1. #1
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    Default Finish college or medic school?

    Hey everyone-could use some opinions/advice

    Next spring I will hopefully be a live in FF/EMT up near college park, MD. I am currently a sophomore in college right now. I have my EMT-Basic and I really love doing EMS. I ultimately want to attend med school or PA school, but I think I want to be a paramedic for a few years before doing that. Here's my question:

    -I have the option to take an EMT-I class in Feb, going until July. Then I could take paramedic classes from August 2006 until Jan 2007. Should I do take this oppurtunity or should I complete my 4 year degree? I unfortuanatley have not taken any premed classes, so I would really have to buckle down, and i am not really enjoying college as much as I thought I would.

    -I thought if I get my EMT-I and possibly paramedic as well, I could get hired on at a fire dept. (Hopefully DC or NOVA) and then take night classes/online classes to get my BA over several years. Then try to do one of those one year post bac programs and then hopefully to med school in like 7-8 years. Is this a feasibe idea?

    Would I have a good chance at getting hired by a dept like DC or NOVa with my EMT-I next summer?

    Sorry for the long post-Im just wondering what other peoples opinions are, Im hoping Mike Ward and Capt Bob can chime in if they see this-I would really value their advice and anyone elses. Thanks a lot everyone.

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    College,college,college. Finish the four year degree first. While paramedic school can be difficult, it is much shorter and will be easier to due at a later time. I gave up four year college to go to medic school ten years ago, now have been on the job four eight years and am trying to finish my bachelors at night, with a wife,kid,and second job. Hey try getting on full-time while going to college. You may change your mind about med school. It is after all the best job in the world.

  3. #3
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    Default Going to college or getting the badge

    First leave no doubt that I believe in education. Everyone has an opinion, there are exceptions and more than one road to a badge and there are no guarantees in life which ever path you take. If you want to get a Public Administration, Engineering or any other degree as a career track, great. Donít think it will be the key to get into the fire service to ride big red.

    Where are you going to get the most bang for your buck in gaining a badge? We have enough chiefs. We need more Indians. Becoming a medic is the shortest distance between you and that badge.

    There is more on this topic with a lot of players in this previous posting:
    http://forums.firehouse.com/showthread.php?t=76050

    This might help:

    Ask yourself who is getting the badges? The vast majority of candidates we see get hired do not have advanced degrees. They're more in the line of EMT, FF1 academy, working on or have an AA or AS degree or medics. Some have no fire education or experience. Their biggest asset was they leaned how to take an interview.

    Whatís the time line? If youíre just starting college and want to get your BA, it could take you 4 maybe 5 or more years depending on when you can line up and complete all your classes and requirements. Then, if you wanted to go further the timing it to get into and academy and or paramedic school and get some street time another 2+ years? So around 7 years give or take to get in position to go after the badge. Are you going to need student loans? Do you have a special person in your life who is going to wait while you pursue your career? How long can you tread water?

    I'm sure Mike Ward will chime in. This is from a previous posting.

    The following is from:
    Michael J. Ward, MGA, MIFireE
    Assistant Professor
    http://www.gwumc.edu/ems/ward.html
    Fire Science Program Head
    Northern Virginia Community College
    Annandale, VA

    In my preferred world, a high school graduate will attend college and obtain an undergraduate bachelorís degree PRIOR to getting a ďrealĒ job. This illustrates the values of going to college and getting to experiment and become an adult in a semi-protective environment.

    Lets cut through the testosterone and turf wars and consider the question of which is the best way to get a badge. First, I will agree when considering a major in college, fire science provides a poor return on investment if the goal is a career as a paid firefighter.

    There may be another reason why an 18 year old wants to go to work right away. Many graduates of American high schools lack the reading, mathematic or study skills to start freshman college.

    Firefighting is one of the few middle-class jobs not requiring college education as a pre-employment requirement. I think that distinction will evaporate in the next generation. As Captain Bob repeatedly points out, most fire departments do not provide preferential considerations for someone with a two-or-four year degree. If you are going to college to prepare for a career in fire-rescue, your best investment is to obtain paramedic certification.

    THE BRUTALITY OF THE HIRING PROCESS

    Fire departments continue to hire as if it was 1899 Ė you are a slab of meat evaluated for your physical, mental and moral capabilities. The regional or local fire academy will provide the needed on-the-job training. Most of them do not care about your volunteer experience or existing fire service certifications. But many will treat you preferentially if you are a National Registry EMT/Paramedic.

    You may have forgotten what it is like to be on the outside with a burning desire to be a full-time firefighter. That desire results in an endless ďwhat-ifĒ game that reminds me of high school dating.

    Captain Bobís approach to focus on only doing things to get the BADGE is like the suggestions I provide to younger wanna-beís.

    MY OPINION:

    If you can, go to college and get a bachelor degree. Have fun, try out new things, see the world. Get your degree in whatever interests you, since 80% of your fellow graduates end up in jobs different than what their degree says.

    After you get your badge and get off probation, you can take whatever fire science, emergency management, WMD, ICS, or XYZ classes required by your department. Generally, they will pay for those classes.
    My teaching experience goes from high school vocational EMT (three years) to community college (20 years) through university (four years). My personal educational journey includes flunking out of engineering school, while living in a fire station and spending my parentís money. I returned to obtain a bachelor and master degree years later.

    There is a huge amount of diversity in "fire science" academic programs. From community college credit for Firefighter I to graduate engineering and hard science research university PhDs.
    Michael J. Ward, MGA, MIFireE
    Assistant Professor
    http://www.gwumc.edu/ems/ward.html
    Last edited by CaptBob; 12-06-2005 at 07:16 PM.
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    Getting hired on the fire depratment is a full time occupation. Your idea of getting hired as a stepping stone to Medical or PA school sounds great but is probably more than you are bargaining for.

    I would encourage you to stay focused and get through school. Like several of the previous posters have said, get your education.

    If I had it to do all over again I would have listened to my parents and gone to college and earned a degree.

    I was fortunate to get hired at 20 years old and will retire at 50 with a 90% retirement. At 41 I am back in school trying to earn my Bachelors. I would trade it all for going to school and earning my degree at 23 and then get hired on the fire department.

    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com

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    It really depends on what you want. There is no better education than real world experience. Although degrees come in handy for certain jobs. I work with fireman that have degrees and they are as dumb as they come when it comes to the job. As far as going to EMT school, then jumping right in to Medic school I don't agree with that either. I have seen to many people do that and the are terrible medics. Because they never took the time to become a good EMT.

    I work with a guy that is a Firefighter/Paramedic and he took a year leave of absense to go to PA school and then came back to work as a FF/PMDC. He works at the ER on his days off. So it can be done. Hope this helps you, just remember anyone can get a degree, not all can me a good firefighter,paramedic, or EMT.

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    Default Thanks!

    Thanks to everyone who posted. I think I will continue with college for right now, and see where that takes me. It will probaly be much easier to go to medic school in 2-3 years after I get MY BA, than it would be to earn a bachelors degree with premed classes 7 years from now, working for a fulltime department. I really want to build up my EMT experience and decide what I really want to do.

    Once again, thanks for all the posts so far. They have been a really big help, as well as looking at ohter earlier threads on similar subjects.

    Have a good one and stay safe.

    Greg

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    I am 23 yr old trying to get on a paid dept. I understand your dilema because I have struggled with it for the last 5 years and I'm going back in forth right now on medic school. I was a live in FF/EMT near Amarillo, TX for the last 4 years while I got my bus degree. I often wondered why I was getting a degree when all I wanted to do is be a FF, but now I am very glad I did. I got anxious my last year of college and I thought that I could work full time EMS, live at the fire station, and go to college full time. I managed it but it sucked and I wish I had not gone to work as soon as I did. I don't know what type of dept this is in MD but one of the best things for me was being a live in FF. I was going to start medic school in Jan but I think I have decided not to. I also agree with the previous statement - if you become a good EMT first then you'll be better off. For what it's worth I think you're making the right decision.

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    Default Value of a 4 year degree

    I often wondered why I was getting a degree when all I wanted to do is be a FF,

    Can you get hired going the education route? Sure. It happens all the time. Many of our non-medic candidates just started the LA City Academy.

    Iíve coached several candidates who have had B.S./BA degrees in Public Administration areas. They have been misguided by counselors that said this would be an asset to get into the fire service. What ends up happening is these candidates show up at an entry-level oral board boasting and trying to hammer the board with their degree. What they donít understand is not many on the other side of the oral board table have this degree. And most of these candidates will never have a chance to use it in the fire service.

    An associate sent me this information from a fire officer who instructs Fire Protection and Fire Management programs at California State University Los Angeles. With the subject of wanna-bees desiring to get their BA/BS degrees confirmed what you and I already know about candidates in interviews showing up with BA/BS degrees. And that is they get either laughed out of the room or the interview panel becomes resentful and down goes the interview score! DUH!

    This from a SF candidate: I'm currently on the SFFD H-2 list "4th Generation hopefully SFFD"! I'm also a volunteer firefighter/EMT. My volunteer Fire department requires Paramedic certifications for entry-level firefighters. After graduating from a four year university... I had an administration internship with my volunteer department where I wrote and designed the District's Master Plan and preformed statistical analysis for "time respond" for Fire suppression and medical calls. I also went on ride alongs with the engine, truck and even with the chief himself. I was told by the chief if I went out to get my paramedic license... I would be hired on the spot. Becoming a paramedic is not my cup of tea... it's been beaten in my head as a child "from my grandfather and father" to be a firefighter not a medic... ! All of the paid firefighters like my work ethic and all say they should let me in as a Firefighter/EMT.

    My reply: With all due respect to your family members, the playing field has changed. It must be killing you to see these guys hired and it's not you. Like it or not, understand that 75%+ of calls are medical in nature. Eighty percent of the job offerings are for fire medics. Had you gone to medic school as I encourage candidates to do, gained the valuable in service medic street time, you wouldn't be trying to fight your way into a department as an EMT. You would be wearing the H-3 badge for SFFD (I'm 3rd generation San Franciscan myself) or another department.

    John came in for a coaching session after not being able to pass any oral boards. He was one of those candidates who I think was misguided into a Public Administration Degree. During his coaching, he kept trying to come back to his degree. I finally told him, "Screw you! You want to come into my oral board and try to hammer me with a degree you may never use?" Youíre applying for a snotty nose rookie position as a firefighter!" John dropped his head and said, "Maybe thatís why I canít get through any orals."

    John ended up going to paramedic school (which he should have already done instead of the B/A degree). Although he mentioned the B/A degree in his oral board answer "What have you done to prepare for this position" he focused on his personal life and paramedic experience. He got his badge!

    I believe in education. If you want to get a Public Administration, Engineering or any other degree as a career track, great. Donít think it will be the key to get into the fire service. It could hurt you.

    I look for the shortest distance to the badge. If I were starting out, I would run to paramedic school. Yes, you can get on without it. I have candidates all the time who get a badge without being a medic. But for the time spent and with more than 80% of job offerings being fire/medic, the odds are better.

    Many departments have educational incentive programs where they will pay you to go to school. I took advantage of this program and received an additional 5% pay. This 5% was included in my retirement.

    From another candidate:

    With all due respect to all that was said, speaking as a volunteer firefighter who has a 4 year degree, I would say that getting your BA or BS for a firefighter job is not a good way to go. I got my BS, and $100,000 later, I'm hoping to work in a job that requires only a technical certification that costs $250. and having the BS with out the tech cert makes me pretty much unhirable.

    Get your paramedic. get your FF1 and FF2. get your hazmat tech. those are what is going to make you valuable to a company. A 4 year degree is worthwhile, but only if you use it. most departments aren't requiring them. some departments will even pay for you to attend college courses. yes, it helps if you want to become an officer or a chief officer. but your going for entry level. your going to have to pass the physical, pass the psych test, pass the written, and pass the oral board.

    Focus on your goal and don't let anything get in your way until you get it.
    ______________________________ _______________

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

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    It would definitely benefit you to get your medic before getting hired. Obviously you would want to take a job if itís offered to you, but monetarily medic school is a great investment. On my department you receive a 10% differential for being a medic. If you were hired at 25 and worked until 55 that would be an extra $249,000 over your career, and that 10% also goes into retirement.

    We have a program on our computer at work that calculates retirement benefits. I ran the numbers on two different people.

    The first was hired at age 22 and worked until 55. The second was hired four years latter at 26, and also worked until 55. They both left with 500 hrs sick leave on the books. We have one year of vacation count towards retirement, because the younger guy had been on longer he would leave with 60 more hrs.

    The younger guy would leave with 13.5% more retirement pay. For a firefighter receiving top step pay at the salary we make now that would be a difference of $1,062.75 per month, thatís $12,750 per year, and if you lived to be 90 that would be a difference of $446,335 over your retirement.

    While money isnít the only reason you would make a decision regarding your career choices, it does play a part. Getting hired younger doesnít mean you canít continue you education, I would say we have about 30-40 people on my department that have gotten a four year degree or higher in the last five years.


    Good Luck, Captain Rob
    nrtc@sonic.net
    www.myfireinterview.com
    707-869-1330

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    Ok so I lied - "all I want to do is be a FF." What I should have said is all I want to do is be in the fire service. I did not get my degree and I am not using it to help me get on as a FF. But I know that one day in the future (10-20 yrs) I will want to move up and be an officer. I know you can go to school while you're working but I did that my last semester and it was a lot harder, so I just thought I might as well get as much out of the way now while I did not have a family or anything. Like I said I was planning on going to medic school but that's another 1 1/2 yrs to wait to become a FF. There are several dept's that I want to work for that are BLS dept's (Fort Worth, Denver, Amarillo, etc) and I don't think they care if you are a medic or not. Then I started thinking well if they are only BLS then why spend the time and the money if I can get on without it. Maybe I'm wrong - as I said it's been a very tough decision and I keep second guessing myself.

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    Default Get the JOB first!

    Trent:

    With all due respect, none of this counts unless you get the job first. Trying to go to school full time and work can be difficult.

    Being a firefighter working 10 days a month and going to school is not the same thing. How much education do you think you can acquire in 5-10-15 or 20 years once you get on? Many department will pay for you to go.
    Last edited by CaptBob; 12-10-2005 at 06:18 PM.
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    Trent,
    STAY IN SCHOOL. Don't get sucked in to believeing that you have to become a paramedic. There are plenty of jobs out there for people without a PM license. I attended my department's recruit graduation today. Out of 19 that graduated, only 3 were medics. Yes, people will tell you that many departments require a PM license to test, I will tell you that the MAJOR departments do not require it.
    Trust me, you'll be better off in the LONG RUN with your degree.

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    FFRob,
    I fit into the computer program you just mentioned. I turned 22 in the recruit academy. My department has 3% at 50. I'm 41 and will retire at 50 with close to 90% plus a 9% PERS enhancement. Translated: I will retire in 8 1/2 years with well over 90% salary the rest of my life.
    I would have traded it all in to go to college, earn an education and not get hired until I was 25.
    The fire department will always be there and there will always be jobs out there for QUALIFIED people. People with 4-year degrees do well in the testing process. People with a basketful of fire science classes and no direction struggle in the process.
    STAY IN SCHOOL!
    Last edited by BCLepore; 12-10-2005 at 06:00 PM.

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    Default Which Way?

    Two friends, Dave and Scott were volunteers in their city. Dave had been convinced that he needed to get a degree in order to be hired. Scott told him to stay, become a medic and they would get on. Dave went off for six years, got his BA degree in business and still couldnít get hired.

    Scott became a medic and was hired by his volunteer department. He now has 6 years seniority, made more than $100,000 each year with OT ($140,000 last year---thatís real money) and enjoys the good life, more toys than you could imagine and has traveled everywhere.

    Guess what? Dave finally figured out he needed to become a medic (yes, he enjoys the medic side) to get hired. He just got hired. Where you ask? The department he was a volunteer for. But he had to figure something else out first.

    Daveís dad is one of the guys I work out with at the gym with. Dave had been trying to get a fire job. He has all the usual credentials. Firefighter 1, BA degree, 3 seasons with CDF, rode ambulance yada, yada, yada.

    He has been testing for over 6 years. His dad gave him a coaching session just prior to his oral for his dream department. Dave had been practicing with a tape recorder. During the coaching session, Dave expressed his burning desire, passion, ďmy life won't be complete until I get a badgeĒ compassionate longing, agonizing story.

    One problem. Dave sucked big time! Even after testing for 6 years, he wasn't ready for any oral board. His answers were garbage. This should be no surprise, because most candidates are not ready either. Coaching usually takes about an hour. We ended at 2 hours. His closing was a dog and pony show (I wished this candidate would just end and get out of the room) pathetic mess.

    I asked Dave how he expected to get a badge when he hadn't spent the time to get ready for an oral. He said, like most candidates, (a big clue here), he thought he was. This is what most candidates think. Does this sound like you? Captain Bill Long is an oral board rater. He said you knew which candidates were really prepared. Those prepared candidates caused you to straighten up in your chair.

    The important point to realize is it doesn't take much to improve your situation and separate yourself from the clone candidates. Dave only had a couple of days to review his coaching tape and redial his approach.

    He called me the day after his interview. He sounded like he didn't step on any land mines, wasn't stumped and was able to put it together to make a real good presentation.

    A few days later, there was a message on my recorder. A guy was yelling, Captain Bob, you are the man. It was Dave. He had just received the call that he was going to the Chiefís Oral. His first in the six years he had been testing. Not only was he going to the Chiefís Oral. He was number . . . 2! They were interviewing 30 candidates for 5 jobs. How do you like those odds?

    When you are going for all the marbles, you want to make sure youíre riding the winning pony!

    As my son Rob says, ďThere's an oral board in your future, you just donít know when.Ē Do you want to be telling yourself ĎI suckí coming out of your next oral and you will do better next time. Or, have that feeling that you knew ĎI smoked ití and it was going to get you that badge?Ē

    Dave got the job. His dad pinned his badge at graduation. Lots of tears.

    Everyone has an opinion on what you need to do to get hired. There are exceptions, more than one road to a badge and there are no guarantees in life which ever path you take.

    You have to decide which path youíre going to hitch your wagon to in achieving your badge. Because in the months and years ahead there will be some who will succeed in gaining their badges and sadly many that wonít.
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    Think about where you want to be in 10, 15, 25, 30 years. Do you need a degree to get hired as a firefighter or paramedic? Not in most places. Will you make Lt., Capt., or Chief in today's world with out the sheepskin? Not easily for the first two ranks, and not very likely anywhere for the top one. You need to balance the start with the end game in your choice. Either way will work out fine in the end, one just might make it easier than the other.
    Be for Peace, but don't be for the Enemy!
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    Learn from the mistakes of others; you won't live long enough to make them all yourself.

    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl View Post
    LOL....dont you people have anything else to do besides b*tch about our b*tching?

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    Bob wrote:
    "Everyone has an opinion on what you need to do to get hired. There are exceptions, more than one road to a badge and there are no guarantees in life which ever path you take."

    Dennis wrote:
    "Either way will work out fine in the end, one just might make it easier than the other."

    I agree with both of these statements. There are many ways to getting a badge. For my money I believe getting a Bachelors degree will help you get hired as an entry-level firefighter and it will help you promote down the road.

    Getting a paramedic license will help you get a job, but does nothing to help you promote.

    While you may only be focused on getting hired, you should forcast where you want to be in 10, 15, 20 years etc.

    In my book it doesn't stop after you get hired as a firefighter. Your career is just beginning. The competition is very tough now in the fire service. My department now requires 11 State Fire marshall Officer classes (1 week for each class) just to take the Captain's exam, We are moving toward mandating an AA degree as well. Very soon we will require a Bachelors degree and 11 Chief Officer courses to take the BC exam.

    Good luck,

    Paul Lepore
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com
    Last edited by BCLepore; 12-10-2005 at 09:37 PM.

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    I am a new firefighter and have an Bachelors of Education degree. I believe that my 1 semester EMT basic certification played a more substantial role in landing the career than the 4 year degree. That being said, I am in no way sorry that I went ahead and earned the degree prior to becoming a firefighter. I can honestly say that the degree is not visibly helping me one bit within my career at the present time, but it is opening doors that would otherwise be closed if I did not have it. I can now apply to schools and earn a MS degree in the fire service while working a 24 on 48 off shift schedule. I can make a living and go to school at the same time. If you know for sure that you want your career to be in the fire service, do whatever it takes to land the position then work on your degree while working on your career at the same time.

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    I graduated high school with another guy named Rob. We both were going to be firefighters. I went to Jr. college, got some time as an EMT and as a reserve firefighter and was hired when I was 23. Rob when to a four year college and started ďlearning to testĒ and getting his cert.Ďs about the time I was hired. He came out number 1 on our test in 1990, had his chiefís went through the background and then the county put up a hiring freeze. Like a lot of departments at that time, the budgets had shrunk and nobody was hiring, he never got a job as a firefighter. We didnít hire one person for seven years.

    Budget times are similar now and you canít know when departments will be hiring. While I have said there will always be jobs, I believe Chief Lepore has been of the opinion the jobs are drying up. A while back he wrote :
    "The last few years saw hundreds (probably thousands) of people get hired in the fire department. I believe it was one of the easiest periods we will ever see in our lifetime. The 3% at 50 retirement as well as a natural retirement cycle made it a time to remember.
    The tide is quickly receeding. It is imperative that you get your shop in order. You do not have the luxury of waiting for the next exam. The jobs are dwindling.
    I strongly recommend taking a few extra classes, get in the academy now. Do whatever it takes to put yourself in a position to be hired NOW. You cannot wait."


    The 3% at 50 benifet that Paul was talking about is the reason my department will have up to 60 people retire march 30 of 2006. But after that I don't see us hiring for a long time.

    If you wait four years, the budget climate of the state may be worse and you could have every degree and certificate in the world but not a job. Since getting hired doesnít mean you canít get your degree, but getting the degree could mean you wonít get a job, I see it as a no brainer.

    The younger you are hired the less you pay into retirement, meaning you will have more take home pay each month. You can retire younger and at a hirer rate. You will have more chances and more experience to get promoted and with more seniority, in a lot of departments, you will get first pick of vacation and station assignments.
    Last edited by FFighterRob; 12-11-2005 at 02:24 PM.

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    Rob,
    I love the irony of your post. You are illustrating my exact point.

    I posted this information on a California based website a while back with the 3%@50 retirement in mind. My message to candidates is that the window is rapidly closing and they need to get qualified as the opportunities are rapidly dwindling.

    When I wrote this I was either a brand new BC or at the end of my career as a Captain. Now as a BC I am privy to a completely different set of peers. While I believed I had a good feel of what the ďChiefĒ was looking for, now I know first hand.

    In the last two months I have proctored two Captainís exams and one BCís exam. The panels are made up of Chief Officers from all over the region. In addition, I recently spent 30 days in the gulf in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Lastly, I just spent a week at a WMD Unified Command class at Texas A and M where my gold badge was the smallest in the room. The topic of conversation always centers on hiring qualified recruits. Education is important to each and every one of the Chiefs I speak to.

    One quote that sticks in my mind from a Deputy Chief form a major Northern California Fire Department (one near you that still uses wooden ladders) "I can find entry-level firefighters, they are everywhere. I am looking for someone who will become an officer in 10 to 12 years."

    You wrote:
    "The 3% at 50 benifet that Paul was talking about is the reason my department will have up to 60 people retire march 30 of 2006. But after that I don't see us hiring for a long time."

    Again you illustrate my point that I made months ago. Get your affairs in order. The jobs are getting filled.

    Rob,
    Knowing your department, there is already an eligibility list established. If they are not currently on the list they will not be in a position to be hired when all of the vacancies occur in 3 months.

    I am obviously not going to convince you about the importance of education. You see things from your perspective. I see them from a completely different vantage point. Mineís not right and yours isnít wrong, theyíre just different. As was brought up in an earlier discussion, there are many ways to get a job and everyone has an opinion.
    Last edited by BCLepore; 12-11-2005 at 07:36 PM.

  20. #20
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    Actually the eligibility list we have right now is the first and maybe only paramedics/firefighter list. With the class that is in our academy now, we will be able to staff all of our stations with a medic. This next test we give will be for firefighter EMTís, which should be around January, because medics cost us 10% more we will be looking to hire EMTís.

    Neither Capt. Bob nor myself are trying to tell people not to go to school or do as much as they can to further their education. But to do it at the expense of getting a job doesnít make since. I know you are talking from the point of view that you didnít get your degree and then had to work hard after you were working to get through it. While it would have been far easier for you to have gotten your degree before you got hired, what if they werenít hiring then? Instead, you had an extra four more years under belt going into all of your promotions, and you were able to buy your house and start earning equity four years earlier. But what I think is most important is you and I both were able to learn wisdom from people that would have been retired by the time we would have been hired had we waited. In my case those were the guy that fought more fire than we will ever see, were able to have that sixth since when it came to the grass fires, and did this job when it paid so little that they had to have a second job to make ends meet. There are a very few of the ďold schoolĒ guys left and they will be gone in four years.

    Good Luck, Capt Rob
    nrtc@sonic.net
    myfireinterview.com
    (707)869-1330

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    If you are thinking about dropping college I would be very apprehensive about doing that. I am in college now and have been a firefighter for about five years. As much as I sometimes think about dropping college to go full time I just remember getting injured on a couple of jobs. Nothing serious, but if I ever got so seriously injured that I couldn't be firefighter anymore then what kind of marketable skills do I have without a degree. Go for the degree brother, just remember you will have the degree for the rest of your life and God forbid you are ever injured on the job you need to have something to fall back on.

  22. #22
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    Here is an easy way to cover all of the bases. When you graduate high school, get your firefighter I and EMT. Either spend the time and money then for medic school or wait until you are done with college. Then when you start college you can start working part time and over the summers as an EMT/medic and/or firefighter. You can take the tests as they come up and decide whether or not you want to leave school to work if you are offered a job.

    If, as some have said, you do need a degree to get the job, you will have been an EMT or medic/firefighter for four years. Hopefully have gotten experience in your time off and have had four years to prefect your test taking ability. Also you should have been able to get six months experience as an EMT so you can go right into medic school if you havenít done so already.

    If you took this approach you would leave all of your options open. I canít see many people turning down a job to finish school, but that would be your choice.
    Good Luck, Capt Rob
    nrtc@sonic.net
    707 869 1330
    myfireinterview.com
    Last edited by FFighterRob; 12-15-2005 at 02:58 PM.

  23. #23
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    Default There is more than one way to gain a badge.

    Is your goal to become a firefighter? Whichever way you go it all comes down to priorities. I believe in doing what is necessary to improve your odds in gaining that badge. The vast majority of candidates Iíve seen over the last few years do not have a four-year degree. That has not changed coast to coast.

    As one candidate said getting a firefighter job is like running a race. You just start running and keep running until someone tells you to stop and you have a badge.

    If you want to improve you odds by 80% you have the affinity and interest, become a paramedic. Otherwise you will only be able to take 20% of the regular non-medic fire tests. This will be the biggest return on your investment. For every non-medic fire job there are up to 800 candidates chasing it. For every fire/medic job there are 12-20 candidates. Only 225 took the last CoCo County fire/medic test.

    Candidate after candidates tell me how their odds quickly improved after getting their medic cert and savvy street experience time. Iíve never heard that from a candidate who just finished the degree. What I do hear from them is they had to gain more education and certs to compete. Many finally became medics to improve their chances.

    It can be a priority to gain your degree once you get hired. For many life takes them in different direction. They get involved in outside activities, sports, hunting, work an off duty job,start businesses, or move to a remote area. Then when a promotion stares them in the face, theyíre held hostage to commit to gaining their degree, have to give up their first born, and become instant converts that you have to get that degree before you get hired.

    Then there are those who get advanced degrees and become educated beyond their intelligence. Iím sure everyone has seen these beauties on line.

    When I was hired, I calculated that five to six years out 36 engineers and officers would retire. I set a priority to finish my degree and have experience to get promoted. The first promotional test I was qualified to take I made the list and got acting time. The next year I made engineer. The next year was that sixth year. I placed 2nd on the list and 30 days later got the badge. I was a line officer captain for 22 years. I took and acted for BC but did not care for the position. I was paid to go to college. I received incentive pay while going. When I received my degree I received a higher percentage. That pay is calculated as part of the retirement.

    Yea there are a couple of departments where you might need to get that degree. This is highly unusual.

    Again, Iíve heard from more than 20 candidates who are either in the LA City Academy, scheduled for one of the next academies or in the final stages of completing their backgrounds. Not one has a four-year degree. Not one! Many had little of no previous interview experience.

    Donít tell candidates like this they have to head out for 5-7 years to get a four year degree and any other credentials to get hired as a firefighter:

    Having no FF history and knowing only a few firefighters, Out of over 600 applicants, I was # 6 and the dept. was hiring 8. I started October 3rd. I'm proud to say I'm officially a new member of a Fire 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.

    ďLife is what happens to you when youíre too busy to make plans.Ē
    Last edited by CaptBob; 12-18-2005 at 02:02 PM.
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  24. #24
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    Default Education Is More Than Book Smarts

    As a medic working at a dept. for the last several months I can say that my B.A. I earned from a private college probabally didn't help significantly from the angle of the book smarts. However, the teamwork, organizational and ability to learn how to think logically that I learned in college have paid off. In my area many depts are mandating at least an assoc. degree to test if you are not a FF3 or PM. Getting a degree is up to you but if you are young enough it can only help, especially when the coveted white shirts are handed out. If you do pursue a degree get something applicable in "real life" like Bus, Mgt. or something else. You never know what will happen in the future, God forbid you would get hurt. Fire Sci. degrees really aren't worth it b/c you can learn most of those things through experience and vocational classes and it can't be used very many other places. I will always stand behind education as being a key to developing a person no matter what the occupation. If at all possible go away to school, there's few quicker ways to learn to become a responsible adult for someone fresh out of school. Keep testing as well. the worst thing that can happen is that you get hired and then the dept. pays for you to finish your degree.

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    Default Hmmmm

    Getting a degree is up to you but if you are young enough it can only help, especially when the coveted white shirts are handed out.

    You have to get the J-O-B first before you can eventually get a short at a white shirt.

    From another posting:

    i have not seen many departments that have strict college requirements. the most frequent requirements I have seen (this is mostly the east coast of course) is FF I/II and/or having national registry paramedic cert. Few require college, those that do typically will require 60 credits or an associates. i have yet to see a department requiring a bachelors and from my expierence a degree in fire science is treated the same as a degree in criminal justice or english.

    you should carefully screen the departments you are considering and find out there requirements and preferences. i am definately pro college i have my bachelors myself however my medic cert is what got my hired and got me more money not my bachelors. so just in the interests of saving your time and increasing your odds of getting hired take a look and see if a fire science is preferred or required and please if you get a chance post it here because i woul be very interested in this is becoming a growing trend among departments.
    ______________________________ _______________

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