1. #1
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    Exclamation Air Force Firefighting?

    Hi All,

    I am trying to break into firefighting for my career and have been weighing the options of going into the Airforce as a firefighter or rather just test and test and test for different fire departments outside of the military. I have been told that the military can provide me with all of my certifications including my paramedic which will help me get on a dept when I get out of the force. I would appreciate any feedback regarding this. Thanks!!

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    Rob,

    I myself spent 5 years active duty, just got out a little over a year ago. This is a great idea if your ultimate goal is to become a paid firefighter. Military firefighting will most certainly get you the training and education you will need to get the upper hand. However, there is this little thing called "experience" that is very hard to come by active duty. Quite frankly, there just aren't many fires on military installations due to the strict fire codes. I was stationed at Offutt AFB Ne, and we averaged about 1-2 structure fires a year. Yeah, thats it. And Offutt is a big base. (17,000 people)
    I will tell you this - be prepared to deploy to the middle east. I don't care what the recruiter says - you WILL deploy. Period. I went three times in the 5 years. And my particular squadron has been twice since then. In fact, they're in Iraq right now. DO NOT beleive the recruiter, you WILL BE DEPLOYED. It's just a matter of when.
    Also, when you talk to the recruiter, make sure you get guaranteed firefighting. Make sure it is in writing. This is a trick recruiters use, they promise you can sign up when you get to basic training. But the reality of it is when you get there they "mysteriously" have no positions open. Therefore you end up being stuck in Security Forces or a cook or something along that line. Make damn sure you get it in writing before you officially sign the paperwork.

    Good luck with everything. Let me know if you have any more questions.

    Mike

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    You will get a lot of certifications as an AF firefighter, but I wouldn't count on paramedic. Most AF firefighters I know are either CFR or EMT-B. Although many AF fire departments will first respond to medical calls, ambulances are run out of the base hospital/clinic and staffed by their people (or contractors like AMR).
    As Mike said, be prepared to deploy. As more and more firefighting jobs are filled with DoD civilians, the pool of deployable military gets smaller, while the deployment requirement stays the same. And make sure you get firefighter in writing. The AF is overmanned (well, based on congressionally authorized end strength) and they are cutting down on recruiting and trying to fill jobs like security forces over other career fields.

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    I also had a few questions regarding AF firefighting. Is it possible to be in the fire program in the reserves? If you were deployed would you be there for fire protection or would you be doing something else? The recruiters for the military have been calling a lot so just recently I've been giving this some thought.

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    I can't speak for the Guard or Reserve, only active duty. I do know that they have firefighting in the same capacity as active duty, but they have to have an actual position open before you even be recruited.
    Have you tried "www.goodfellow.af.mil"? I'm not sure if they have a link to the fire academy or not, but if nothing else you'll get a taste of where your tech school will be. (good time)
    And remember, GET IT IN WRITING!

    Mike

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    EKU

    Absolutely you will be deployed as a firefighter. While deployed, your main job is basically fire prevention. Takes up about 80% of your time. Some of the time is spent on medical calls, which you will first respond. But keep in mind, most of the deployed personnel are in good shape and fairly young, so there really aren't many medical calls in the desert. Maybe one every four days, or at least that was the average at the bases I was at. My last deployment was six months in duration, and we had two fires. One was an engine fire on a KC -135, and the other was a vehicle fire. (wasn't even American)
    One thing I can tell you for sure, fireman have about the best living conditions on base when you are deployed. We always seemed to "aquire" stuff, like TV's and couches and whatnot. (couches may seem a little lame right now, but wait until you have to sit your ***** on a wooden bench for six months)
    Any more questions just ask.


    Mike

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    Thanks to everyone who replied! You all gave me alot to think about. I just had a couple more questions. For anyone who has gone the route of going through the AF I was wondering how easy/hard it was to get on a dept after you got out of the AF? Also, if my dream is to be a paid firefighter in a big city would you go through the AF or test for a few years and work other jobs till then. Thanks Again!!!

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    I would absolutely do it over again. Not only do you get to have a TON of fun, but you learn a lot, make a tremendous amount of friends, see the world and put a little money in your pocket as well. Also - and this may not mean much to you now, but you will go in a boy and come out a man.
    And yes, it does help when you apply for a full time dept. I got my paramedic first, so with my certifications, my veterans preferance and the fact that I'm a medic I really had no problem at all finding a career dept. If you want to get into EMS as well, then I would highly recommend getting your medic either while active duty or soon after. This will absolutely put you at the top of the hiring list, if the dept is fire and EMS.

    Mike

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    I am in the Air Force National Guard in Syracuse NY. I am also a paid firefighter for a city in upstate ny. Going in the guard is a good thing to consider. I was active duty army first. You can get more expeirience as a volunteer if you are in the right area. Many vollies are very busy. Like Plattsfire2 said, there is not much going on for fires on a military instillation. Here in NY the state requires all paid firefighters to have 229 hours of specific training and pass the CPAT(physical agilty test). The training you get in the military can get you reciprocity for the 229 in NY. All you have to do is take the CPAT. This can help you get a job because the fire dept. you are trying to get hired on will save money by not having to send you away for 10 weeks at the state fire academy. This may be an opption in your state. Check with the nearest guard or reserve base and with the state academy if there is one. If you have any questions about the guard I can try to answer them. (Where is spell check?)

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    My ultimate goal is to get on FDNY or another large city fire department and my thoughts were that they might look upon military experience as a firefighter very positivly. I am only 23 and have my degree and it looks like from what everyone is saying that going into the AF or the guard are some of my best options. I know I could go in as an officer but that wouldnt really help me for my career afterwards as much as going in as a firefighter. Also, how much of a danger is it being deployed overseas? Are you constantly in the line of fire or are you safer because you are on the base? Thanks again!

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    Default Something to consider...

    Here is just one thing to consider. If you are currently 23, and you enter the AF now for 4 yrs. you'll be around 27/28 when it's all said and done (depending on when your bday is). Some departments, such as FDNY, have an age limit for applicants. I believe FDNY is something like 27.. please, correct me if I'm wrong!

    **Just my opinion about this.. Personally, I initially had the same thoughts as you.. enter military out of HS or go to college, get experience, and join career. I finally decided to go to college, obtain my EMT/FF1&FF2/HazMat1, and continue training/gaining experience that way. Someone above (I forget who) mentioned that you can get good experience from a busy vol. dept. That is very true! Especially if they are located in a town/city and not out in the rural country/backwoods! To be perfectly honest with you, most larger departments (FDNY, CFD, MDFR, etc.) accept "certified" people as much as "non-certified." No matter what your previous experience is.. in most "Big City" departments you are going to be put through their academy anyways. It doesn't matter if you've been a seasoned veteran somewhere else, or if you're straight off of the street.. you're all going to go through the same academy, and be taught the same things. I know of several departments that prefer applicants to have either military experience *OR* some college hours. Since you said you already had your degree, that WILL HELP YOU GREATLY! Personally, I'd make sure I was in top physical shape, and apply to the department of your choice. I'm not intending to offend anyone with this next comment. It is simply something that I have noticed since I made the decision to pursue my degree/career dept. Keep in mind that I have the utmost respect for our military and everything they do. It is simply in regards to this person's post and wanting to know about experience gained, advantages, etc. In no way am I knocking the experience gained in the AF, in fact I know a great deal can be accomplished while in the AF, however.. here is the observation that you have been waiting for (now that all the disclamers are out of the way!). After asking numerous firefighters what is one thing that they wish they would have done earlier.. if they could go back and do it over.. ALL of them answered "Get a college degree." All of these firefighters are on a "Big City" department... The reason that my observation is relevant is because of the fact that none of them answered "Join the military for the firefighting experience." My advice (AS A NON-MILITARY FF) would be since you already have a college degree.. you already have "one leg up" on the other applicants. I'd get in shape and apply now.. before you possibly age out. I am 100% sure that any military experience would help you in the academy, life, etc. but it isn't going to make you a garuntee in these departments. Like I said earlier.. not matter what your experience is.. I've seen first timers get onto big departments, military FFs get on, and other career "vets" get on.. but one thing is standard, they all start from the bottom and work their way up. It doesn't matter what your previous experience/training taught you, you'll be taught to do things their way.

    That's just my advice.. I went through the same dilemma, and never reget the decision I've made! Especially since a few of my friends joined the mil. after HS... USMC and AF.. Both have already been deployed to Iraq, and my buddy in the USMC is getting ready for his THIRD time over there since this started! Might I add, that's 3 times in 3 YEARS! Believe those who've been in the military that said, "You will be deployed!"

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    Hello All:

    I too, am considering joining the USAF in the Summer of 2008. My main objective for joining the service to grow from being a boy to becoming a man. That, in and of itself, will make me a better Firefighter. I took the ASVAB my sophomore, and I got a 69, so getting the job shouldn't be a problem, although I am going down there with my AFJROTC Instructor (A retired Full-bird Colonel), to see if we can work it a little.
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    Wow..little bit more than a month would have made this thread 3 years old!
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    DOH! I didn't even notice that..... I guess it beats starting a new thread eh?
    All Gave Some. Some Gave All.
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    God Bless the Charleston 9. Godspeed Brothers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDExplorer View Post
    DOH! I didn't even notice that..... I guess it beats starting a new thread eh?
    There are a couple similar threads in the Federal/Military FF link also which can answer some questions.

    I was Navy DC, firefighter, and if you are looking to grow up and gain responsibity etc, then any branch of the service would work for you. Many times the job you do in the service doesn't really matter for the civilian world, but the vet points do. My standard advice on this matter is if you want to join the military to be a firefighter, it really doesn't matter what your job is. Do your time and take advantage of college courses as they are offered. The Navy and Air Force give a better chance for that, but take DANTES and CLEP courses also for credits. Get out and use your GI Bill money to go to college and work on your fire protection degree and certifications then.

    The Air Force likes to tout the certifications stuff, but in reality when you take volunteers and people who went to college looking for the same civilian FF job as an AF FF candidate, all have an equal shot and probably have the same certifications. The volunteer in many cases, may have the most experience fighting fires, but the military member has many appealing qualities. The education is what matters today, not the job you did in the service. Any vet has the same shot of being a FF as a vet who did the job in the service.

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    Quote Originally Posted by robperry View Post
    I am only 23 and have my degree
    This kind of jumped out at me. I did 12 years in the military (6 active/6 reserve).

    If you have a 4 year degree, I wouldn't talk to any recruiter that wasn't an officer.

    The military experience counts the same whether you are officer or enlisted, but officers make more money and have more leadership training.

    Having not been in the Air Force personally, I bet there is the equivalent of a base fire chief at all these fire stations, and it isn't a sergeant. It is going to be an officer. Go in as an officer.

    Again like everyone else said, get it in writing. Get everything in writing, don't sign anything that doesn't say what you expect it to say. If you aren't comfortable with the contract, ask a lawyer to review it. The recruiters will hate that, but it is your right.

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    Yeah kd7fds, I caught that too about being 23 with a degree. Unfortunately he posted that information almost 3 years ago.

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    Sigh,

    I am always late to these discussions.

    Although maybe it will help someone else someday. If you have a real 4 year degree from a real university, don't ever talk to the enlisted recruiters. Do yourself a favor and hold out for the Officer recruiters.

    About 10 years ago, I thought about going back in the military for about a month. I went into the Army recruiting office and asked how I could get hold of the Officer recruitment office. The SSG in the office told me that there was no such thing. It was BS of course, but he was more than happy to try and get my name and phone number and try to explain that you have to join the Army as an enlisted person and apply for OCS after boot camp.

    I laughed so hard that I almost cried. Then I told him that I had already been in the Army (reserves) and knew that he was full of it. He never did give me that number though. Had to get it off the Army's internet website.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kd7fds View Post


    Having not been in the Air Force personally, I bet there is the equivalent of a base fire chief at all these fire stations, and it isn't a sergeant. It is going to be an officer. Go in as an officer.

    I know this is an ancient thread...but...just an FYI. A base fire chief is usually a civilian, but if not, it is a senior NCO, (E8/9).
    No officer types in AF fire protection, at least not in operations anywhere. There may a couple staff types at HQ, but even at that, it wouldn't be much of a career track for an O.

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    Can anyone take me through a typical Air Force Firefighter day ?

    Rob

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    I just talked to a recruiter today about enlisting in the air force and going into the firefighting unit. He said that he cannot guarantee me that I would get into the academy. Is there any truth to this? Or is he just trying to meet his requirements?

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    dont sign up unless they give you what you want! they will say anything to get you in! if you want to be on the firefighting end of it then make sure thats what you get! if you have to try another recruiter? i was in the navy a few yrs ago and i wanted a certain job they said go in undesignated and talk to the career person or what ever it was once i got in boot camp when you go to finalize where ur going after bootcamp well i didnt get inot the rescue swimmer aircrewman job i wanted! i tried the whole time i was in! got nothing but a 4 yr runaround! i enjoyed my time but when i was asked why i was not renlisting i told them i was not getting the job i wanted! lol they said well renlist and they will pursue that i get into the aircrew rescue swimmer school and school for the certain job, i said no thanks. any way dont sign up untill you get it on your contract that you are going in to go to school as a firefighter or how ever the airforce does it? make sure your asvab scores are high enough for the school? if not retake them but do not sign up untill you get what you want!! your recruiting them! that goes for all branches! the military is a good career choice and all but if you want to go in and do a certain job then get that certain job! ok well thats enough said!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by luckynumber7 View Post
    Or is he just trying to meet his requirements?

    Probably trying to ensure that he is enlisting people who want to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States to serve their country and not just to get a certain job. This way the people who are serving their country don't have to do the job that they are required to do and the job of the pouting individual who didn't realize that the military really isn't there to serve them.

    What was it, oh that darn pesky quote....oh yea
    "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."
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    'The fire went out and nobody got hurt' is a poor excuse for a fireground critique.

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    just thought of something else to the airforce has i think they call it pararescue? basicly its a combat medic for the airforce, i think discovery channel did a show on a certain class they were i yhink trained as paramedics? and i hate to say this but if you have your paramedic cert then you get hired on in any fire dept faster then you would just having your emt?
    but thats only if you really want to be a paramedic as well as a firefighter, ive seen way to many crappy medics that just got the medic job to either promote or get hired on and in the field they sucked as medics! just a thought

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    Quote Originally Posted by DocVBFDE14 View Post
    Probably trying to ensure that he is enlisting people who want to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States to serve their country and not just to get a certain job. This way the people who are serving their country don't have to do the job that they are required to do and the job of the pouting individual who didn't realize that the military really isn't there to serve them.

    What was it, oh that darn pesky quote....oh yea
    "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."
    I guess I don't see the point of this post. If the military didn't want you to believe that you could choose a career track in the military then don't offer them. Have people enlist with the idea that you don't get to pick, the military does, based on aptitude testing or need. Otherwise it seems to me that picking a career track and sticking to your guns makes perfect sense to me.

    Sorry if that goes against your grain. Of course everyone is a soldier that enlists and the military has the right in an emergency to use you as needed but why the anger against someone wanting the career track that they choose and was promissed to them?

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