This from my Captain son Rob:

We have all heard the standard oral board question. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” You answer that you hope to have completed you doctorate, found a cure for leprosy, re-painted the ceiling in the Sistine chapel, and work for their department.

But where do you really see yourself in five years? Working for a fire department somewhere, I am sure. But how are you going to get there? Do you have a plan? You would not start a drive to Detroit without a road map, and you need one for your future too.

Having a plan or goals established will help you in a few ways. First, it will help you know which direction to head. Second, as you complete things and cross them off you can see yourself making progress. Lastly, it helps you see that the things you are doing are not just a waste of time. There is a reason.

Obviously we all know that you need to have education. E.M.T. cert., firefighter I cert., and often a paramedic are a must. You should have some additional things to help you look good on paper.

I would recommend getting you E.M.T. cert first. In order to get into most medic schools you have to have experience. That way you could be going through you firefighter I classes while working as an E.M.T. and start medic school after you are done. If you cannot get an ambulance job as an E.M.T. you could try a hospital E.R., working at concerts, or even doing transports in a chair van. The point is to get the experience to get into school, not look cool. Volunteering as an E.M.T. is also a great way to gain experience, and it can be a lot of fun. I volunteered at rock concerts, drag races, and the county fair at the horse races. Having never done drugs, working at Grateful Dead shows helped me in identifying people under the influence and telling what drugs they were on.

You should get your firefighter I cert, but not worry about getting an A.A. until you have everything else done. You would rather have a medic cert than an A.A. any day.

It is hard to get into medic schools in some parts of the U.S., and in others they are looking for people to apply. If you have problems getting in, look outside your area, just make sure if you go out of state you can make it work for the departments you are testing for. Apply at lots of schools to increase your chances. After the didactic, or classroom, part of medic school, you spend some time in an emergency room, and then on an ambulance. This seems to be the bottleneck for most people and there can be a long wait. Having connections at a hospital, or on the ambulance can help speed it up, as well as being the squeaky wheel.

If you can swing it, you do not want to have to be working full time and going through medic school at the same time. Put away as much money as you can, borrow money from your parents grandparents or other realtives, what ever you have to do. It is hard getting through this by itself; working on top of it would be a stretch, both mentally and physically.

As you get qualifications, you want to get as much experience as possible. If you live in an area that has a firefighter reserve or volunteer program, do it. If you need to, move somewhere that has one. Not only is it easier to get a job when you are already doing it, but you should try and become familiar with the culture of the fire service. The way we talk, kid around, and do our jobs are unique, both to the fire service and from department to department.

Lastly, do volunteer work of any kind. If you are interested in doing volunteer work it is not hard to find. Habitat for humanity is always looking for someone to pound nails This would also give you a working knowledge of building construction. Meals on wheels is looking for people to deliver food to shut-ins Doing this in the area you are applying for would give you a knowledge of the streets and show you are already a member of the community. While I would not suggest you volunteer just to have something nice to say in an interview, the people who need the help would not care why your doing it, they just need people.

There is no way that things will work out the way you plan. You may end up doing everything backwards. It does not matter. You just need to have a plan. You should re-do you plan every six months, to see where you are, and further define where you are going. Keep it on you fridge, or the bathroom mirror, so you can see it every day.

While you are doing this, take every test you qualify for. Even if you do not want to work there, or cannot make the whole test, you need to get good at testing. If you read this board much, you know how to get good at it. Then maybe you will be lucky and get hired before you have done all this stuff and your department will pay you to do the rest of it.

Good Luck, Capt Rob
707 869 1330


As I reread Rob's posting I realized this was the plan he used to get hired. The week he was to apply at Daniel Freeman he got the call. I was honored to pin his badge 19 years to the week I received mine. You can check out the picture here:

Captain Bob