Hello! I know that fire departments cannot discriminate against prospective candidates based on their age, but is it realistic to think that a person in their early twenties can get hired onto a department? Also, are departments likely to shy away from a younger candidate, perhaps even if he/she has similar qualifications then someone in their 30s, for example. Also, how old were you when you were hired? I ask because I have this image in my head of the fire service wanting to hire people who have done it all and seen it all. Thanks for the replies.
When I was assigned to the academy as an instructor, I had recruits that were as young as 19 and as old as 54. I was 25 when I got hired. Life experience is nice, but certainly not a determining factor in getting the job.
I was hired at 27 and at the time I was hired there were two people younger than me that had been working full time for a year or more.
Not at all, many departments would prefer them to be young so that they can teach them from the very beginning. Here in Milwaukee they run the Cadet Program, where if you are between 17-19 years old they will recruit you and pay you (a good salary) while they train you and put you through the academy and certify you. When you turn 21 they put you at the top of their eligibility for hiring, nearly guaranteeing you a great career...
age is only a factor if you let it be. I have seen people at 19 get hired and a guy who was 52. I was 23 when I got hired, a guy in my academy was 49. It just doesn't matter. Young and old each have something to offer. You should figure out how to best showcase what you are bringing to the job.
I was 20
Depends sometimes on maturity level, and sometimes talking to a person you can sense that.
Yes it is nice to hire someone with some experience, but I have always hated that how do you get experience if someone will not give you a shot
Depends on the hiring and training procedures. Some depts are going to send you through an academy, no matter a persons experience
Any volunteer depts around you can volunteer at???
I am really interested in applying for a fire fighting job and I know that the Dept in my community will be hiring in 2014. I will be 51 then. I was a volunteer fireman in another part of the country but that ended in 1987.
I plan to get my EMT cert. this year and am in good shape. I also have a ton of experience with tools and the building trades.
Is it ridiculous to think I have a chance at this?? Anyone who was an older probie have any advice?
Unfortunately, no fire49. Making matters worse the explorer programs are very difficult to get into to...seems like everyone and their mother wants to be a firefighter nowadays.
Originally Posted by fire49
The following is an excerpt from The Aspiring Firefighters Two Year Plan
Everyone has an opinion of age when it comes to hiring new firefighters.
Some people feel that a younger candidate has a better chance of getting
hired because, after all, the fire departments are looking to hire a candidate
for the next 30 years.
If a fire department hires a 21 or 22-year-old, the department can train the
recruit before he or she has a chance to develop “bad” habits. Furthermore,
since the agency wants to get the most money for its training dollars, hiring a
firefighter at a young age ensures that it will get at least 30 years of service
out of him or her.
Younger candidates generally have fewer personal and financial obligations
and are more likely to have the free time to pursue relevant education and
training prior to being hired. This is highly prized by many departments, as
they do not have to pay for it.
Younger firefighters are generally in better physical condition. They will do
well in high impact areas of the community where the job is very physically
demanding. In addition, they will usually work out in the station, which can be
contagious to the other firefighters. Ultimately they may be the cause of the
entire shift working out together.
Younger firefighters are often very concerned about eating properly and
are more educated about nutrition. Quite commonly, older firefighters pay
little attention to healthy eating in the fire station. A younger firefighter may
educate the crew about eating turkey burgers instead of ground beef, or on
the importance of taking vitamins.
Additionally, hiring younger firefighters minimizes the chances of hiring an
employee with a pre-existing injury. It is true that a pre-employment medical
exam will identify many of these injuries; however, with the implementation of
the Americans With Disabilities Act, agencies are not failing nearly as many
candidates as in years past. Since many candidates have successfully litigated
and won a job, medical disqualifications have become less frequent.
The converse to these potential benefits is the fact that a younger candidate
has spent the majority of his or her life at home with minimal responsibilities.
Predictably, this will not be well received in a fire station. This is especially
true since it is expected that the rookie is the one who makes sure all of the
little things are done around the station. These are the same things that mom
did at home for him or her.
Another factor when dealing with “younger” candidates is the fact that they
are going to be living and working with mature (relatively speaking) adults.
It can be difficult for a younger person to fit in with a group of older adults,
Fitting in is difficult to begin with, especially when you consider that a
respected member of the crew may have been moved to another station
to make room for the new firefighter. The displaced crewmember probably
contributed to the chemistry and cohesiveness of the crew and now an
“outsider” has been assigned.
Maturity is an important quality for a young firefighter. Since he or she has
usually led a sheltered life while in college or living at mom and dad’s, it is
likely that the rookie simply does not have extensive life experience. Imagine
what you were like five years ago. How about 10 years ago? How much have
your values and work ethic changed? I guarantee you are a different person.
You have matured by virtue of your life experiences.
An older applicant, on the other hand, will usually fit in much better than
a younger one. He or she has spent years in the work force learning what it
takes to get along and has learned acceptable social behavior through “life
Many departments prefer “older” candidates to younger ones. Since
these departments are looking to hire firefighters with life experience, older
candidates fit the bill. An older candidate will do whatever it takes to earn (and
keep) the job. A candidate with more work experience may have a greater
appreciation of his or her new job on the fire department.
Many older candidates have worked in a variety of difficult jobs. These
range from roofing, carpentry, plastering or working behind a desk in corporate
America. All of these jobs may include long hours, inadequate pay, little or no
medical benefits, minimal flexibility, poor job security and, oftentimes, minimal
job satisfaction. A career in the fire service offers good pay and benefits, job security
and retirement as well as job satisfaction. Hiring a more mature firefighter gives you
a rookie who feels like he or she got a new lease on his or her employment
Older firefighters usually bring a lot to the job. If they have spent their
lives working in the trades, they bring knowledge of plumbing, electrical and
carpentry, as well as the skills of using various hand and power tools.
Most importantly, older firefighters generally fit in with the crew more easily
than younger firefighters. Their life experience gives them a strong platform
on which to base their career.
A candidate who is considering leaving an established job has a lot to lose.
Add a mortgage payment, a spouse and a couple of children to the equation
and this candidate has a lot on the line. The candidate is taking a pay cut,
losing benefits and most importantly, losing job security. It is not likely that an
employer will give an employee back his or her job after leaving it. People who
have a lot at stake make terrific employees. It doesn’t matter how hard things
get, he or she is going to have the drive to succeed. There is just too much to lose.
As you can see, there are benefits to hiring both younger and older
candidates in the fire service. My personal belief is that most fire departments
prefer to hire rookie firefighters who are in their late twenties to early thirties.
Being married and owning a home strengthens their profile. Having a couple
of children completes the equation.
This is not to say that candidates in their early 20’s or early 40’s will
not be considered; they will simply have to demonstrate that they are the
exception to the rule. It’s up to the candidates to demonstrate that their
personality traits, maturity and experience make them the best choice for
the job. A fire department will consider much more than age when making
a hiring decision.
I started the academy at 28. Make sure you check with the department your interested in, ask what qualifications they require or would prefer a candiate to have. In my area most departments have an age limit on hiring. My department will not hire anyone that is 38 or older, even if you are in final processing or trying to transfer from another dept. If your turn 38 before your first day in the academy, your DQ'd.