02-14-2000, 11:22 AM #1Karl NeubeckerFirehouse.com Guest
Tell me about Career Firefighting
I am a college student who is seriously considering a career in firefighting. I have been involved in EMS for six years and have worked closely with firefighters so I know the basics, but I would like to know what career ff's out there think about their jobs. Do you enjoy them? What's good/bad about them? What are the better systems to work under? Can it be tough to "make ends meet" with a firefighter's salary? Anything you can tell me about it would be helpful.
02-14-2000, 05:31 PM #29m18Firehouse.com Guest
I'm a full-time firefighter/EMT-I in a small combination department. I have to say I still very much enjoy my job. It's the most fun I think I could have and still get paid...in fact on Fridays I still laugh when I get my check...not necessarily over the (small) amount, but the fact that I actually get paid to do this! Best parts...helping people who may be having the worst day (or the last) of their lives, comraderie, and getting the job done. Also the schedule (24 hour shifts--48 hour week).Worst parts...the politics (why do we need so many fire engines? why do they make so much noise? You guys get paid to sleep! Town government which has no idea what we do every day and no interest in finding out. Trying to get the job done with a chronic shortage of personnel) It's like the commercial said--- it's the toughest job you'll ever love!
[This message has been edited by 9m18 (edited February 14, 2000).]
02-14-2000, 09:05 PM #3Karl NeubeckerFirehouse.com Guest
Thanks for your reply. One more question- Can you give me hints on becoming a firefighter? I understand that it starts usually with a written, maybe a physical test and then its a matter of waiting until a department contacts you. Is this correct? Is it the same process for smaller departments as it for larger ones? Do you usually apply for one department at a time or is it a group thing? Thanks again,
02-16-2000, 10:03 AM #49m18Firehouse.com Guest
I would suggest a few things, if I may be so bold.
1- Stay in school and get your degree. Many (most?) departments want to see at least an associate's degree.
2-sign up as a volunteer for a department of some sort in your area if possible. You'll learn a lot, and the experience and training you will get will be helpful if you're looking for a full-time position.
At least here in NH, you can expect to have to take a written, general knowlege test (in NH, it's administered by the state) followed by a physical agility test. At this point you are put on a list of eligible candidates. Towns or cities looking to hire will use this list to establish a list of people to call for interviews, oral boards, etc. Now there is nothing that says a department MUST go this route, but I think most do due to liability, fairness, and other reasons. Stick to it--- it took me a few years of going through the process to get hired.
Hope this helps.
02-16-2000, 11:15 AM #5Lieutenant GonzoFirehouse.com Guest
Most of the career departments in Massachusetts have an entrance exam. Some of the cities and town are civil service communities, the exam is statewide and given by the state Human Resources Division. Cities and town that are not civil service usually hire an outside firm to create an entrance exam for them. There will be a physical agility test and a physical examination. Some departments are going a step further and doing psychological evaluations.
After getting hired, you go to the State's fire academy or the Department will run it's own drill school. The learning process never stops.
I think its the greatest career in the world. It has hours of learning, times of boredom, times of fun and laughter along with moments of terror....but it also has the comeraderie among firefighters that John and Jane Q. Public will never really understand. A firefighter has two families...one they live with and one they work with and both of them are intertwined.
Take care and stay safe...Lt. Gonzo
[This message has been edited by Lieutenant Gonzo (edited February 16, 2000).]
02-16-2000, 05:45 PM #621TFDFirehouse.com Guest
We are a statutory city in Ohio, that means we follow state law. In Ohio you get a 20% bonus of your passing score for military credit. That's hard to overcome for a non-vet. I tell all interested parties to join the military if they aren't a vet already. I also advise them to get their paramedic certification. I get 10 names for every one slot that I have to fill and I can take anyone of the 10. I'll usually take a medic because it saves me two years of training costs and I can put them to work right away. By the way, we all have to be FF/PM's on our dept. I also tell people to take as many civil service test as they can, just to gain experience in test taking. After our entrance exam we hold an Agility test ( based on Combat Challenge), extensive background check conducted by PD,
2 oral interviews, Medical & psych evaluations. Good Luck in your career.
Take Care & Stay Safe.
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