1. #1
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2015

    Default Worth It to Join at 38?

    Hello. First-time poster here....I'm looking for a career change. Have held many jobs in my life, most of them pretty awful. Most recently I have been teaching high school for about six years. I enjoy the public service aspects of the job but adolescents will wear you down like a glacier crushing stone.

    I have always wanted to use my body more. I had a job right after college building trails with the Nat Park Service which I still miss. I was thinking about it the other day and I really feel most alive when I'm moving for about 80% of the day (not sure that describes being a fireman). I'm in top shape (2:40 marathoner) but am on the skinny side (5'9"/130 lbs; don't know if that's a deal breaker).

    I was thinking firefighting would be a good way to remain in public service but also do something more satisfying and with better earning potential (?) I don't need to be rich but a pension is attractive. (I'm in private school right now so no pension and crappy pay.) I really need to work around proactive, initiative-taking people who KNOW what they are doing.

    I'm currently based in NYC where I know I don't qualify due to my age. I'm free to move to any major city really. Would like to stay urban.

    I'm starting at zero so I realize I have at least 2 years of education in front of me before I even qualify. So I'd be 38 assuming I would be hired. Does this sound at all feasible to people?

  2. #2
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    SW Oregon


    My old outfit had an Engineer that did not retire until age 62. Kept himself in excellent shape and was in better condition than most. We also had a guy who did 20 years in the USN, got out, then 3 years later or so joined up and went with the FD until he also was 62. Again it was said he also was in excellent shape. About the only thing I can think of right now is that you might have to increase your body weight a little bit?

    But maybe not either. The fire service needs people like you who have a passion about physical conditioning. I myself was in only OK shape, but since I was basically lazy, I had to work at it. Good luck. HB of CJ (old coot) Also some FDs have no age limits now for hiring on.

  3. #3
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Pacific Northwest


    I would have to agree with HB. I work for a bigger city in Washington State, and we don't have age limits on our hiring. We have had guys start out in their early 40's and have great careers. We have a frontline firefighter who will be retiring at the end of next month just short of his 70th birthday. If you can keep yourself in great shape, then there is always an opportunity somewhere. I would also have to take HB's lead on possibly increasing your body weight a bit. If you go to a bigger city with high rise buildings, and you are carrying your body weight plus in gear and equipment up dozens of stories, you may not have enough left to do the job once you get there. Adding some bulk will definitely help with that. Good luck!

  4. #4
    Forum Member
    CaptOldTimer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 1999


    A lot of cities and counties have age limits because, if you came on at 30 years and did 30 years, then you would get a good retirement. If you came on at 35 and did 25 or 30, you would still get a good retirement. They want to get as much out of you as they can, since they have put a lot into your training and education.

    This is a young persons job. The older you are beginning the harder it is to get into the program. Saying that I think folks coming on about 25, have settled down for the most part, married and maybe have a kid or two. They are looking for a long run career. If you stayed 35 or 40 years you would retired just right to begin drawing social security and also would have to get your Medicare and or Medicaid insurance. This being that most cities and counties drop retirees at age 65 when they become eligible for that.

    Good luck if you decide to become a career member some where.

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