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  1. #1
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    Default AAS degree, or fire academy?

    Hey,
    I'm still deciding what to do training wise (got about a year before I can start), and currently I need to choose -where- to go for it...on one hand there will be a college near where we're moving that has a nice sounding Fire Science course which results in an AAS degree (http://www.scc.spokane.edu/tech/ps/fire/)...but on the other hand there is a fire academy based out of Texas (www.trainingdivision.com) that is appealing as well, and would be a bit more convenient since the book and test portion of the work is online.

    So my question is, would it be better to go for the degree, or to go through a fire academy? Which path would make me more desirable for a job?


  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber Golzy12's Avatar
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    Red face A career in the fire service

    If I were you the first thing I would do is look into the career departments around you that your interested in. check out what they require to to test in their department, if a lot of them offer preference points for an AAS in fire science then get the degree. If they dont require you to have any firefighting education then look into the military and find out what you need to do to get veterans preference points. If the departments require you to have gone through an academy do that. Also If you do an academy in a different state I'd make sure your state offeres reciprocity from the state you would get your certification in. If your state doesnt offer reciprocity then your trainging might be a waste. If you dont go the military route I would join a paid on call department or a voulenteer department, they will most likley pay for your firefighter I and II and whatever other training is required and youll get some great experience.

    If I had to do it all over again I would do the military. Right now I'm only 19 and I'm doing the AAS in fire science and I'm finding in my area serving in the military would have been more benificial when trying to get a firefighting job. That might not be the case for you. Getting a job in the fire service is tough. Today im going to be testing for a department with about 100 other people for 1 or 2 positions. It's extremely competitive, if you decide to become a career firefighter you have to be in it for the long haul it takes the average white male 3 -5 years to get his first job as a full time firefighter. I'm not trying to scare you away from the fire service I'm just trying to show you what your getting in to. I wish when I was 17 someone told me all of this stuff I would have done the military ( I stil might when I get done with my degree, I'm still young).

    Aslo on another sice note you imght want to think about becoming a paramedic. When firefighter /paramedic positions open up not as many people test because less are quaified (maybe 20 people for 1 position instead of 100)

  3. #3
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    Default

    Yeorin- I am in the same boat as you kinda, Im currently taking classes to get my Fire Science degree as well, however I find it doesn't really open too many doors, at least in the interviews I have taken, they like a lot of volunteer hours. So Im going to Florida where there are a lot of jobs open, or so Im told, that way Im doing both.

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    Default Getting Hired

    Yeorin,
    You have one great advantage, you are young and you are finding out that the fire service is the career you wanted to take. Most guys figure this out later in life so you definetly have an advantage. As far as taking the academy route or the AAS in fire service I think it is 50/50. If you get your AAS degree that will include an academy of sorts, at least every AAS degree I have heard of you need to at least obtain your FF1 as part of your degree. The truth is getting a career firefighting job is a tough task and like Golzy12 said it takes the average person pursuing a career in the fire service 3-5 years to get hired. Some tips I would recommend. I would pursue your education and go for your AAS in fire science. While you are doing this I would also try to volunteer at a local department or see if your departments around you have some kind of cadet or junior fire explorer program. This will show your commitment towards the fire service. Most importantly get your EMT-B. This is essential in almost any fire department. I would also see if you can get a part time job working as an EMT on an ambulance or in a hospital setting. Showing that you are dedicated to EMS is essential. I don't care what anyone else says, if you don't like EMS maybe the fire service isn't for you. There are still a select few departments that run just fire but the majority of the country especially everything West of the Mississippi is going to fire based EMS. Showing that you are dedicated to EMS is just as important as getting your fire science degree or fire academy. Just some tips I learned. Also don't get discourged, it sounds like you are still relatively young. Keep in mind that the average age of someone going through an academy is 25 years old. It is very rare for someone under 21 to get hired as a career firefighter. It seems like the majority of the fire service is looking for mature people with life experience that come form different backgrounds. The best of luck to you in your pursuit of a firefighting position. Stay safe.

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    Default

    COFF1126, I'm also a young guy, only 21, so what do you think my chances are at getting a career position for FF? Maybe the interviews I have taken had went against me because of my age? I'm in the same boat as Yeorin almost, Im taking classes for fire science degree and going to be going to an academy, so hopefully my age doesn't play a huge factor after the academy.

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    Default Age a factor?

    ffmano2,
    I don't want to discourge you and make you think that you can't get hired because of your age. I had some friends that got hired right out of high school. I just know that through experience I have noticed that the majority of people getting hired were in their mid-20's. The best advice I can give you is to market yourself in a way that separtes you from the others guys testing. Some people do this by going to Paramedic school others do it by having life experiences that will prepare them for a job in the fire service like joining the military. I am not saying that you have to become a paramedic or join the military I just know that both of these have there advantages in getting a career job. I was lucky I got hired the first place I tested and I was only 22. If you are not having any luck testing with departments really think about what you may do to try to improve your results. The testing comes down to the Oral boards. The best of luck to you in your testing. Stay safe.

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    Default

    Hey all,
    Thanks for the answers! Lotta good input here. And yes I am young actually...I'm turning 18 in a few weeks.

    I think if I can get the cash for it together (getting a minimum wage job to help pay for it), I'm going to go for the AAS while doing vollie work. Their program sounds pretty good, includes both Structural and Wildland fire courses alongside Hazmat, and EMT-B which will be good because I also want to take their Paramedic course since the medic and fire service seem so intertwined and it'll make me more capable.

    ffman02, we may be young but think of it like this: We can learn from the more experienced here, and we can start -trying- for jobs (and training in the meantime) earlier on in life than those who start later

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    COFF1126- I definetly understand what your saying on that one. I seen it when I applied for a FF position and a guy was about 30-31 and had a list of qualifications above and beyond the minimum so I understood that. Not saying I have anything against that because I understand the risks bringing in a young guy compared to an experienced older guy.
    I am definetly not giving up, as I am going to get credentials every way I can. Currently Im working on my fire science degree then soon I'll be going to a Florida Fire Academy to get FF state certified, so Im trying to prepare anyway I can so hopefully something works out.

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    Default Best of luck

    ffman02,
    I think you are on the right track to become a career firefighter. This job is all about the right attitude. It really comes down to how bad you want it. The guys that get hired have the right attitude. They are out there testing, going to additional training and always trying to improve themselves professionally. It sounds like you are on the right track. I'm sure before long you will be on your way to a long career in the fire service. The best of luck to you.

  10. #10
    MembersZone Subscriber Golzy12's Avatar
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    Default

    Credentials are good and everything but the main thing you want to do is show that you have life experience to the oral board. thats the only thing us young guys dont have that the older guys do.

  11. #11
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    COFF1126, Thanks for the advice, I am trying to keep the right attitude about everything related to the Fire Service. At first I was ignorant about it, I just thought people would get hired easily out of some kind of fire school, but now I see how tough it is. But I did have several let downs over the past couple of months in career searches for firefighting. I passed some entry level tests with high scores but others I completely missed it, or made it all the way to the interviews and didn't get a job offer, and one or two I passed everything and made a hiring list. I definetly know I made a lot of errors and things to improve on but I don't think its a bad start for me. I just try to work harder and harder at things I need improvement on so hopefully it works out.
    Anyway, I plan to keep my goal of getting a Fire Science degree going, continue to volunteer, soon go to a Florida Academy pending acceptance, get FF1/2 then EMT certified, and just do whatever I can to show this huge commitment to the Fire Service to panel board members, Chiefs, etc, whoever I interview or get a job with. I know since I am young the best I can do is just put those things on a resume, trying to take all those things on at once trying to demonstrate some kind of responsibility/commitment, so hopefully it works.

  12. #12
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    Default 21 years old?

    Hey
    Keep going for it. How would you like to wake up some morning at 50 years old and discover you want to be a fireman?
    Large cities in Massachusetts have a max. age of 32, you can add up to four years military service to that. Big Cities want to send you to the academy anyway. A Fire Science degree will help down the line if you want to be an officer.

  13. #13
    MembersZone Subscriber Golzy12's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by krmckinney
    Hey
    Keep going for it. How would you like to wake up some morning at 50 years old and discover you want to be a fireman?
    Large cities in Massachusetts have a max. age of 32, you can add up to four years military service to that. Big Cities want to send you to the academy anyway. A Fire Science degree will help down the line if you want to be an officer.
    A fire science degree wont just help you down the line, it will help you become a firefighter. An AAS in fire science will definatly be an asset if you know how to use it, and like I said I've been seeing a lot of dept's that are giving 5 preference points for an AAS in fire science, Some now even require it to test for their dept. But on big citys that dont require an AAS or give extra points for it, you have to know how to present it in the oral board to convey experience and dedicaiton to the fire service.

  14. #14
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    Default presenting your qualifications

    Golzy makes an excellent point. Even if a department doesn't have some requirements, you should stress that you have qualifications that are going to benefit their fire department.

  15. #15
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    Default Degree/Academy

    I'm not aware of any departments that are requiring or giving preference points for a AAS fire science on entry level tests. Some do offer educational incentive pay once you get on or through probation. Some though require an academy. Especially for some fire/medic positions.

    Getting an academy under your belt will give you the hands on experience and confidence that you have what it takes to complete a department academy. It will also be a plus for a deparment knowing you have already demonstrated your ability before they invest big buck on you before they put you on the line.

    Training Division On Line Fire Academy might be good for many reasons.

    If you’re a candidate who can’t take off time from work and or come up
    with big bucks to get in a fire academy we believe
    www.TrainingDivision.com in Texas is worth your consideration.

    The course is broken into two portions. The larger portion is done
    online in a virtual classroom following strict NFPA Firefighter and
    Firefighter II standards. Then the second portion two-week “Boot Camp.”
    Boot camps will be scheduled as often as needed and in locations
    geographical layout of enrolled students.

    The course is approved by the State of Texas, an International Fire
    Service Accredited (IFSAC) state. This accreditation is transferable to
    other IFSAC accepted states. Check with your local jurisdiction for
    details on their individual IFSAC process.

    At the two-week boot camp, TrainingDivision.com provides housing, food,
    materials and structural turn out gear.

    How’s their success rate? Scores average 87 on state tests, far
    exceeding state averages.

    Cost $2500

    Learn more here: http://www.trainingdivision.com/index.htm

    What does it take to get hired? Learning how to take a firefighter interview! Here's a candidate who didn't know you needed all those degrees, credentials and experience:

    Captain Bob,

    I am emailing you to inform you of my official hiring. Having no FF history and knowing only a few firefighters, your program aided me in getting my badge. Out of over 600 applicants, I was # 6 and the dept. was hiring 8. I start October 3rd. I'm proud to say I'm officially a new member of a department just north of Indianapolis, IN, which is also located in the fastest growing county in the state as well as the whole U.S. JIM
    ______________________________ _______________

    "Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

    Fire "Captain Bob"

    www.eatstress.com

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    Default Younger Candidates

    Younger candidates have credentials too!

    As long as you can present your package at the oral board, age should not be an issue. The problem is many younger candidates don't think they have the life experience needed. First you never tell the board your age. Too many candidates begin with, "Hi, my name is Jeff Johnson, I'm 20 years old and want to be a firefighter." I'm surprised by how many actually look older.

    I gave a presentation at a fire college. Many students didn't feel they had any experience that would apply to the position. That was until I asked several candidates to tell me about their first and succeeding jobs in life; no matter how menial it seemed. Many had paper routes, mowing lawns and working at Burger King. O.K., what did you learn? Once the answers started flowing, we heard how they learned to work hard, have responsibility, learn customer service and how to work as a team. Did you participate in sports in school? Did you letter? Captain of the team. Isn't that working as a team. Do any of these areas apply to the fire service? You bet! So any time you can relate your personal life experience in answering an oral board question, you are telling the oral board that you not only know the answer the question, you have already lived it!

    When the board asks what you have done to prepare for the position, don't forget to rewind the video tape of your life and create an early trail of how you learned how to work hard, have responsibility, and work as a team.

    The biggest part of getting a high enough oral board score that will get you the badge is convincing the oral board you can do the job before you get it. Stories are convincing evidence that you are the match for the badge!

    I knew several fire explorers through our deparment who were too young to test. They were using this time to learn how to take a firefighter interview. At a large city badge ceremony one of the fire scouts got a badge on the first test he was old enough to take. You have never seen a happier rookie firefighter.
    ______________________________ _______________

    "Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

    Fire "Captain Bob"

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  17. #17
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptBob
    I'm not aware of any departments that are requiring or giving preference points for a AAS fire science on entry level tests. Some do offer educational incentive pay once you get on or through probation. Some though require an academy. Especially for some fire/medic positions.
    Minneapolis gives 5 preference points to people with fire degrees so does milwaukee. Bismark ND and Green Bay WI requires you to have at least an AAS in fire science, there are some other depts. in WI that require you to have a degree but I cant think of their names right now. Myabe it's just a midwest thing.

    and also Captin Bob, you have to admit that having a degree (in fire science) will help you even on a department that doesnt require it for hiring. You just have to know how to use it to your advantage in the oral. You dont want to hammer the degree into the board's head but you want to use it to show dedication and experience, but you absolutely dont want to come off as a know it all, you have to remember your applying for "a snotty nosed rookie position".

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    Default Yep

    also Captin Bob, you have to admit that having a degree (in fire science) will help you even on a department that doesnt require it for hiring. You just have to know how to use it to your advantage in the oral. You dont want to hammer the degree into the board's head but you want to use it to show dedication and experience, but you absolutely dont want to come off as a know it all, you have to remember your applying for "a snotty nosed rookie position".

    I agree. Don't get me wrongt. I believe in education. But there is an army out there with every degree, volunteer experience, certificate and merrit badge you can think of chasing this job. Where are you going to get the most bang for your buck in preparing for the opportunity on game day?

    Consider this: I recently became a PROUD employee of The Anchorage Fire Department. Tomorrow night, my recruit class of 24 will graduate. In the class is a group of guys with widely varying backgrounds, many of which have nothing to do with Fire Departments at all. This goes to prove that fire departments aren't always looking for people with experience, but are more likely looking for individuals with great Firefighter characteristics. Casey.

    I believe the real secret is learning how to take a firefighter entry level oral board interview. Too many candidates just keep packing on credentials when they don't score high enough on a list. This might give some insight:

    Capt Bob,I just finished taking the oral interview with LA City and wanted to write a quick note.

    First I want to thank you for the information and tools that you have supplied me with. It worked I scored a 90 and have a background scheduled.

    As you have said before this is the most important step in the process and the step that is least prepared for. Well I can support your statement. As I watched the recording of my score (reading upside down) I noticed 60's and 70's on the scores of those that interviewed before me. I would assume their were about 25 names on the sheet prior to mine.

    Again the methods you teach do work.

    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%.
    Last edited by CaptBob; 10-08-2005 at 12:59 PM.
    ______________________________ _______________

    "Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

    Fire "Captain Bob"

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  19. #19
    MembersZone Subscriber Golzy12's Avatar
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    Default

    Oh yea I still know the importance of the oral board, I going to be using my tape recorder to study for my first oral board. It's in two weeks.

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