Thread: leaving the DOD

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    Default leaving the DOD

    recently left the Army fire service for a civilian fire dept. The "problem" is, I was a Captain with the Feds. I left due to the possibility of job cuts, contracting, and the arrival of a "new" fire chief ( who is a slang term for a dog of multiple breeds). Having been a captain, plus having the required DOD training and certification for it, I went to a firefighter/paramedic position. The department I'm now on stays very busy. BUT, there's no officer training/development, very little training for the line, and I also found out I've been a paramedic longer than anyone here. Needless to say, this has started some "talking" around here. Me? I just keep my mouth shut. Yes, I want to be a Captain again. BUT, I'm also willing to put in my time before I receive that opportunity. Anyone else ever been in a situation like this? How did you deal with it? Are there any more ex-feds out there who have done something like this?

    I don't really want to go back to the DOD, plus, I'm too damn old to do career hopping. Maybe with time, things will change. However, I said that to myself for the last 12 years with the base I was formerly employed. Now MY advice...someone on here once said that if the grass looks greener somewhere else, it probably gets more fertilizer. How true.

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    Well Cap, I'm not exactly in the same boat as you, but I just recently left DOD for a city department. I held a GS7 slot as a FF/PM and I left it to be a rookie FF in a local city. I did take a pay cut, but I feel that it was worth it. I only spent about 2 years DOD. I have heard alot of arguements from both sides as to whether going or staying was better. But I must say that I am truley happier in the city. I think in your situation, given time your experience as a Capt. and a PM will show your talent as a leader and opportunities will open up for you. Staying quiet is still probably your best bet right now. Stay safe sir and good luck!!

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    Default good move

    Just take it easy. You did the right thing and left the DoD. The people that I have delt with and seen in the DoD fire service really have very little training and came into the GS from the service and have seen vey little. Ya I know that this will **** some of them off but this is the truth. The people that are captains or chiefs I wonder how they obtained it by the good old boy way and not on street smarts or seen it. Just be glad that you got out my friend.

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    Angry Think

    You should not put all federal fire fighters in the same box. Yes many feds are from the military, but how can you say they have not seen anything and have no training? Many are from airfields and have responded to aircraft crashes with live ammo involved. Have You? All federal fire fighters are now required to complete DOD (NFPA) training before promotions. How many city departments are at that level? Yes we have less fire then the city departments, but our fire prevention divisions are top shelf. I work on a small two company department and we provide fire, ems, haz mat at the tech level, and tech. rescue. Federal fire departments also do little things like reset breakers in the middle of the night for a family that has one member off in some far land.

    You have the right to think what you like. Please walk a mile in our shoes before you place us all in the same box. Please email me and set up a visit.

    Henry Hoffman
    Henry C. Hoffman Jr.

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    Yeah. What H Hoffman said. Being a close friend of "capnomore" he did not leave because of training or not getting any "action". The training I have received has been second to none. Chanute and the new school in Texas are state of the art. I have seen NO fire training facility that can match them yet. And as far as "action", there's a reason the feds don't get fires like the city. We are doing our job. PREVENTION. When you have been in some Bosnia craphole on a crash truck, or on a Somali airfield with shot up aircraft with live ordnance coming in hard, then you can tell me about experience. The certiifcations we now have to meet BEFORE promotions keep the lounge chair quarterbacks on the tailboard, and the hard chargers in moving ahead. The civilian dept I'm with now doesn't have anything that can compare. So far, I have not seen ANY civilian dept in this area that could match the training I received from the DOD. The pay and work hours however, were another story.

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    I have to also agree that while most Federal departments do not run the amount as our civilian counterparts, the majority of federal departments do now receive some of the best training / certification available. In our case we have an on going program that began in 1998. We will have ten members complete the program on 26 August 2002. Each member will have received Fire Officer 1-4, Fire Inspector 1&2, Fire Instructor 1-3, HazMat IC, HazMat Tech., Driver / Operator. Our civilian counterparts could only dream of the training, equipment, pay and benefits we currently receive. I know this is not true in all parts on the country but here in central Kentucky the Federal Service is a well sought after career. The only draw back of the Federal Fire Service of course is the schedule. There is a large number of Federal Departments that have completed or in the process of completing the Accreditation process. I feel assured with today's Federal Fire Service you will see a higher percentage of federal departments receiving accreditation compared to the civilian sector. The one facet that helps the Federal service is the ability to share ideas and programs with other departments throughout the world. With the adoption of recognized standards world wide, sharing our resources have made for a truly professional system. The days of that good ol'e boy network has all but gone by the wayside. The one challenge we face here is keeping the aggressive troops happy. All the training in the world does not do much good if the troops do not get a chance to use it. It seems the only way to accomplish this is to have strong Mutual Aid agreements with surrounding jurisdictions. My advice to those considering leaving the Federal Service for the civilian departments is weigh all options and make a decision based on your desires and family considerations.

    Clifford Montgomery
    Fire Chief
    Blue Grass Army Depot

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    Cliff, that is no **** about getting all kinds of training but not a lot of use of it. That sucks *** for the guys who are action-hounds, which to be honest, is there any other reason to get into the fire service? And don't gimme that crap about oh I just want to help people...please

    Capnomore, I left a DOD dept. not too long ago, although I was active duty which is a different situation. But my Capt. then was 32 y/o. He said himself he was "trapped". He wanted a city job so bad, but he thought it'd be foolish to have to compete for jobs with guys my age, with all the experience he had. And for someone like him, married, kids, steady job, he was prolly right. But how do you know? He left that dept. to go to the university dept. up the road, more calls, 24/48, better morale, and the opportunity to teach. Prolly took a pay cut, prolly could be the chief. But he's happy. Insanely happy.

    If your dept. is assed up, a less often quoted phrase of MLK's comes to mind: BE THE CHANGE you want to see in the world...

    <----------------stepping off soapbox
    ...if you put the handline in the right spot, you won't have to jump out the window...
    -Andy "Nozzles", SQ18, 9-11-01

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    The DoD definitely seems to be in a transition period right now. While there are for sure some cruddy departments out there, there are also some very good ones. Many are on what I like to refer as the five year plan (most of the rockheads wil be retired out in five years or less). The main problem in many cases seems to be when you get a young, gung-ho, hard charging young firefighter who wants to eat smoke and put out fire become dis-illusioned when he finds out babysitting aircraft isn't as exciting as he originally thought. As far as the pay and hours go, It seems to depend upon the part of the country you are in and the local economy. I know the pay difference for where I am is pretty substantial. The municipal departments just can't compete. Most of our firefighters are municipal guys who have transitioned to Fed because of higher gross pay. I suspect it is the same in many of the smaller communities in the US. But, it is definitely the opposite in larger urban areas where the cost of living is much higher and the Feds are less attractive. Even though we don't run as many emergencies as most city departments, we usually get at least one good call a day. During fire season we are typically out chasing wildfires. It is not uncommon to have 3-4 fires a day with overnight or week long responses during this period.

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    The DoD definitely seems to be in a transition period right now. While there are for sure some cruddy departments out there, there are also some very good ones. Many are on what I like to refer as the five year plan (most of the rockheads wil be retired out in five years or less). The main problem in many cases seems to be when you get a young, gung-ho, hard charging young firefighter who wants to eat smoke and put out fire become dis-illusioned when he finds out babysitting aircraft isn't as exciting as he originally thought. As far as the pay and hours go, It seems to depend upon the part of the country you are in and the local economy. I know the pay difference for where I am is pretty substantial. The municipal departments just can't compete. Most of our firefighters are municipal guys who have transitioned to Fed because of higher gross pay. I suspect it is the same in many of the smaller communities in the US. But, it is definitely the opposite in larger urban areas where the cost of living is much higher and the Feds are less attractive. Even though we don't run as many emergencies as most city departments, we usually get at least one good call a day. During fire season we are typically out chasing wildfires. It is not uncommon to have 3-4 fires a day with overnight or week long responses during this period.

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    Red face

    okay you guys you won and I'll keep my hipe boots on too! You can say what you would like but I know the real truth. My friends son started at Sac City FD after spending 10 yrs. in the fed system as a firefighter and could not wait to get out of all the bull and closed minded things that he put up with and hearing of the things that went on in the dept. it just made me sick. My friend is retired from San Jose FD as a chief officer. And I know of others that have left and the stories they tell about the fed fire depts it is sad.

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    I believe that you have made a very good decision. When I departed the U.S Navy I took a job with a DOD department in MD. which was an excellent oppurtunity for me but after about a year I felt that I was not getting the call volume or the expierience that I was looking for and like you cappenmore possible job cuts.I was also interested in becoming a Fire Instructor but it seems like with the DOD there are limited avenues to take your career. The 24/24 didn't bother because I really have a desire and a passion for this line of work but i just new that there was a few things missing. I departed the DOD after 2 years for a position with a much bigger Md. department. My exposure has increased times ten which has made me a much better firefighter. I felt that when I get promoted to Lt and maybe someday Captain I want to have the expierience not the training to lead my team in and out of that working fire. I can agree with how you feel when you compare the 2 Cappenmore but my opinion is the Federal and Muninciple are two different types of departments. Not saying that one is above the other because we all produce and get the same result. But for those who have been on both sides of the fence probably can agree with me. I think you are going to become a good asset to that Dept so don't look backwards keep looking forward.

  12. #12
    truckmonkey42
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    Lightbulb Get out, Stay out

    I think the best move any DOD FF can do is get out and stay out. Go to a city or county dept. DOD hours are pathetic, run few calls, great training but no use. When DOD wises up and gets more progressive thinking chiefs maybe things will change, but until then have fun. You can say what you want, but I did my time and have seen both worlds and so have many of my friends and each and every one of us that got out of DOD is happy and those that stayed in aren't.

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    Default Easy On the DOD

    I like many others in this post went from DOD to the civilian sector. I bounced all around looking for an active base. I've worked every branch but Coast guard. I didn’t spend all that much time at any one of these bases. One thing I did see was an excellent training program that rewarded these guys for such long hours.
    It is also true that DOD bases don't get the call volume of there civilian counterparts. We spent most of our time on inspections and building familiarization, this coupled with the Military’s no-nonsense approach to keeping a clean area almost eliminates the chance for fires.
    However with the institution of RIT and FAST Truck I spent countless nights assisting many understaffed, off post companies. And if your looking for Haz - Mat you will not find a more aggressive well trained bunch of Men and Woman. Most of the equipment is state of the Art, “Especially the Air force stuff”.
    I guess the point of my post is to stick up for the DOD Brethren. Don’t get me wrong, I prefer being on with the city, I will never knock the DOD System. It gave me a great education and a Ton of experience. The only reason why I left was because of the hours. I work a 1/3 less hours with a lot less pay and love every min of it. Be safe, Stay Low, Go Slow

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    I to went from dod to civilan for two reasons one is the hours they put in and two was the lack of modern firefighting and training. I did leave in 1984, so I do not know if the training has progressed or not. They do see different situations than in the city, but the city can say the same thing. There are not to many semiconductor plants, large manufacturing plants, numerous high rises, etc.

    As for your origainal question it is like I have heard lately, that some people **** and moan because they do not get a promotion, but they are the ones that set on their butts while others are attending schools and bettering themselves. Which one would you pick at promoton time.

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    I responded to your post on this same subject on another thread, but cannot find it. Oh well.

    YES, you are not alone, I was in the same situation as you, I worked for the Federal Governemnt from 1985-1996. When I left the DOD I was a Captain and Acting Batallion chief in a pretty active base that was slated to close. I chose to make my own way in life and get hired with a municipal Department giving up the Captains Badge in hopes of getting it back not too far off in the future.

    Well, seven years later I am still riding tailboard watching litterally droves of young firefighters with only 3-5 years under thier belts getting promoted right past me. It has been told to me that even though the guys on the floor turn to me for help then the Sh*t hits the fan, I intimidate them and they want to keep me under wraps. I have since leaving the DOD been a Fire Chief also in a local FD in the same area here. PS, yes I still train and keep training to keep up with all the Johnny come latleys. but to no avail.

    Yes, I run 4 to 5 times more calls than when I was DOD, but I also remember top notch training with DOD and great equipment as well. I almost think that trying to compare DOD and City slugs is like trying to compare City boys and Wildland FF'rs. They are just two different breeds of heros in my mind. The DOD has in some intances more advantages than the City Dept do. ( I really miss working close to the miliarty aircraft and other DOD type of Industrial situations that my current emplyer would not be able to handle. )

    One major advantage for my life is the 56 hour workweek compared to the 72 hour week, what a differance that really makes. If the DOD could just get online that way, there would be no real reason to leave the DOD.

    Some of the above threads are kinda close as to I think the DOD has such great people and such great potencial. It for some reason is being held back from being a great Fire Service I think by charter. The DOD is not really into the Fire Service, it is just a necessity to to their main charter of military operations. You are just the Self Insured Insurance policy for the bases protection.

    I still miss the DOD though in some very good ways. Good luck to us all.

    Front line since 1983 and still going strong

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    Hey Wright:

    You are full of baloney man. How can you generalize about a group as diverse as the Federal Fire Fighters? There are some bases that don't do anyting but smells and bells sure but there are others that run calls constantly. Talk to the FFs at Camp Pendelton if you want to learn more about wildland fire fighting than you could in any other municpal Dept. Or the guys at 32nd street in San Diego or any of the numerous ship yards if you want to expand your knowledge on shipboard fire fighting. Or check our Wright Patterson AFB if you want to learn how to handle an aircarft emergency. Highrise tower fires, ask is here in Japan we get our fair share.

    My point is that while like all large entities we have some bad apples this is not the norm. The norm is a professional workforce that is well trained and in most cases well motivated.

    With the 1st anniversery of 9-11 coming up we should be talking about all the good we do not bashing one set of FFs because our little minds percieve them as less worth than another set.
    Brian Johnson
    Assistant Chief
    Okinawa, Japan

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    Red face

    Hey Johnson I'll still keep my hip boots on!!

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    Wright,
    Who still wears hip boots?
    have very little training and came into the GS from the service and have seen vey little
    When I came into the fire service I didn't have fire dept. training and had seen very little. I had an officer pointed out to me and was told to do what he said. I'm sure every prior service guy can handle that. I saw a Capt. attempting to dismantle a solar calculator to see if the batteries would fit in the T.V. remote. About the only thing you can learn from this guy is the location of the brooms. And yeah, he also knows how to crawl down a hall on his hands and knees looking for flames or feeling for heat (I taught my little girl to crawl the other way) but things have really changed and you have to change with the times. We just don't have that many fires anymore. What we are really lacking is medical and haz-mat training, but from reading this board sounds like the DoD guys have that under control too.
    When you have been in some Bosnia craphole on a crash truck, or on a Somali airfield with shot up aircraft with live ordnance coming in hard, then you can tell me about experience
    Fedfire, what were you talking about here? This is like saying, "Don't tell me about Friction Loss until you've fallen through a floor." If I went to a call and 'live ordnance [was] coming in hard', I would leave and wouldn't return until the police promised that the 'ordnance' thing was over. I'm sure it sucked over there, but it doesn't really count as fire fighting experience. Now if you were a janitor or something, that might count. LoL To be honest, I spend most of my work day cleaning or prentending to clean.

    Guys, it's really six to one and half a dozen to another. I know people are going to respond talking about all the great training and experience they have at dept. X, but if they were honest or you looked closely, something would be f*cked there too.

    Have a safe day and love ALL of our fellow firefighters.

    MO

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    You are right! In the end they are all pretty screwed up, City, county, or federal. All we can do is keep our head down and not add to the B. S. !!!

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    Angry

    Hey MO.....since you obviously havn't been a greensuit version of a firefighter (active duty, no FLSA, no overtime, and sent to places where people SHOOT at each other), then I will explain it to you. The members of the 369th ENG DET (Fire Protection) perfomed an extrication of injured soldiers in a minefield in Bosnia in 1996. Most of these guys are Philly firefighters. Think they ever did anything like that in Philly? (That's Philadelphia, PA by the way)
    The military has these things called combat aircraft that carry missles, rockets, bombs, etc...not to mention a flight crew (aka PEOPLE). When one of these things get some bullet holes in it, they might have a little problem landing correctly on a runway. That runway will probably be in an area where other soldiers live. Now, you may run away, but the crash crew won't. The Navy flight deck guys, Marines, and Army & Air Force all know they may come upon an aircraft with ordance on it. We have ways to deal with that. As far as the "cops" they were usually setting up an area so someone wouldn't take a pot shot at the guys in the silver suits or the ones with the red cross on thier arm.

    Are there things screwed up in the military??? Do you
    have to ask?? Should you judge someone else's experience or
    training just because YOU are not familiar with it? That's the
    whole point as to what was previously stated in past posts. That clear things up for ya?
    Last edited by Fedfire; 09-17-2002 at 12:45 AM.

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    Cool

    FedFire...Man, I can't wait to get sent somewhere where they might take a shot at our "coolguy" silver suits! I only saw that kind of action at AMR Topeka You better take a trip down here to Charleston and check out how the other half lives. Take care bro
    Brian Rowe
    Paramedic/Engineer
    Colleton County Fire/Rescue

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    HEY MEDIC! Air Force guys in a foreward combat area???? They don't have sattelite TV there! So did they put you on the rescue? Hopefully we WON"T get deployed anywhere. The next one may be nasty. (Have all your shots?) Good luck down there.

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    Default "Coolguy" silver suits!

    Doesn't everybody know that chicks dig silvers! Especially the old ones with the big floppy hood! It's the Baked Potato Effect in action.

    I believe this is the longest I have ever seen a thread last on this board. Good to actually see some activity for a change!

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    Should you judge someone else's experience or training just because YOU are not familiar with it?
    Isn't that what this whole thread was doing? That's the reason that I responded. I was trying to say that we're all really the same (protecting people and property) and that we should respect each other.
    I'm sure your boys from Philly will tell you that the 'ordinance' thing is not firefighting, it's WAR. My dept. has several guys that have been called up and are over seas fighting a WAR right now. Loss of like is expected and planned in WAR, it is not expected or planned for in firefighting.
    I know it was bad news over there and have no intention of belittling the experience. My whole family is military and have served in war-time. I have much respect for all of our warriors and hope like hell that I'm never in a situation like you described. Although, I would love to see some cross training in my area. My station is about 5-6 miles (as the crow flyes) from the Charleston AFB. We could easily respond to a plan with 'ordinance' and it would take the Air Force boys about 20 min. to get to us. And until the experts arrived, we would be evacuating people and setting up perimeters. It's a different job and I respect that.

    Good luck fella's

    MO

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    Okay MO.....I'll be sure to remember that responding to a crash, or a torched building, or a vehicle extrication is not firefighting because there's a war going on By the way, there was no war declared in Bosnia...it was a peacekeeping mission. So are we firefighters now?

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