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  1. #1
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    Post Military or College

    I am trying to get information and opinions on which woulde be better to start in the fire service, whether going to college and getting a bachelors degree in fire science or going through the Navy's fire program. Any input would be appreciated.


  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber mtnfireguy's Avatar
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    My two cents for what its worth!!

    Do both!!

    Go to the military get some training and experience and your military service out of the way and then let the military pay for your college education. You can probably knock out some of it while you're in.

    And my personal choice for a firefighter program would be go with the Air Force, not the Navy.
    Buckle Up, Slow Down, Arrive Alive
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    I almost agree completely with mtnfireguy. I left for the Navy right after high school graduation and thats where I was introduced to firefighting, and have been doing it ever since.

    With the military you'll get the discipline, the free training and then you can use your GI Fund for any school you choose. However, if you do decide on the military and want a firefighting rate, make sure thats decided before you leave for boot camp and is in writing. Otherwise you may end up in a position you're not too happy with.

    Now this is where my opinion differs from mtnfireguy The Navy has excellent fire training programs--they've come a long way in the last couple years. I dont know anything about the AF training program, so I'm not qualified to make any remarks . I think the best thing to do, if you really are considering the military, is to go and talk to both recruiters, look at their job sheets for firefighter, see what each branch(s) can offer for you and go from there.

    Good luck on your decision.

    Lady.
    "Let every nation know..that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty"---JFK, Jan.1961

  4. #4
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    okay this is my personal thoughts. I say college. no that i don't think the miltary not great. But with college you can see your family more.plus no boot camp. but it's up to you.

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    [ 01-23-2002: Message edited by: ExQuint12A ]


  6. #6
    Forum Member MetalMedic's Avatar
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    If you are considering being a firefighter in a civil service job, you might want to check to see if you get bonus points for either and how much that would be. Then I would base my decision accordingly. It has been a while, but when I was taking tests, most places gave military bonus points but did not give any for college. This may have changed, but if that is still the case, do the military option. Once you are out, you can use the military benefits to help pay for your college during the time you are taking tests to find a job.
    Richard Nester
    Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.

    "People don't care what you know... until they know that you care." - Scott Bolleter

  7. #7
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    The Army has a very small military firefighting force, normally no more than two or three guys per post, often fewer. (Army firefighters are GS Civilians or contractors depending on the post.)

    The Air Force used to (and I haven't been around an Air Base since '93 so this is dated) used to have quite a few military firefighters. Nice thing was they rotated between the Crash Stations at the runway and the Structural Stations on the base (houseing area, etc.) so they got to do both crash and structural firefighting.

    I don't know a darn thing about the Navy.

  8. #8
    Senior Member fire69dawg's Avatar
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    Well first you should how far and where you want to go. If you plan to be in adminstration then you should get your degree, definitely. If not, depending on your location, the degree may not help you. I have had my Associates Degree for nearly 8 years, and it hasn't helped me get into a full time dept yet. If you shoot for departments that are smaller and don't use civil service the degree thing may work in your favor. If you are taking civil service tests, the degree thing may not work until the 1st or 2nd interview, BUT the military points will work with most civil service tests. Most of all just keep at it. I continue to further my education while I wait out that full time position.

  9. #9
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    cumberland, i`m a firefighter in the air force so if you have any questions, you can e-mail me and i`ll get back with you.
    as far as the training goes, it is great. in under 2 years i have gotten firefighter I & II, EMT-B, ARFF (airport rescue firefighter) driver-operator pumping apparatus, MAZ-MAT awareness and ops. plus i`m about to take a saving your own class. as far as the hours, we work 24 hour shifts at the fire station, after basic training, which is only 6 1/2 weeks and really easy, most of the time you forget that your in the military.
    like said before, make sure if you do decide, that you get a guaranteed firefighter position.

  10. #10
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    Since the Forestal incident, everybody in the Navy is a firefighter.

    Honorably discharged vets usually get a few extra points on the civil service test.

    Why not do both?

    Join the military and go to college at the same time.

  11. #11
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    Well here's my advice, especially if you need the military like I did. Join up, not the Navy, not the Marines. Only because your idea of "firefighter" won't be in those two branches. I joined the Army, Air Force may be better suited to someone looking for an easier time. While your in, get some friggin' college hours, as many as you can take as soon as you can. Personally, I'd take something totally unrelated to the fire service. Come up with a plan B, or at least somethin' you might add on the side when you get on a municipal f.d. later.

    BUT-----We also weren't entrenched in this whole diggin' up towelheads outta their fightin' holes when I signed on either...

  12. #12
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    I'm a prior USAF Firefighter, and that's what helped me get hired.

    My recommendation is to go Air Force, and get Fire Protection Specialist guaranteed before you sign anything.

    As an Air Force firefighter, you'll get excellent fire training, work 24 hour shifts as a firefighter on an AF base (probably not close to home, but hey, ya gotta leave the nest sometime!).
    You can take college classes and the Air Force will pay for them, even Fire Science classes.

    Having full time experience and a fire science degree under your belt will definitely help you get hired. Most city departments won't hire you anyway until you're a little older and have some life experiences.
    Living the dream...

  13. #13
    Senior Member huff317's Avatar
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    GO AIR FORCE first! I truly think that you can have the best of both worlds doing just that. They will get you all the certs you need, plus you will get college hours in the process. I am currently an active duty USAF Security Policeman. I volunteer with my local FD, and have been vollie since '95. Love it, but don't have the certs I need to go civilian (not that I would be able to given the current world situation) so I work for "gratitude of my community" At any rate, definitely go Air Force, and let them pave the way for your career---can't go wrong.

  14. #14
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    I agree with going to the military first, take as much college as you can while in and use the GI bill for later college.
    I went into the Army myself and i think the dose of maturity and discipline and world learning it gave me are the biggest reason I can safely say I am who I am today. I did a lot of growing up while in there and I would recommend everyone give it a whirl, whatever branch it is.
    If you dont go for a firefighting job, then try to get into the most technical job you can.
    I was a hell raising sot of a 20 year old when i went in, but somehow my test scores where good enough to allow me to take almost any skill they had open at the time. of course i thought attack helicopters were bad***** and cool so i went for 68J, aircraft armament tech. Lots of electronics and computers involved, plus i got to go on gunneries and the ground crew got to go up and ride front seat and fire off some rounds if there was some left over after the pilots finished qualifying. I got to do the crazy and cool stuff and learned more about skills, life and people than i could have got in a life time of not being there.
    You have to ultimately make the decision yourself, but just be assured you will carry your head a lot higher after a tour in the military,
    PRIDE ! a good thing.
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  15. #15
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    Here's the best of both worlds: Go Air National Guard or a Reserve branch. You will get the same training and certifications as the active duty and get some GI Bill money. You can keep your civilian life, your job, and go to college. You'll also be able to apply at the full time FDs. The Air Force has Firefighter jobs in the Guard and Reserve-my base in Michigan has about 25 in both. USMC Reserve has Crash Crew firefighters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and California. Army National Guard also has firefighters-we have two platoons of them in northern Michigan.
    I'm the Crash Chief for the USMCR unit in Michigan. If you have any questions about the Guard or Reserve email me. If I don't have an answer I can get one.

  16. #16
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    Some departments now require college degree's or a minimum number of semester hours - so check into the departments you want to work for, either way the college is good to have.

    The military is a great experience and can get you veteran's preference - a big step up on most jobs.
    (Reserve or Guard will not get you veteran's preference unless you are called to active duty for at least a year.)

    I too would recommend the Air Force...just make sure you get a guarantee for Fire Protection Specialist.

    Of all the branches, Air Force Fire Protection is the most like being a civilian career firefighter and the training is the best. You can get college credit for tech school and they will also pay your tuition so you can get those college credits. If you're lucky, you might even get tuition paid for and time to take some of the classes on duty.

    The discipline and responsibility you learn in the military will stay with you for life. You will have some real world firefighting experience - kind of a resume builder, veteran's preference and education...what could be better?

    Best of luck!

    [ 01-03-2002: Message edited by: SquadHog ]


  17. #17
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    I just want to thank everyone for their input, it was very helpful.

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    Join the Navy, see the world and get an education for only 25% of the cost. They pay the other 75% plus you get a pay check and free ride anywhere in the world. Your training is paid for as well as your housing. I loved it so much I signed on for another six years after my first ten. How many people can say at the age of 38, if you go in at 18, they are retired? Not too many. Do the four years get the education and military experience that everyone likes to see then apply for a job. You can always stay in the reserves after active duty and still retire at a young age.

    [ 01-06-2002: Message edited by: pwc606 ]


  19. #19
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    OK...I see nothing much as been mentioned about the National Guard or Reserves. If active duty isn't your thing, talk to a National Guard or reserve recruiter. The Air and Army guard/reserve both have fire protection forces. Training wise, everyone now goes to Goodfellow AFB for initial fire training. In the Reserves/Guard, you can get your training, serve part time and STILL go to college. With the Guard, many states have insentives ABOVE AND BEYOND what the federal side offers. Nebraska used to pay 75% tuition IN ADDITION to what the Army gave. (That was 1983).

    If you want an active duty position, GO AIR FORCE. Remember as mentioned earlier, the Air Force will fill what they need first, so if they don't have any firefighter slots open, they will offer something else. Be careful.

    Contrary to what was mentioned ealier, the Army does have some LARGE fire departments, bust most are now civilian staffed. A few still have 51M (Army firefighter). We have 3 stations and 45 firefighters at my base, and we're not that big. Ft Rucker has 19 stations or so I've heard. ABOVE ALL, if you are an active duty, greensuit wearing firefighter, YOU ARE A SOLDIER FIRST. In the OD green fire truck I deploy with, there are rifle racks for M-16s.

    I have spent the last 20 years in both active duty, reserve, and civilian firefighting with the Army. Having worked side by side with some Air Force guys, they eat better, have some better equipment, and got to stay in hotels while I stayed in a tent. I plan on staying another 20 though. I've seen things and places that a lot of my non-military brothers would ever think of.

    Good luck

  20. #20
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    Your choice of the Navy is an excellent one. I am in the Navy. Been in for 12 years. I am an electronics technician by trade, but, as mentioned in an earlier post, everyone in the Navy is a firefighter. That doesn't mean that you couldn't be a firefighter in the Navy full time. That is an option too. While you are in, go to college part time. Cash in on the college credits you will get for your Navy training and experience, join the local volunteer FD where you are stationed, and the 5 points you will get on the civil service exam certainly won't hurt. But, most importantly, You will have fun while you are doing it!



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