1. #1
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2004

    Default hi i've got a ? about becoming a firefigher

    Hi, I am 19 years old and currently attending Western Illinois University. My question is have been seriously considering a career in firefighting but i dont really know the first step to becoming one. There are no classes here i can take that are firefighting related. what should i do? should i stay in school and graduate studying stuff i am really not interested in and get a degree that wont really help me get a firefighting job, should i trasnfer to a community college where i live that has fire sciences classes that i could take, or should i go to paramedic school. Any other suggestions or adive would be very helpful.

  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    salem, va usa


    Interesting question you bring up. First off, I am a college student graduating in two weeks and applying to fire departments all along the East Coast. If you really have no interest in any of the majors at your current school, then yes transfer. It does not necessarily have to be for a fire science program though. I am graduating with a business degree. A lot of departments just want to see that you had the drive to finish up school or however you would like to see that. Any degree is better than no degree in most instances. If you have a strong desire to be a medic, then yes go get your medic and you'll get a job much quicker than most of anyone else applying for firefighter/emt positions. If medic school is what you really want, transfer and go for it. If not, then you'll have to seriously consider what you want to study. Again though, it does not have to be something directly related to the fire service. Good luck. Remember, I am just 21, so I'm sure some more experienced members on here will be able to help you out a little more, but from what I've gone through I think this will help you out a lot. Good luck.

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Aug 2003


    Here is my advise to you. I have been an EMT/Firefighter for 7 years now working for a combination (career suplimented with paid-on call personnel) departme for most of that time. The training and schooling that I have received has all (excluding degree courses) been paid for by the department. I started when I was 19 with a paid-on call department and that is my advise to you. Stay in school and get a degree in Human resource managemen or buisness or something similar. While in college look to see if there are any volunteer fire departments or paid-on-call departments in your area that you can join. The experience that you will gain will help you find a job in the future.

  4. #4
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    San Francisco Bay Area

    Default How? Where?

    Remember, You're Just a Rookie

    We have enough chiefs. We need more indians.

    I believe in education. If you want to get a Public Administration, Engineering or any other degree as a career track, great. Donít think it will be the key to get you into the fire service.

    Iíve coached several candidates who have had B.S./BA degrees in Public Administration areas. They have been misguided by counselors that said this would be an asset to get into the fire service. What ends up happening is these candidates show up at an entry-level oral board boasting about their degree. What they donít understand is not many on the other side of the oral board table have this degree. And most of these candidates will never have a chance to use it in the fire service. Can you get hired going the education route? Sure. It happens all the time. But how long can you tread water? Where are you going to get more bang for your buck?

    An associate sent me this information from a fire officer who instructs Fire Protection and Fire Management programs at California State University Los Angeles. With the subject of wanna-bees desiring to get their BA/BS degrees confirmed what you and I already know about candidates in interviews showing up with BA/BS degrees. And that is they get either laughed out of the room or the interview panel becomes resentful and down goes the interview score! DUH!

    This from a SF candidate: I'm currently on the SFFD H-2 list "4th Generation hopefully SFFD"! I'm also a volunteer firefighter/EMT. My volunteer Fire department requires Paramedic certifications for entry-level firefighters. After graduating from a four year university... I had an administration internship with my volunteer department where I wrote and designed the District's Master Plan and preformed statistical analysis for "time respond" for Fire suppression and medical calls. I also went on ride alongs with the engine, truck and even with the chief himself. I was told by the chief if I went out to get my paramedic license... I would be hired on the spot. Becoming a paramedic is not my cup of tea... it's been beaten in my head as a child "from my grandfather and father" to be a firefighter not a medic... ! All of the paid firefighters like my work ethic and all say they should let me in as a Firefighter/EMT.

    My reply: With all due respect to your family members, the playing field has changed. It must be killing you to see these guys hired and it's not you. Like it or not, understand that 75%+ of calls are medical in nature. Eighty percent of the job offerings are for fire medics. Had you gone to medic school as I encourage candidates to do, gained the valuable in service medic street time, you wouldn't be trying to fight your way into a department as an EMT. You would be wearing the H-3 badge for SFFD (I'm 3rd generation San Franciscan myself) or another department.

    John came in for a coaching session after not being able to pass any oral boards. He was one of those candidates who I think was misguided into a Public Administration Degree. During his coaching, he kept trying to come back to his degree. I finally told him, "Who cares Rookie! You want to come into my oral board and try to hammer me with a degree you may never use?" Youíre applying for a snotty nose rookie position as a firefighter!" John dropped his head and said, "Maybe thatís why I canít get through any orals."

    John ended up going to paramedic school (which he should have already done instead of the B/A degree). Although he mentioned the B/A degree in his oral board answer "What have you done to prepare for this position" he focused on his personal life and paramedic experience. He got his badge!

    I look for the shortest distance to the badge. If I were starting out, I would run to paramedic school. Yes, you can get on without it. I know candidates all the time who get a badge without being a medic. But for the time spent and with more than 80% of job offerings being fire/medic, the odds are better.

    Many departments have educational incentive programs where they will pay you to go to school. I took advantage of this program and received an additional 5% pay. This 5% was included in my retirement.

    As Steve Prziborowski, Fire Captain - Santa Clara County Fire Department wrote:

    Do what you have to do be more marketable so you can take more tests and have something more to offer a department, but remember that it all comes down to that 15 to 30 minute oral interview. I've seen some awesome candidates with resumes packed full of accomplishments that couldn't sell them self in an interview to even make the top 50%.

    You can find out more on this topic from this previous posting:

    ďNothing counts Ďtil you have the badge . . . Nothing!Ē

    Fire "Captain Bob"


  5. #5
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Mar 2004


    see if you can join the local, vollie fire dept,, that will get you started.. and they might be able to pay for your Fire Fighter I tranning.

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber
    F18Wub's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    NW Chicago


    Since you are at WIU, I can offer a few suggestions.

    Go take the EMT class that is offered in the Health Services department. Go work for MDH or WIU EMS to get some experience. Look for the class LEJA 310, Fire Protection, might help. Speak with Mr. Bytner is LEJA dept, he will be able to give you some pointers.
    IACOJ, Flatlander Division

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