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  1. #1
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    Default I want be a Volunteer Firefighter but I have some questions.... Can anyone help ?

    Hello guys, first of all I would like to that ever since I was a young kid I have always wanted to be a firefighter.. Specially after the movie backdraft with Kurt Russle lol.. The older the i got the more i forgot about it till eventually i wouldnt have even thought anything of it when i saw a fire engine go by.. On new years at a party i met a firefighter and we talked for a few hours and he sparked the flame in me again and i really i want to do this..

    I should note I am located in Prince William County Virginia I am applying for the O.W.L Volunteer Dept.

    I am 26 years old, 5'11 280lbs.. I know im overweight yes but I do know im very healthy otherwise.. I dont have THAT great of stamina when it comes to running and stuff like that but im already startign to walk 3-4 miles a day now and losing the weight and getting in better shape.. I had a complete physical 6 months ago and I dont have blood pressure issue, or diabetes, or high cholesterol my liver and kidneys are ok.. I also have good Lung Capacity and 99% Oxygen blood level.. My heart rate tho is always a tad high

    I already filed an application, got a response within 2 days and talked to the Assistant Cheif over the Phone.. I went into one of the three local stations and talked to the volunteers and even met the Cheif and did a Ride along (we raided a resturaunt for food in the truck lol) I asked them the questions I had, they showed me around and honestly im extremely excited and they all seem like a really great bunch of people to be around..

    My question i forgot to ask them tho were, Assuming I get voted in to become a Senior Member (senior because of my age) when would the training start ? When do I get the gear ? They told me they measure you and fit your face for the right mask ect.. They give you all new gear.. The main thing im worried about is the Meeting is on the 1st Of Feb.. Obviously im overweight but do you guys think I'll be voted in ?? The guys at the station said pfft you'll get voted in dont worry all they do is interview you, you hand them your background papers and driving record and you go into another room and vote.. The other part im worried about the physical aspect... My county does a complete physical on you like the one i had mentioned i got 6 months ago by my own doctor.. They also do a stress test.. What is this stress test ?? They mentioned something about a treadmill or something ?


    My plans and Goals are to become a member, get the training (its 6 months and I have to get FF1 and FF2) and then I will no longer be considered a Rookie.. While this is all going on i plan to continue to lose weight and get in better shape.. Then maybe a year or so down the road switch or try to switch to Career.. The only reason i dont go for Career now is because of my weight problem.. I know I wont be able to pass the physical fitness test they do to career guys vs volunteer.
    Last edited by Candymancan; 01-21-2013 at 04:47 PM.


  2. #2
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    Only my two cents here, but your last sentence seems like a red flag to me. If you can't pass a PAT, how do you expect to perform on the job? I'm no expert, but the PAT is a joke compared to actually working a scene (I've known people to pass the CPAT with minutes to spare only to puke on a actual fire ground from the physical exertion).
    The only thing I do know about for sure is the stress test as I have to take one annually as part of my department physical. They will put you on a treadmill hooked up to a 12 lead and you start walking at like a 10% grade. After a few minutes, the angle increases as does the speed. This keeps going until you tell them to stop or you hit the levels their looking for. I was told my state wants the METS above 10 but NFPA wants them above 12. You have to last at least six or seven minutes (the last one you are at a fast walk/ slow jog on a steep incline). What they are looking for is what your heart is doing when you are really exerting yourself. Hope that helped!

  3. #3
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    I would say give it a shot. If they accept you great. Learn everything you can, and work on your physical conditioning. Maybe get a trainer to help you do the correct work out for your system.

    With the volunteer aspect, you can see if this a job you really want to do.

  4. #4
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    I apologize for not saying it in my original post, but absolutely give it a shot! Like fire49 stated, you can get a trainer, dietician, etc. to help you loose the weight if you find that this is really what you want to do. Don't ever tell yourself you can't do something.

  5. #5
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    If the guys say dont worry about getting voted in then you should be all set. As for gear if they have to get you brand new stuff it is most likely going to be a few weeks. Training will depend on what is scheduled in your department or area. Some of the training may depend on you, what you have for time and if others are around to help you. In my volunteer department I have seen training start with in a week but each organization is different.

    Good Luck.
    FF II, EMT-P, Hazmat Tech

  6. #6
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    If you get voted in GREAT! If not and you believe it's because of your weight (this could be a significant factor), lose weight and come back again. It really shows you're serious. Good luck to you!
    Paul Lepore
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    Aspiringfirefighters.com
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by skitahoe View Post
    Only my two cents here, but your last sentence seems like a red flag to me. If you can't pass a PAT, how do you expect to perform on the job? I'm no expert, but the PAT is a joke compared to actually working a scene (I've known people to pass the CPAT with minutes to spare only to puke on a actual fire ground from the physical exertion).
    The only thing I do know about for sure is the stress test as I have to take one annually as part of my department physical. They will put you on a treadmill hooked up to a 12 lead and you start walking at like a 10% grade. After a few minutes, the angle increases as does the speed. This keeps going until you tell them to stop or you hit the levels their looking for. I was told my state wants the METS above 10 but NFPA wants them above 12. You have to last at least six or seven minutes (the last one you are at a fast walk/ slow jog on a steep incline). What they are looking for is what your heart is doing when you are really exerting yourself. Hope that helped!


    You see I dont even know what PAT or Cpat is and what is involved.. Im only saying I cant do it because I have no idea what it is.. I mean I may be overweight but I can run the mile in around 9:30-10min which is good enough to Join Marine/Army boot camp..... That may be slow yes but for someone who is 280lbs and hasnt run in years its pretty good so im not in absolutet complete **** shape lol..

    If the PAT is just running up 4 flights of stairs in full gear and a hose and pulling a 180lbs body and crawling through small spaces then im sure i could do that..

    EDIT:

    Well I just looked up the PAT test lol.. Which one is harder ?? Cpat or PAT ??


    I just watched video's of the CPAT as well.... That stuff looks easy so i take back my comment on worrying about the physical tests..... I do landscaping for a living in the summer.. That is way harder then this... 10 minutes of casually walking around in a 70lbs vest and carrying hoses and tools and pulling and pushing up on a simulated roof, then crawling through a small space

    If this is all it takes to get into the fire academy for career maybe i should change my mind about volunteer and apply career..
    Last edited by Candymancan; 01-22-2013 at 11:44 AM.

  8. #8
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    suggest you find somewhere that will let you run the test, either free or pay for it.

    One so you can see what it is like, and also prep yourself in case you take it for real down the line.

    It is not a walk in the park, or give me.

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    Ill go into the stations and ask them about that if they know where i can take a practice test... Because im sorry that looks way too easy.. The work I do every year is more strenious. I think i might skip volunteer now and try career.. I honestly was worried about nothing i guess.. The only problem is my county doesnt seem to be hiring for career right now... I'll have to check outside the county then


    This video... is a joke

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnfR-fi6xk4
    Last edited by Candymancan; 01-22-2013 at 11:21 AM.

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  11. #11
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    If you have to take the CPAT as in this video do not take it lightly. The stair mill is not at a normal pace so it really taxes the legs right off then you have all the other events to get through with your legs like jello. This is not just from me but many others that I have spoken with about it. As fire49 said it is no walk in the park
    FF II, EMT-P, Hazmat Tech

  12. #12
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    Yea I thought about it the stair thing might be the hardest part... But I live in a 3 story townhouse.. I run up 3 flights of stairs probably 10 times daily, run not walk

  13. #13
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    I think i might skip volunteer now and try career.. I honestly was worried about nothing i guess..

    I would take a practice test or two as mentioned above. I don't think the CPAT is all that difficult, but it's also a far cry from PT every morning for 16-20 weeks in an academy. AND they will wash you out after only a couple weeks if you can't keep up physically. I'm glad you're not as worried now, but take it for granted that everything's a piece of cake and you can glide through it in the shape your currently in. I also did landscaping in college and what an FD will put you through during an academy is night and day from mowing, moving mulch bags, etc. Good luck!

  14. #14
    Let's talk fire trucks! BoxAlarm187's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skitahoe View Post
    I think i might skip volunteer now and try career.. I honestly was worried about nothing i guess..
    Why skip out on the enjoyment that you could get from running at a busy department like OWL just to wait for a position in a career department? It takes some people years to get hired...
    Career Fire Captain
    Volunteer Chief Officer


    Never taking for granted that I'm privileged enough to have the greatest job in the world!

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    How do you know OWL is busy do you live here im just wondering ? I went in and talked to two stations here.. One at Lakeridge and One at potomac hospital.. The Lakeridge one the career guys were a little rude.. Telling me not to join, its boring, nothing ever happens.. Maybe 1 call a night or day.. No fires have ever happend in lakeridge in years... They were pretty insitant on me not joining. I also contacted the Assitant Chief Fippinger like over a week ago about a ride along.. He said to e-mail him but i havent gotten any response back... Then at the volunteer side i met a lot of nice people including the Chief and one of the captains... But then i also met a few rude people as well... Is it always like this at OWL ?? Rude people ?

    I'll continue on my plans for volunteer then career when i get in better shape... Im not confined to just this county tho is all im saying.

    Owl is Career btw... They a 6am-6pm Career and 6pm-6am volunteer or so i have been told...
    Last edited by Candymancan; 01-24-2013 at 06:26 PM.

  16. #16
    Let's talk fire trucks! BoxAlarm187's Avatar
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    The career members you talked to are employees of PWC Fire-Rescue, who provide staffing on either a 12-hour or 24-hour basis to all of the stations in the county. This isn't a place to get into career versus volunteer stuff, but suffice to say that the volunteer-career relationships at some stations are better than others.

    One thing I can assure you that all of the OWL stations are doing MUCH more than a call or two a day! No matter who told you that, you were being told a line of BS. They run a pile of auto accidents, fires, medicals, trauma...you name it.

    From the OWL webpage:
    OWL Company meetings occur the first Friday of every month at Station 2. Station 2 is located at 1306 F Street in Woodbridge, VA. Perspective senior members (Fire, EMS and Administrative) are asked to attend the new member meeting at 7:30pm. The general membership meeting starts at 8:00pm. Dinner is served after all company meetings. You can call station 2 at (703) 491-5173 for additional information.

    Give them a call after career hours so you can talk to some of the volunteer members, and also consider going to the above meeting so you can get some additional information.
    Career Fire Captain
    Volunteer Chief Officer


    Never taking for granted that I'm privileged enough to have the greatest job in the world!

  17. #17
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    Candyman-

    A paid department will whip you into shape if you make it. If you do go the volunteer route, please make a serious commitment to losing weight. You will find yourself getting woke up in the middle of the night; going from a resting heart rate and (in the course of 5-8 minutes) be on a fireground with a heartrate of 160+ playing around in heavy gear and high heat. HEART ATTACK CITY. Get in the best shape you can, you'll need it. We all do.

    Best of luck, whatever route you take.

  18. #18
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    Yes, definitely visit during volunteer hours. Consider visiting other volunteer companies in your area. You might find that other companies appeal to you more; whereas, each company has something different to offer. For example: call volume, types of calls, and volunteerism.

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    Thanks for the info guys,

    I am going to that meeting on the 1ST, since i already filed an application awhile ago i got a e-mail from them back saying to come to the meeting. I think that meeting is where I hand them my background check and talk to the board members and then they pull you into another room and do the voting to see you will become a member or not

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