I've been considering a career change into the fire department from my current work in computers (short version of long story: I made a career choice mistake, went for the money jobs instead of trying to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life, and now I hate being strapped to a computer 9 hours a day). I'm trying to find out as much as I can about what it takes to land a FF job, and I've been reading a bit about the exams, academy, prior training, etc. So I've got a few questions..
I live in Jersey, and there isn't a test here for quite some time as far as I know. But I've heard that taking tests in other regions for practice is a good idea, and I'd like to take as many tests as I can. How can I get test schedules for other areas? Are all tests state-run? Or are there tests for smaller areas (county, city, etc.)?
Basically what goes on at the academy? How long are you there for? What can you do to be prepared for the things you'll encounter in the academy?
I'd like to get certified as an EMT before I test in my home state. I know local colleges usually give courses for EMT training. What does it take to become an EMT? How many courses? About how long does it take (if I took night classes)? How much more does it take to go on to higher levels (Paramedic)?
Thanks for any help you guys can offer.
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02-06-2004, 11:46 PM #1
- Join Date
- Feb 2004
Questions about testing, academy, EMT, etc..
02-07-2004, 12:09 PM #2
More & more states are adopting the nationally accepted & practiced CPAT testing for physical agility & aptitude. It's my understanding that many academies are either state or county run, thus offering SOME uniformity within the state. They're also following most of the same national standards, so what you learn in Joisey should be consistent with other places (though you'll find that some states won't accept it).
You may have luck taking a department-based fire program if you can find anything like that in the area. Don't be afraid to drive an hour for this, either. Get to know your local fire folks, express your interest, and they will definitely point you in the right direction. If there are call/volunteer opportunities, jump on that. ANY experience you get will greatly improve your chances of going anywhere (even getting into an academy will be easier as part of a department).
EMT is an excellent way to go! You're looking at 120-130 hours for most programs, and you're not limited to colleges for this either. Many fire departments, ambulance services, and hospitals offer classes (again, not sure of NJ though). This will be another area that your local fire departments will be able to direct you through the proper channels. You would likely be in a class that meets twice a week in the evenings (for any of the non-college classes) and the occasional Saturday where you might do Haz-Mat awareness, auto extrication, and so forth. As a side note, most colleges are offering this now to people because it's increasingly added to all other medical programs so you get a feel for PRE hospital medicine. If you work 9-5 in computers, an EMT class and even department-based fire classes can probably be done after work with little trouble. If you must go to the academy, you could face some decisions with time out of work.
Paramedic is a whole other story. Generally programs would like to see someone with EMS experience get in there, but there have been some cases where a college (NH Technical Institute here in NH) takes someone zero to hero in 3 years of EMS training, EMT-Basic, ride time, then into paramedic training along with the associate degree. Paramedic programs are generally taking 1000 hours of your time to fulfill the requirements (class & clinical time). New Hampshire is offering quite a few hospital-based programs without the degree where ya meet once a week for a year to get it all done, and then test with the National Registry. My advice: start with EMT-Basic & Firefighter 1 to get a feel for the game, and decide what you want to do from there. After a year of stupid $hit you might decide computers are less aggravating! I also have a degree in computer science. Hopefully you will find this as rewarding as we all do.
Good luck, and keep us posted with whatever you do! Take care
Last edited by kghemtp; 02-07-2004 at 12:17 PM.~Kevin
Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong
02-07-2004, 03:04 PM #3
- Join Date
- Feb 2004
Thanks for the info. Every bit of information that I can get helps in my decisions and course of action in becomming a firefighter.
For now I'm going to look into the EMT courses and I've already started my physical training routine to prepare for the tests. I'm also going to try and find out what tests are coming up in my area that I could take just for practice, and I guess I'll figure out my next move as I go along.
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