Should I switch careers to firefighting
I am thinking of changing careers and would like some feedback. I have a very long list of things against me to make this an uphill battle but I am a very strong willed determined persistent person. I am a 42 year old female with no career experience with anything besides a corporate exec job. I have a college degree in business and currently own and run a few locations of a well known franchise. I am also a mom to 4 kids from elementary age all the way to high school.
A friend that has been a firefighter for many many years recently gave me a tour of his station. That planted a seed in my head about a profession I knew little about. Seeing the inner-workings of the firehouse and talking here and there with him about the profession and the ups and downs of day to day scenarios gave me a strong desire to find out as much as I could about the profession, what it takes to get your foot in the door etc.
I am very aware of how far-fetched this would be for most "normal" 42 year old females, but back full circle to how strong willed and determined I am. If I want something I will do the work it takes to make it happen, IF it's in the realm of possibility, which is where I am at this point. Is this something that is realistically achievable for me? From the info I am seeing, the education and preparation alone is a very lengthy process. I have no problem doing the program at the fire academy and taking whatever EMT classes I need to take degrees I need to earn. Both of these things go beyond piquing my interest to a level that I want to be a part of it. I want to learn everything I can about it. I want to do this for many reasons beyond "I want to save people". Life experiences have changed my entire outlook on life, people, and precious time. I am at a different point where I once was young and invincible, I now want to be part of a team where each person doing their part is how the job gets done. I am a very high energy person and it doesn't take me much, if any time, to be "on". I am most productive when I have to fly by the seat of my pants.
Assuming I am able to pass the fitness exam (working out is not an issue, training to be at the fitness level of the test requirements is not a worry or an issue), how crazy is this plan? What are the chances any department will want to hire me? How can I consciously go into this knowing I am just not physically able to ever match the strength of most of the men on the squad that just naturally have more muscle mass and as a result are stronger, regardless of how long and how hard I train in the gym? How long realistically would it take to get started in a department (volunteer is an option at a few departments around me)?
Is my age a factor? Is my gender a factor? Is my experience (lack of) a factor? I would be appreciative to anyone that can offer candid advice. I do not want advice that is sugar coated or politically correct, I want the honest truth.