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  1. #1
    SmokeEater31
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Unhappy Where do older firefighters go from here?

    I have been a Firefighter/EMT for all of my adult life and I have known no other life. While until this time it has been volunteer (which I enjoy immensly) I always held on to the "dream" of getting paid to do it. Lately though I have been thinking that maybe realisticly I should consider thinking about a new career field while holding on to the volunteer aspect for as long as I can physically do it. The problems I can forsee?

    1). About 3 years ago, I had blood clots in my left leg, and to this day, it bothers me at times. I mean, what fire department would possibly want an older firefighter that has a history like that?

    2). I have failed miserably in quitting the nasty habit of smoking. I know, I know. It is something I don't even do because I enjoy it, or it makes me relax, (you know, all the typical reasonings), I HATE the smell of them, and hate the taste of them. I do it, because my cousin introduced me to it when I was nine. I have tried the patches and cold turkey and NOTHING seems to help. It is not because of lack of desire, I guess it is a lack of willpower.

    3). I am 30 next month, and the younger "stallions" out there are going to most generally going to have the upper hand when it comes to agility test(s).

    4). My right knee is in pain after kneeling for an extended period of time. That is a certain disadvantage for firefighters.

    Like I said, I have been doing this all my adult life. I have no other ideas as to where I would go or what I would do. The fact is, I don't WANT to do anything else, with the exception of Law Enforcement. It is a VERY frustrating and depressing set of facts that are facing me right now.

    Any ideas on rehabilitating my body to make it so that it is a competetive force out there?

    I'll listen to whatever is said. (I am sure that will include all posts yelling at me for the stupid habit of smoking. I'll accept those too. (maybe it will give me the added PUSH to get it out of my life.

    Thanks for your help.

    ------------------
    Your Brother In The Service,
    Rob Herpel
    FF/EMT
    Vice-Pres./Asst. EMS Coordinator
    Fremont Rural Fire Department


  2. #2
    FireRebel
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Hang in there Brother....1st and Foremost, you are 30 y/o...come on now that is far from old, most depts let you test up to the ripe old age of 35...exercise, exercise...get ona tread mill and start running daily..see a hypnotist, get the patch, chew the gum, do it for your family, yourself, quit smoking Brother, a good cardio workout daily and some strength conditioning 2-3 times a week, maybe see your DR. 1ST...Get your knee checked, alot of wonderful advancements in the field of knee scopes...good luck to you and stick with it, I have been trying for 8 years now...

  3. #3
    LtStick
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I agree Hang in there brother. The treadmill is a good idea although I would try walking first. You may even want to try going to the local gym or YMCA they usually have fairly decent equipment. Definitely talk to a doctor and work on quitting smoking or at the very least cut way back. Even go for a walk outside on nice day.
    I turned 30 back in February and I still feel as good or better than when I was 18 or 19. I give the young pups a run for there money quit literally.
    Just because there younger than you doesn't mean there better. Remember with age comes experience and knowledge.
    Best of Luck to you

  4. #4
    Adler
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Cool

    Hang in there Bro. Talk to your Dr. about Zyban or Welbutrin SR. My dad is currently taking Wellbutrin SR for depression, but it has also made him quit smoking. Use the treadmil and get back into shape. The knees and other pains are natural and everyone has them. Good Luck....

    P.S. Please don't tell me that 30 is old....I still believe that 40 is old...

  5. #5
    pfr172
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    You aren't old! We hire up to 35. We even have a Captain that will be 60 next year, that's twice as old as you.

  6. #6
    N2DFire
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    Rob,

    I gotta say it even though it's been said.
    Hang in there !!
    You are not alone in your situation. I am 28 (turning 29 in Sept.) and I have been involved with volunteer EMS & Fire since I was 17. It has always been my dream to become a career FireMedic.

    Right now I am in a situation where I cannot afford to change careers (litteraly), but I still hold on to my dream (and I always will). One day things will change for me and I'll have my "Dream Job".

    Stick with it Brother and one day things will change for you too.

    I wish you the best of luck.

    Take Care - Stay Safe
    Stephen
    FF/Paramedic

    BTW - I may be a little "Round in the Middle" after years behind a desk - but I can still give My Dept's "young bucks" a run for their money.

  7. #7
    SmokeEater31
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    You guys ar the best.
    I feel so incredibly honored to be associated with people from everywhere that are TRUELY my brothers and sisters.

    I thought about ZYBAN, but I had not thought of Wel-Butrin. I know the history behind ZYBAN is it an anti-depressant, and then they noticed that depressed smokers suddenly has less of an urge to smoke. I will DEFINITELY do that.

    Thanks for the encouragement, and feel free to yell at me if I don't quit soon. Sometimes we all need a kick in the butt. In fact I'd prefer a kick in the butt than a pat on the back sometimes.

    You are all dear to me, and thanks for the encouragement.

    Let me ask one other thing. Regarding re-habing, I heard mention of treadmill and walking, what do you think about bike riding? I mean it is something that would be saved for later whenI rehab it enough? Would it put more stress on the knee than needed right now?

    Thanks again.
    I look forward to hearing from you soon. If you need anything I can help with, ask and I will be there bros.



    ------------------
    Your Brother In The Service,
    Rob Herpel
    FF/EMT
    Vice-Pres./Asst. EMS Coordinator
    Fremont Rural Fire Department

  8. #8
    Hoser
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Wink

    Hey Rob! it's not all that bad...my department hired a 48 year old rookie a couple of years ago, and he's doing just fine. The fair Labor Standards act ensures you will be able to take the test, all you have to do is pass it. Work on getting in shape for that agility test, and good luck!


  9. #9
    FireRebel
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    1st thing is get your knee looked at...make sure everything is cool before you start any type of work out regime....bike riding is great, what ever keeps you the most interested...keep chuggin away Bro'....

  10. #10
    Icerader
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Angry

    Unfortunately, I have to disagree with my brothers and sisters. My response is located in "Looking for answers" post.

    Of course, it's only an opinion!
    Capt. Bill

    [This message has been edited by Icerader (edited 04-06-2001).]

  11. #11
    paets
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    It might help to remember that suppression isn't the only route to a fire service career. Training and fire prevention are two areas that come to mind.

  12. #12
    Althea Forhan
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I'd reccomend one of those health club eliptical thingies. They seem to be good for knee injuries aggravated by pressure & impact. My oldest brother quit smoking ten years ago, cold turkey. But he is kinda...how should I say this?...psyco? Try to replace it with something else, like M&Ms or something. Oh,and if you're thirty and think you are old, triathlete Mike Pigg is nearly forty.

    Althea "I don't have a caffine problem" Forhan

  13. #13
    FEOBob
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Don't give up on your dream. I came on the job with a 42 y/o 12 years ago, and he's not had any problems. There have been that old and older come on with the same results.

    As for your smoking and knee, seek professional help (ie. a doctor). If you are serious about getting hired, you can't let these handicaps continue. The hiring process is incredibly competitive. Test anywhere and everywhere you can, even if you don't think anything will come of it. My first paid job was with a tiny department (one man per shift) that hadn't hired in fifteen years. Do not give up! The fire service needs more people who want this job more than any other. Far too many people get hired just because they took a test on a lark.

    Good Luck

  14. #14
    FyredUp
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I got hired at my first full time job as a FF at 31, moved on to a bigger FD at 39. We just hired a guy who is 42.

    If you think you are old at 30.....well, then you are. But only by your standards. If you want the job bad enough you WILL do the things you need to do to give yourself a better chance. Get a physical, check out your ailments, quit smoking, get in shape and as the Nike ads say "Just Do It".

    Good luck,

    FyredUp

  15. #15
    SmokeEater31
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Thanks for the advice and encouragement everyone.

    Capt. Bill
    A couple/few points of clarification.

    1). Re: Volunteer Firefighting fulfilling my need for being a "hero"
    If you ever read any of my posts regarding that detestable word, you would find that I absolutely do not dot his o be a hero. In fact, I pray that I am never considered as such. I do what I do because I love what I do. Does it give me a sense of accomplishment? Absolutely. Do I do it for recognition? Well, if I was foolish enough for that I would be a very disappointed person. I do not in anyway believe that wee as a group are heros. I believe this because it is what we CHOOSE to do, and to think of any of us as heros is wrong because it takes something away from what we do. (In my opinion)

    2). Maybe I should consider a different career.
    Yes, maybe I should and remain a volunteer. That is not a bad thing, so I appreciate the realistic view on the matter.

    3). Re: Wanting something more from my wife.
    Once again, I must totally disagree. I tried to be the type of person that shared my "work" with my wife. It did nothing but cause problems. So, I NEVER mention it anymore, SHE always mentions it and then she wants to fight about things. No, I don't want ANYTHING more from her. Only an understanding of what I am and what I do.

    4). Why would I ask firefighters about complicated problems?
    Simple. These are the ones that UNDERSTAND what I do, and often share the same problems.


    Did I take the post the wrong way? No. Am I offended? No. I ASKED, and I always believe that a peson should not ask the question that they may not want to hear.

    I just wanted to clarify some points that I felt I was being mis-understood on.

    Again, thanks for all the posts everyone.

    ------------------
    Your Brother In The Service,
    Rob Herpel
    FF/EMT
    Vice-Pres./Asst. EMS Coordinator
    Fremont Rural Fire Department

  16. #16
    Icerader
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Brother Rob,

    First let me say, any response generated by your original post was based solely on the way you phrased your problems. One can only respond to the written word since none of us know you.

    When I said you need professional help, I meant it. Both of you. Spousal relationship problems are very complicated and are not the problem of just one of you. You both share in them. If you are looking to fellow firefighter for the answers, who is she looking to for answers...other wives. That is why you both need professional counseling. A BB is no place to solve these emotional issues. It seems to me that your "clarification" response to my reply were only justifications for your first post. They don't float with me.

    Let me say this about volunteer firefighters so you fully understand. I started out as a volunteer many years ago. It was the springboard to my career, so I have no problems, at all, with that kind of community loyalty and service.

    You have a lot of issues to deal with, both psychological and physical, and just because we might "UNDERSTAND what you do", does not make any of us qualified to guide you in your personal life. While we may be "Firefighter", those who know a little about a lot, we neither have the education or experience to solve your complex personal problems. Bottom line here is....it sounded to me like you were feeling sorry for yourself rather than dealing with the issues.

    I will say it one last time....find yourselves (you and your wife) a good counselor and start dealing with your joint issues.

    Capt. Bill

  17. #17
    Brian Dunlap
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Cool

    Smoke Eater31,

    You are only as Old as You Feel....Ever herd that one ? Hell man 30 Isn't all that Old. I Too will be turning 30 This August and still in the back of my mind wish I could become a Paid Firefighter. If I pushed and Strived for it I know I could do it but in My Great State of New Jersey Positions are few and the Pollitics High. I became a dispatcher with a Large South Jersey Trucking Company back in 1998 and to tell you the truth The Pay is better than that of a Firefighter around here. Although A Paid Firefighter will eventually make more than I do at some point in thier Career I enjoy What I do and Love being a Volunteer Firefighter. I'm not in the Greatest of Shape {Who is these Days ?} and I'm a smoker for all the wrong reasons just like you. But I'm Happy and can't complain --- My only Setback is I live Two Towns away from my Fire Company and Don't respond as much as I should or would like to but Safety is Key. No need to go speeding 4 miles to the fire hall for a washdown when I know the guys that live in town will get the rigs out. But Seriously, Hang in there and live your dream. If there is testing in your area Go for it What the Hell !! Theres nothing to loose in trying. I wish you luck in your future endevors.

  18. #18
    Captain Gonzo
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Our four newest firefighters range in age from 29 to 33. They had to pass the entrance exam, CPAT test, physical and psychological exams and then the 12 week Firefighter Basic Training course at the Academy.

    Rob, if you are really serious about making a change in your life, it all starts in your head. You have to make the commitment to make the changes to achieve your goals.

    Make an appointment with your Doctor for a complete physical exam. Ask him/her if Zyban would be right for you or have them refer you to a smoking cessation program and stick with it!

    Diet and exercise is important...check out the Health and Fitness section of Firehouse.com You can access it from the main page. There is a book by Michael Stefano entitled "The Firefighters Workout Book". This web page also has some excerpts from the book to get you started. Another book you might want to check out is "Body for Life" by Bill Phillips. You have to eat healthy to be healthy, so start watching what you eat!

    Remember these two things when you start:

    If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail! Set a goal and keep it in sight.

    Attitude and aptitude equal altitude.

    You can do it...many of the firefighters posting on these forums have been through similar or worse circumstances and they have achieved their goals and dreams!

    ------------------
    Firefighters: rising to accept the challenge!
    Captain Gonzo


    [This message has been edited by Captain Gonzo (edited 04-08-2001).]

  19. #19
    SmokeEater31
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Cpt. Bill,
    I don't want you to feel that i was angry, or that you have to justify your feelings on the matter. I would not have asked if I didn't want the answer. I appreciate your honest approach to the issues at hand. After all, it is something I have had to consider. Today we had a structure and I handled real well, so I was happy.

    Regarding the wife issue.
    Counseling is something she refuses to do. I have read posts that state I should communicate. Well, it is not possible because she is just that way.

    I am not trying to justify anything, honestly. It is just the way things are with my life.

    Thanks again everyone for responding.

    ------------------
    Your Brother In The Service,
    Rob Herpel
    FF/EMT
    Vice-Pres./Asst. EMS Coordinator
    Fremont Rural Fire Department

  20. #20
    Icerader
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Brother Rob,

    Enough said by me, in fact, more than enough. From the heart, I wish you the best of luck.

    Capt Bill

    [This message has been edited by Icerader (edited 04-08-2001).]

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