1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jun 2004

    Default Question about moving around, lifestyle, etc.

    I'm currently 19 years old and seriously considering a career in the Firefighting / EMS field. Since it is so hard to get hired at many places I am looking into moving at some point to a new area to work as either a firefighter or an EMT to start out. I also realize that I may either need to (to find a better job such as going from an EMT to a firefighter) or want to move again (to a nicer area) after I make my first move to a new area. The first time that I moved in my life was when I moved to college last year 2 hours from my hometown. Because of this the idea of moving around to other areas, most likely outside my home state of California, is exciting but makes me nervous at the same time as I wouldn't know anyone and I would have to adjust to the area while working or going through training. I was just hoping to get some comments on this from people who have been in the situation before me and how you handled it, what you thought of it both before going and after, was it easy to adjust, etc. Thanks in advance for any replies!

  2. #2
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2004


    I worked for the US Forest Service which included alot of travel (as a firefighter with the Fed wildland agencies you tend to follow the fires around the country). While trying to get picked up permanent and for promotional opportunites I moved several times from state to state. Your discription of moving particularly the first time sounds like my experience, exciting and scary. When I took my first permanent job with the USFS, I packed as much as I could into my pick up truck, put the rest into storage in my parents basement and drove off 1300 miles to start a new job in a place I'd never heard of before I applied for the job.

    A couple of things to consider, places are differant, cultures are differant (A Californian conservative is several steps to the left of many states liberals), things you take for granted may be unknown (Mention PG&E or Caltrans in other states and you'll get a blank stare) , the fire service is a little differant state to state, coast to coast, also certs may not transfer.

    (for non-Caifornian's PG&E is one of the major utility companies in the state and Caltrans is the state road department).

    My experience with moving around was mostly positive but be aware that it is often the little things that will get to you, when you are down you probably won't have the support of family and close friends to keep you going, a phone call home isn't the same as having Thanksgiving with the family etc. On the plus side there is plenty to do on your days off since everything is new. It is also easy to get "stuck" as you start to settle in, meet new people, start to build time in the department, maybe buy a house. Not a problem if you decide to stay but if you really want to be someplace else...

    Since you are young you might consider a seasonal job with the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management or National Park Service, most have housing for seasonal employees and spend a lot of time chasing fires around the country. This could give you a taste of life on the road, maybe try to get hired by one of these agencies in a part of the country you are interested in to see if the area meets your expectations, if not it is just for the summer and will usually give you a foot in the door for a position in the agency closer to home the next season. These agencies are also great for experience since you will likely see more fire in a summer or two than some firefighters see in a career.

    Good Luck
    Last edited by NonSurfinCaFF; 10-06-2004 at 11:03 PM.

  3. #3
    Forum Member
    Dave1983's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Gator Country


    While I didnt have to move when I started in the fire service and cant speak to that, may I suggest you do some careful research. Try and find an area of the country that is growing fast. An area like here in west central FLA.

    The poluplation continues to grow and with it so do jobs in fire/EMS. I'm sure there are other areas of the country that are showing the same type of growth.

    There is a nation wide shortage of paramedics, so perhaps you should consider getting that certification as well.


  4. #4
    Forum Member
    SafetyPro's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Santa Cruz, CA


    Well, I can't speak from personal experience as I've lived in the same 5 square mile area my whole life. My wife, however, has moved several times in her life (from central Indiana to southern Indiana for college, then to Virginia for grad school, then out here to before we got married), so I can share some things I've learned through her.

    1) Knowing someone in the area is definitely an advantage. Even if its an old friend or distant relative you haven't seen in many years, its a connection that can make things a bit less scary.

    2) Try to learn the essentials of the new area quickly, but don't get bogged down trying to learn where everything is. The quicker you can make the new area feel like home by finding some restaurants you like, the places you'll shop, recreational areas, etc. the more comfortable you'll be. Then you can spend some time finding the out-of-the-way places.

    3) If you're religious, find a church you like quickly, even if you're not going to attend regularly. Its a great support network.

    4) Be prepared for culture shock. Your favorite restaurant may not exist. The pace of life may be much different. People will drive differently. People will talk differently, using different terminologies. Some "personalities" may seem strange and unfriendly at first, but you'll quickly learn that most of this is due to just being different and that people are people regardless of where they are.

    5) Prepare to be lonely and homesick. It will take time to make new friends, so unfortunately, you will have some nights where you second guess what you've done. Push through it. Assuming you make the effort, you will make new friends and the new area will gradually feel more and more like home.

    Good luck to you, and hope this helps.
    Chris Gaylord
    Emergency Planner / Fire Captain, UC Santa Cruz FD

  5. #5
    former FH.com member

    Join Date
    Dec 2003

    Thumbs up

    SafetyPro is right on the money here. Especially the culture shock. I moved from a Boston suburb to south Texas, it was like moving to a different planet. Keep an open mind and a sense of humor and you'll do fine. A change of scenery might be the best thing you ever do for yourself.

    (Oh yeah 1 more thing....make sure you have some kind of job waiting for you, not necessarily firefighting, BEFORE you relocate. You dont want to have to turn around and go right back home because your savings ran out.)
    Last edited by SAFD46Truck; 10-08-2004 at 12:58 PM.

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    May 1999
    Here, There, Everywhere


    I moved from a large midwestern city to NYC. Talk about change. But it was the greatest move I ever made.

    For me the adjustment was easy because I had no time to even think about the move with the 3 months of Academy.

    I also know of a number of guys who moved from California to Places in Denver, Kansas City, St. Louis and Indianapolis for the same reasons you state...hard to find a FF job on the Left Coast.

    Just make sure you visit a place enough times to make sure you will like the work environment and also make sure you are prepared to deal with the cold and winter. I know that took alot of California guys time to deal with.

    Overall, Just find a place you want to go and get hired and go. Don't think twice, because you will always question yourself....what if???

    Best of Luck,


  7. #7
    FH Mag/.com Contributor

    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Cypress, TX


    Like SAFD, I relocated from up a Philadelphia suburb to Texas (Houston). Big culture shock. People use turn signals and other people even let them change lanes.

    It wasn't for firefighting (software developer), but relocation is the same no matter what. Have the job lined up first so that there is some sense of security. Like Dave said, pick a growing area so that you won't get hired and then let go when they decide to scale back.

    Houston FD is supposedly going to have close to 2000 FFs eligible for retirement in the next 2 years. Many that I know are taking their pension and running. Either way, they have started lots of academy classes. The only thing that might hurt you is that I believe they still have the 60 college credit requirement, which is why so many attend an area community college's fire academy first, then end up in HFD's fast track program. Kind of an odd requirement if you ask me. Technically someone with 10 years on the job and a set of IFSAC certs couldn't get hired without college credits. One year of active military duty is the alternative requirement for that. Texas has their own FF certifications, so if you come in with IFSAC, you can apply to TCFP for theirs. Definitely The People's Republic of Texas, but with affordable, quality housing in nice areas and no state income tax, I ain't moving out anytime soon.

    Here's their web site: http://www.ci.houston.tx.us/hfd/index.html

  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber
    NorcalMike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Red voter in a Blue State


    Why would you want to leave Calleeyfornyahh anyway. We got the best governer and I can't remember the last time we had a hurricane. Or a volcanic eruption.

    The job market in California is pretty good right now. My dept has hired about 100 people in the last four years and probably will hire another 100 in the next five years.

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