1. #1
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    Default Question about getting hired at big city fire departments

    From what I can tell it seems that the most desirable jobs are in suburban areas as far as city fire departments go. I'm not sure if this is just in my area (Northern California) or if this is true everywhere. If this is the case than I was thinking that it would be easiest to get my first job in a big city as going by my reasoning they have more positions and the job is less desirable than a similar job outside the big city. Anyways I'd appreciate any feedback on this. Thanks

  2. #2
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    Ive tested for over a dozen depts. (some more than once). In my experience its all relative. There seems to always be dozens and dozens more test than there are openings.

    I live near Chicago..If Im not mistaken the last time they tested there were over 20,000 applicants. Theyfilled the United Center.

    I tested for St. Louis last year. They had so many apps each portion of the test was held over several days.

    When I tested for the dept. Im on know, there were only 15 openings and over 500 took the test. I was one of the lucky 15.

    No matter where you go its always competative. Im sure there may be a few depts out there where somone was able to just 'walk on', but Im pretty sure its very very rare.

    The best advice I was given and it still seems to be sound advice....

    Test anywhere and everywhere. No one said you have to take the first job thats offered to you and no one says if you do take it,you have to keep it if your dream job comes along.

    fieldseng2

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    Actually, I found it to be the opposite- I had to work in the suburbs for 4 years before I got on at the "Big City."

    Best move I ever made. Sure, some of the suburbs make more money, and have better stations and equipment, but I joined up because I wanted to be a fireman, not because I wanted a big paycheck and fancy equipment. I may not make as much as some of my friends at other departments (although I still make good money), but I see more fire in a couple of weeks than they will all year. In my mind, that's what makes the bigger cities a better place to work.

    My advice: go for the big city job.

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    Best move I ever made. Sure, some of the suburbs make more money, and have better stations and equipment, but I joined up because I wanted to be a fireman, not because I wanted a big paycheck and fancy equipment. I may not make as much as some of my friends at other departments (although I still make good money), but I see more fire in a couple of weeks than they will all year. In my mind, that's what makes the bigger cities a better place to work.

    My advice: go for the big city job. [/B][/QUOTE]


    AMEN to that brother

  5. #5
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    Im still waiting for the big city dept. (my dream job) to start hiring! Its been over a year since I placed on the list..they are almost 100 FFs short, but they have yet to hire anyone!

    I'm currently on a small department. The pay is better than some, but not as good as others. In fact...If/when this big city dept hires me it will only be a $1,000 pay cut for the first year! And Ive been where Im at now for almost 12 years!

    It's not just the better pay Im going for..I love the big city dept. atmosphere and tradition! I know Ill get there...the waiting just sucks!...lol

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    I can't speak for Northern California but in most places I know of (midwest, East Coast)... It is the other way around from your description.

    For example I worked in a small town in college(pop. 35,000) and volunteered in the rural area outside of town(pop. not many) and and then a suburb(pop. 110,000) for years before getting on in a big city(pop. 8,000,000). In fact I filed for the big city and the suburban FD at the SAME time. I was hired for the suburb in 3 months, whereas I had to wait just over 4 YEARS for the big city to call.

    Not all Suburban FDs are created equal. Where I worked in a suburb other local depts, varried in size, pay, atmosphere, promotional process, firefighting operations.

    A few like mine were larger with some slower and some busier houses...other depts had only 1-3 firehouses with the same atmosphere and runs.

    Some were agressive and were well skilled in actual interior FFing. Others had really nice looking rigs, gear, bells & whistles but would look for every excuse to not do their jobs(go inside). They performed poorly and would be an embarasing dept to be a member of.

    Some had a large and varried ecconomic tax base with many types of neighborhoods, High-Rises, PDs, Heavy Industry, Apartments, Slums, Luxury home subdivisions...etc. Others were mainly just bedroom communties with little room to grow and little chance of great increases in tax revenue (thus $$$ in your pocket)

    Another difference you will note between small and larger city FDs is that the larger will have a greater potential for promotion as there are more spots to fill and an steady turnover of personell. Whereas a small dept might only have 3 Batt Chief spots and you have to wait for someone to retire or die to have a chance to promote.

    There are also a greater range of career oportunitites in a larger dept. For example here are some of the opportunties in larger depts that you might not find in smaller depts.... Engine and/or Truck Cos. Rescue Co's, Marine Divisions, Training divisions, accademy, R&D, Special projects...etc.

    Honestly the Big Cities are the most difficult to get on and the most competitive. I was testing in pools of 20 to 300 to 15,000. For example I know Boston is by far one of the most difficult to get hired on at. Despite being hiring a number of guys every year, there are many trying for those limmited spots.

    If I were you I would visit the depts you are interested in getting hired on. Investigate them, talk to the guys, look at the entire pay chart, not just the starting pay...ect. Do they have union protections, what is the retirement like, are promotions handled like patronage or are they based on merit and fitness for the spot...etc.

    Best of Luck.

    FTM-PTB

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    Default Me too...

    Rick- I live in Nor. Cal too and I have to tell you testing
    in Cali. is very different vs. the other parts of the US.

    First, You should consider getting your EMT, then some
    field experience (AMR ambulance). I would then highly
    recommend looking into Paramedic school- Northern California
    Training Institute. (NCTI)

    Lastly- start looking at these websites asap-

    www.firecareers.com
    www.eatstress.com

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