconcilable with becoming a firefighter.
First I would like to point out that I was a very straight edged christian kid all throughout high school, I only started to really mess up my freshman year of college. I am 19 and am a second year in college now. During my 18th year of life I experimented with various recreational drugs. I took shrooms, acid, ecstasy, cocaine, and smoked a lot of pot. Extremely clean record, no accidents or any kind of crime, not even a speeding ticket. Not to mention, only a very small group of friends even know I did any of these drugs, I always kept a clean profile. The week before I turned 19 I had a very bad experience with ecstasy and vowed to never go back to that way of life, in all of its aspects. Now I'm wondering if hypothetically I completely pursue a career in this, would any length of time, make this past passable as an applicant? Does nothing make you appear "good" in the eyes of the department ever again after that? Hypothetically, I solely pursued a career in firefighting seriously for the next several years of my life. Picture me at say 23, 24, or 25 years of age now, applying, would this past be unacceptable? Even with a degree, or other possible things I could do to make myself appear better as an applicant?
Its just very unfortunate for me because all these past years I've been struggling to decide what I want to do with my life and what I would be damn good at doing. I really feel like firefighting would've been a perfect fit for me, just a shame I discovered it so late in life. Hell, I'd be a third generation firefighter in this country. I could go ask my dad who has over 30 years experience, but then I'd also have to explain to him the kind of stuff I've been into the last year of my life.
Also, what college degrees better suit becoming a firefighter... as in
Would business administration eventually look better for someone aiming at battalion chief?
Would biology or other sciences help? English majors? Communication?
The only thing you need to worry about is getting your life together now. A year of "experimentation" isn't anyone's business but your own. You wouldn't be the first firefighter to get high before getting a job. My advice is; forget about it , and follow your dream of being a third generation firefighter. Don't ruin your life dwelling on a few bad decisions, and if you need to talk to someone about it find your priest or rabbi or whatever your into. Bottom line is, if you can't get over the fact you got high a couple times find a treatment center and some self esteem classes.
A year of "experimentation" isn't anyone's business but your own. Total BS!
What if you test with a department that has a polygraph somewhere in the process. At that point, it's yours and the polygraph administrators business. I'm sure I don't have to say more given everything you've "experimented" with.
And the problem isn't so much the "I've tried this and that once", it's the fact that you admit to smoking a lot of pot. Although, out west admitting to trying cocaine will be the end of your chances in a lot of departments. Admitting that you were a pot head goes to a trend of making bad choices in the eyes of the hiring department.
If you really want to know what you're chances are, you need to ask your dad who you say has been on for 30 years. It won't be a comfortable conversation for either of you, but he should be able to tell you where you stand as far as chances go for your area.
I'm not trying to be a d_*k Michael, but the post above is leading you down that "pie in the sky" path that won't do you any good. You need to be honest with yourself (and it wouldn't hurt to look at a couple departments in your area to see what the automatic disqualifying infractions are). The truth is, you may be a great guy (totally reformed even). BUT, when you apply with 4,000 other men and women, you can be sure that a large number of them have no drug use, criminal activity, etc. that would make a department pick them over you in a heart beat.
I've done every single one of the above mentioned drugs when i was 18 too..minus to see what it was all about. Most departments have a certain time period of the last time you used. Obviously if you get high the day before the polygraph you're not going to get hired. But the main thing they are looking for is honesty. Just explain to them the situation and I'm sure you will be fine. Don't let it eat you up, after all you can't change the past. Just look ahead at the future I feel as though you are blowing this way out of proportion. Also not every department has a polygraph examination, so you if you apply to one that doesn't then nobody needs to ever know about it. Good luck
Welcome to the forum. You will find a wide range of opinions here. My advice is toread them with an open mind realizing that some of the opinions are being expressed by people who have varied backgrounds. Also, fire departments are all different and all have different hiring standards. That's why opinions vary, especially among the firefighters on the forum.
I can tell you that the background packet you will fill out asks very specifically about drug use. It ask what drug, when and how often you did them and who you were with. You can certainly lie about your past, but keep in mind, this is what they do for a living and a background investigator is pretty used to people lying to him.
Some of the drugs you mentioned are automatic disqualifies as they cycle through your body many times before they finally pass through. That's why they are automatic disqualifiers. Also, if your "bad experience" resulted in medical treatment, there will be a record of it.
Good luck with your decision
Sounds like you might want to finish with some type of college degree and pursue a job
If you want something fire related maybe become a fire protection engineer
Your drug use is to heavy for most depts even with years behind you