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  1. #1
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    Default Questions about becoming a firefighter in Denver

    Hello! Iím thinking about starting a firefighting career, but Iím not really sure where to start. I live in the Denver area, and was told by a local fire department that the best place to start is to get an EMT Basic certification and then apply as a volunteer. What other suggestions do you have? Should I take fire science classes? Should I apply with no firefighter or EMT experience, or is that just a waste of time? I hear firefighting jobs are very competitive. With proper training/certification, how long roughly does it take to get a full time job in this region?

    One other quick question. I have asthma, but I use an inhaler to control it and itís mainly induced by exercise. As long as I use the inhaler before I exercise, Iím fine. Would asthma keep me from being selected as a firefighter?

    Many thanks for your help!


  2. #2
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    Start by taking an EMT class. You need an EMT to apply just about everywhere. Depending on where you are, there are a few places to take it. Health One is near Swedish in Denver, Red Rocks in Westminster, Front Range in Westminster, Longmont, Boulder, and Fort Collins, and Thompson Valley in Loveland. Here's a link that lists all of them.

    You don't have to take any fire science classes to get hired. Having an education can imporve you chances, but there are A LOT of fire science students that will probably never get hired because they can't interview.

    If you'd like to, you can volunteer. The only reason you should be volunteering is because you want to learn though. Being a volunteer will NOT improve your chance of getting hired, contrary to some common belief (guys that believe that haven't been hired usually). There are a couple of places that are good to volunteer, but without knowing what area you live in, I can't really tell you. There are also a couple of departments that only hire their volunteers, so if you like that department, you'll have to volunteer for them.

    Firefighting jobs are very competitive, even more so than medical school. The difference is that most people applying to medical school know what they are doing. Most firefighter applicants have no clue at all. You can get one by talking to other firefighters and guys on here. You could get hired your first try, but realistically it takes guys who are prepared anywhere from 2 to 8 years, depending on the economy and how well they do testing.

    Asthma is generally not a problem. However, you should see a specialist if you haven't and ask about preventative medications. Drugs like Advair can really change your life. I know a couple of guys that would take 4 or 5 puffs a day on their inhaler but now just take one a day on the Advair and haven't used Albuterol in months. You really don't want to be reaching for an inhaler during the academy.

    There is a test held twice a year called the DRCOG (people call it the "Dr. Cog"). About 10 or 15 departments hire from that test, but a lot of departments don't use it. Here's a little info about a few departments:

    South Metro (South Denver Metro area): they have been on a hiring freeze for a while but have a tax raise vote coming up May 4. If it passes, they will be hiring a lot. You can sign up for a CPAT on their website under employment, if you're in decent shape, I'd recommend it.


    West Metro (Westminster and Littleton): they hire every two years and run two academies a year. They will hire January 2005. Their physical is the toughest around and you need to be in great shape to pass and very good shape to score well. They actually rank the physical times, it is not pass/fail.

    I can tell you about other departments, but I don't know where you live or what you want.

    If you want any more info, just ask.

    Eric

  3. #3
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    Talking thanks!

    EricCSU,

    This is newbie2004ÖI couldnít get that user name to work again, so I registered under a new nameÖanyway, thank you for your reply, it was very informative and helpful.

    I live in Arvada. What do you know about their department or nearby departments, volunteer or regular? Also, do you know anything about the Firefighter One training academy at Red Rocks? Would you recommend it to someone like me?

    Thank you again!

  4. #4
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    You have a few options since you live in that area. Arvada is a good department and they hire volunteers twice a year. The gossip is that the chief and some higher-ups don't really like volunteers and want to get rid of them. That's just second hand info, find out for yourself.

    Another option is Wheatridge Fire which has a lot of great volunteers and is definitely well respected by surrounding departments. They have two classes a year and they will put you through FFI and EMT. I have a buddy on the dept, if you want more info, I can ask him to email you.

    As far as red rocks goes, I'm conflicted. I actually went to that FFI and have been to a pro academy too. Red Rocks sucked compared to a pro academy, but I have a friend who went to a 10 person dept run class and that sucked way more than red rocks. Moral is, apply to Arvada and Wheatridge if you want to volunteer, and they'll pay for your training. If you really want to get right into it, pay the $1200 and do it at Red Rocks. OH yeah, if you do, just know that the majority of kids in that class (about 90%) would not stand a chance in a pro academy or dept, and about half won't even pass the practical exam. So, be mature and above the stupidity of the group. You'll see what I mean.

    Eric

  5. #5
    COFire282
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    Hi, Newbie2004:

    I've been in the process of becoming a career FF for almost 3 years now. It's a long, hard process, but it will be worth it!

    I agree with the post above--go for a volunteer position so you can get a taste for the job of FF. I just got on with Wheat Ridge & I love it! The academy is quick, time-consuming, and challenging, but the job of a FF is the same--you'll always be learning, training, busting your hump.

    You can take DRCOG (www.drcog.org) just to keep up your skills for taking written tests. A lot of the departments on the list don't even use the list anymore. Another great thing to do is to take the CPAT (Candidate Physical Ability Test). You can go to www.parkerfire.org to get the info. South Metro & some others require you to pass the CPAT to get on their list. South Metro will be hiring, but you have to have a CPAT cert. or be taking the CPAT on May 22 or 29th to apply.

    If you really want to do this, be 110% committed and learn as much as you can. Talk to FF's, try to do ride-alongs.

    For Denver, you can go in and take their test. You don't have to have your EMT-B cert. I would recommend it, though. It shows people that you really do want to do this job and understand the importance of EMS in the fire service.

    Good luck in your pursuit of becoming a FF. It may get frustrating, but if you really want to do it, you will.

  6. #6
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    Talking Hi newbie

    Don't listen to little man eric about his opinion on the Red Rocks Fire Academy. I am one of the instructors there and we usually weed out the weak like him. Now with that being said, Red Rocks runs a pretty good show. No its not as rigorous or as long as a "PROFESSIONAL" Academy, but the instructors are all top notch firefighter from around the State. Also the physical requirement for the academy is extremely demanding and WILL assist you in the fitness testing portion of the hiring process. The academy is not a grantee for getting on the job, but part of the program is to do ride alongs w/ paid depts. Where you will gain valuable info during your testing adventure. Red Rocks Community College also offers Fire Science courses that are designed to assist candidates in the testing process, i.e. job placement, physical ability, psychological, etc. A final note about the Red Rocks Fire Academy: The academy is a lot harder then any volunteer fire academy. Most volly depts. need the personnel, so they get everyone through the process, were we eat the weak. Keep in mind that it is only a Firefighter I academy. You only have one day class and one day drill ground a week. However the standards are the same, making it harder on yourself, making you better.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Hi newbie

    Originally posted by Trucker1028
    Don't listen to little man eric about his opinion on the Red Rocks Fire Academy. I am one of the instructors there and we usually weed out the weak like him. Now with that being said, Red Rocks runs a pretty good show. No its not as rigorous or as long as a "PROFESSIONAL" Academy, but the instructors are all top notch firefighter from around the State. Also the physical requirement for the academy is extremely demanding and WILL assist you in the fitness testing portion of the hiring process. The academy is not a grantee for getting on the job, but part of the program is to do ride alongs w/ paid depts. Where you will gain valuable info during your testing adventure. Red Rocks Community College also offers Fire Science courses that are designed to assist candidates in the testing process, i.e. job placement, physical ability, psychological, etc. A final note about the Red Rocks Fire Academy: The academy is a lot harder then any volunteer fire academy. Most volly depts. need the personnel, so they get everyone through the process, were we eat the weak. Keep in mind that it is only a Firefighter I academy. You only have one day class and one day drill ground a week. However the standards are the same, making it harder on yourself, making you better.
    Maybe you need to read the post again, slowly this time. I said that the difficulty was somewhere between a pro academy and a vollie academy. Also, as far as weeding me out, good luck. We started at 50 in my class and 18 finished and I finished #1, so you didn't weed me out.

    Eric

  8. #8
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    Default Your words not mine

    You are posting a reply to someone who is asking advise on getting on the job, and your words were that "RED ROCKS SUCKS". For you to say that you had an academy of 50, and only 18 graduated should tell you something right there as to the expectations of Red Rocks Fire
    Academy. if you did make it through, then good for you. You accomplished something that 50% of the students cannot. As to graduating #1 I question that, by you bagging on the program. I think most recruits that accomplish the Top Recruit spot say the academy taught them a lot. As to comparing the Red Rocks Fire Academy to your paid academy, I would sure hope that your pro academy was better, or else I would be talking to the instructors. To compare Red Rocks to a Pro academy is comparing apples and oranges. Red Rocks Fire Academy can only meet two days a week. As to me reading your post slower, I read everything slow, thanks a lot, Ha Ha. Anyway I guess all I would ask is that you consider what you post and who could be reading it, and second give newbie GOOD advise, and if you did graduate one in your class, it must have helped you somewhat, or, you are one of those that already knows it all. If thatís the case you still have a lot to learn.
    Last edited by Trucker1028; 06-07-2004 at 07:50 PM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Your words not mine

    Originally posted by Trucker1028
    You are posting a reply to someone who is asking advise on getting on the job, and your words were that "RED ROCKS SUCKS". For you to say that you had an academy of 50, and only 18 graduated should tell you something right there as to the expectations of Red Rocks Fire
    Academy. if you did make it through, then good for you. You accomplished something that 50% of the students cannot. As to graduating #1 I question that, by you bagging on the program. I think most recruits that accomplish the Top Recruit spot say the academy taught them a lot. As to comparing the Red Rocks Fire Academy to your paid academy, I would sure hope that your pro academy was better, or else I would be talking to the instructors. To compare Red Rocks to a Pro academy is comparing apples and oranges. Red Rocks Fire Academy can only meet two days a week. As to me reading your post slower, I read everything slow, thanks a lot, Ha Ha. Anyway I guess all I would ask is that you consider what you post and who could be reading it, and second give newbie GOOD advise, and if you did graduate one in your class, it must have helped you somewhat, or, you are one of those that already knows it all. If thatís the case you still have a lot to learn.
    Ok, I can agree that I might have gone a bit far by saying that it sucked. Truth is, you can learn a lot by attending red rocks. I guess I just thought that there were some inconsistencies in the instructors. As good as there intentions were, being from different departments with different SOPs, the instruction was not as uniform as I would like. Having a year of experience on a fire dept before starting the academy helped to prepare me and my buddies were doing to vollie academy at the same time, so I got to practice a lot. Question it if you'd like, I finished with 95% average on the tests by studying my *** of. I know that book through and through.

    Advice taken.

    I still have about 35 more years of learning ahead of me, so I don't know it all. I was the most motivated of all of my classmates, which meant that everything had to slow down to accomodate them, and that dissapointed me, because I wanted to do more. I had my knots down by week 2, but we were still doing them on week 5 because some guys didn't. That means less burning, which dissapointed me, because it could have been different if the other guys did their homework.

    Eric

  10. #10
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    Thumbs up Thanks

    That is a "MORE BETTER", explanation. Yes there is some inconstancies, due to the dynamics of the instructors. We have made some improvements, and probable after your academy. So newbie now that eric and a have work out our bickering, Red Rocks isn't a bad place to get your foot in the door and get some experience. Thanks EricCSU

  11. #11
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    Default more questions

    I'm just in the beginning stages of learning about what it takes to become a firefighter in Colorado /Denver/Boulder Area.

    Actually I have a 14yr old- 8th/9th grader. This is a unique situation - we homeschool part time/attend public school part time. Athletic, great health, Great grades, can graduate early etc.

    In the homeschool/high school world things are very different than traditional school. A homeschooler can create the type of education suited for what career they want to go into. He can start taking college classes as soon as next year at some schools and I'm just looking for ideas on how to better his chances of a career as a fire fighter or something else in emergency management or the like. I know he has alot of time still, but we want to optimize on the flexibility of homeschooling.

    Aside from his EMT what other things can you all suggest? If you could go back in time and knew you would go into this career, and had that flexibility what would you do?

    I'm not interested in hearing from people about their negative opinions about homeschooling - we've got all our bases covered - from socializing to competitive sports to proper academics.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by learncprnow View Post
    I'm just in the beginning stages of learning about what it takes to become a firefighter in Colorado /Denver/Boulder Area.

    Actually I have a 14yr old- 8th/9th grader. This is a unique situation - we homeschool part time/attend public school part time. Athletic, great health, Great grades, can graduate early etc.

    In the homeschool/high school world things are very different than traditional school. A homeschooler can create the type of education suited for what career they want to go into. He can start taking college classes as soon as next year at some schools and I'm just looking for ideas on how to better his chances of a career as a fire fighter or something else in emergency management or the like. I know he has alot of time still, but we want to optimize on the flexibility of homeschooling.

    Aside from his EMT what other things can you all suggest? If you could go back in time and knew you would go into this career, and had that flexibility what would you do?

    I'm not interested in hearing from people about their negative opinions about homeschooling - we've got all our bases covered - from socializing to competitive sports to proper academics.
    I would start looking at some explorer programs in your area. That seems like the best and most logical step. I think Denver FD has one, but it might be suspended with the economy in the tank. Don't know about the other areas you mentioned. Good luck!

  13. #13
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    Last edited by ColoradoDave; 02-13-2013 at 01:09 PM.

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