1. #1
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    Default Houston/San Antonio Fire Departments

    I have some questions about both of these departments. I am currently attempting to become a member of each and am having trouble comparing each other. Both are very large cities, however Houston works 4 shifts and SA 3. I know that members of each department probably love their department, but I am trying to perform a pro/con list for each. If you do not wish to post the info on here please just send me a personal message at dunnp@okstate.edu Ultimately my decision will have to come down to who can offer me a job, but I am sitting with fairly good odds on each department. Please help me to form an informed decision in the event that I receive a conditional offer from both. Please also include if you work for the department or simply providing information off what you have heard. Iím sorry if this post upsets those that feel that I am jumping the gun, but I simply want to make the right decision for my family and myself.

    Pat
    (405) 624-3790

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    Well, Pat, I work for SAFD, but I don't really know enough about the HFD to give a comparison between the two.

    The only info I can share is maybe outdated, and it may be current, I don't know. But, it used to be that when you got hired by the HFD, you had to ride the ambulance for several years, and then you got to work on an engine or truck. I want to say it took about 5 years. In SAFD you don't have to work on an ambulance. The only time you MAY have to is when you promote to FAO (Fire Apparatus Operator-engineer). That's not a given, they may never try to stick you into EMS, but the possiblity remains that they may try. But, you can always refuse the promotion if you just don't want to work EMS, and then try again next time.

    I also remember that they (at laest used to) work 1 on, 1 off, 1 on, 1 off, 1 on and then something like 5 days off.... something like that anyway... I'm not 100% sure. Where we work 1 on and 2 off, unless you are in EMS then it's 1 on and 3 off. I don't know if they get "Kelly days" or not, we don't, but we get 9hrs. of overtime on every other check, automatic.

    Both are very large cities, however Houston works 4 shifts and SA 3.
    I'm not sure what you mean by that exactly, but I assume you're reffering to the schedule I mentioned.

    All in all it may boil down to who offers first... I know it would be safer to go with the first offer... as the other may never come. It's something to think about. Also, which of the cities are you more familiar with? That may help as well, although it sounds like either are good for you. I'm from the SA area, so it would be an easy choice for me of course.

    Knowing what the manpower of the companies in the Dept's is something important later on, that might not seem important to you now. By the terms of our contract with the city, The city is not allowed to run more than (I think) 6 CO's at 3 man staffing. The rest have to be at the full 4 man level. So, as an example, at ANY given time, 42 (or so)Enigne companies MUST have 4 men, with the remaining 6 ALLOWED to be at 3 men. It could be that HFD runs 3 men CO's all the time or not at all, I don't know, but it's something I would look at if I was making a pro/con list. Apparatus condition can be important too... does each city make an attempt to supply the Dept with "quality, suffecient" apparatus? You can go to SAFD and base your own opinions of the SAFD's fleet. You'll have to do your own legwork for HFD's . They may have some on a website, truth is I don't know.

    Anyway, sorry I could not be much help.... Let us know which one you choose, I'm getting curious myself. If you end up in SA, then maybe I'll see you around.
    http://www.sanantoniofire.org

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    Hey, 33motor...What is a Kelly Day???????????? I never heard that term before..

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    Lightbulb

    Well, Pat, I work for SAFD, but I don't really know enough about the HFD to give a comparison between the two.
    I, on the other hand, know nothing about SAFD, but a fair amount about HFD, having worked there from 1996 to 2001.

    What are you looking to know (not being quite as eloquent as 33motor )?
    Member IACOJ - Building crust and full of lust...

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    Pat my Dad always told me you have to get the job offer before you worry about taking the job....if you think about how difficult it is to get hired at a major US FD I believe his wisdom makes alot of sense.

    I would attempt to join both Dept's and the first one to offer a job should be where you go! Good Luck

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    Hey, 33motor...What is a Kelly Day???????????? I never heard that term before..
    It's based on the amount of hours you work. Basically, we work a 53 hr week, just part of being a FF etc... but to be fair, cities often offer either 12hrs off a month or 24 hrs. off every 2 months, paid. SAFD does not offer the time off like my 2 previous Dept's did... however to be in accourdance, they give us the automatic overtime pay, which is 9 hrs. It boils down to 9 hrs with the time off as well, but cities usually just round it off to accommodate the shift better.

    That's it in a nutshell.... hope that explains it well enough.
    Last edited by 33motor; 10-29-2003 at 04:41 PM.
    http://www.sanantoniofire.org

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    They way I understand Kelly Days in a 3 shift department is this:

    You pick one day per week (usually based on seniority so probies may get Mondays and a senior guy could get Firdays or Saturdays). If you work "A" shift, whenever your shift day falls on that day of the week, you get that day off paid.

    Like 33 said, it usually works out to a day off every 2 months.
    FTM-PTB-DTRT

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    Default SAFD-HFD

    Pat, something you may want to consider is the hiring/training process of either department. Houston offers something called a "Fast Track" program where if you are already a FF you have a better chance of getting hired (from what I understand). Also, HFD will only require you to go through a short orientation course before you start shift work. San Antonio however is a totally different story. The competition for a job here is very fierce and it makes no difference to the city if you have any FF experience or not. Certified or not every cadet hired is required to complete the full SAFD drill school which includes the EMT-B class. I think 33Motor covered the rest. Both are great FD's, good luck in getting hired onto either one! Drop me a PM if you have any more questions on SAFD. -46Truck

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    WTFD10,

    Usually they just give you your kelly day on your 19 (or so) shift. That's based on your start date... it just continues on like that afterwards. So, really, like shift work, the days you get off just sort of fall into place. You may have a kelly day that someones else has too, and then you may not. At first I sort of missed my kelly days... but that 9hrs. of overtime on every other check is nice, especially when it's coupled with another 12hr. overtime shift here and there.
    http://www.sanantoniofire.org

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    I like what I'm hearing about these Kelly days... but I guess I'm still confused about how it works.

    We work a 53-hour week with a 106-hour pay period. On pay periods where we would work more than 106 hours, we either work half-shifts or come in a couple of hours late on a tour. On pay periods where we won't work the full 106 hours, they make us come in for a 36-hour tour to make up for it.

    Hearing you guys talk, I figure there has got to be a better way. Don't you guys think?

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