1. #1
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jul 2005

    Default A newbie to the service....Where to start and need some advice

    Hey everyone,
    I've been a lurker on here for a while and just decided to start posting to get people's feedback.....I hope to have some good discussions and get good advice on here!

    My father is a career firefighter for a city in upstate NY and I have good memories of him taking me to the firehouse when I was little. I have wanted to get on the fire department since I was 4 years old.

    Currently I ride with a student run volunteer ambulance on my college's campus and am working on my NYS EMT-B certification. I enjoy EMS and I think its a decent way to get experience for the future, because I know the bulk of the calls I'd see as a firefighter are EMS. Collegate EMS seems to be a different animal then city fire/EMS or "real" agencies, but that is a different story.

    I'm signed up for the firefighter test for my city and hope to do well enough to be appointed sometime in the future.
    The following is where I am looking for some feedback. I am not going to make any decisions based on what advice anyone here gives me, just looking for some honest feedback, so please speak your mind.

    First of all, say I did well enough on the test that they called me up in however long of a time...I just completed my freshman year of college....Guessing based on how long it typically takes to be called up, I will probably still be in school if I get called. Is it best to get the degree (urban studies and planning) and then pursue getting on the job after school, or pursue my dream if they DO call me up, quit full time school, and find a way to complete my degree part time while working toward/and after being appointed to the fire department? Right now my gut feeling is that I'll end up just completing school in one shot, but there is the option if I get the call....Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself.

    My other issue is I have been wanting to join my local volunteer fire department...I feel that not only would I be able to get some useful training, and some (however small in my town) experience but really I just want to do it to better myself and give my time...Not to mention to just have something to do and meet people. However, my father is of the "old school" and he's anti vollie. Look at any argument on these forums that paid guys say about vollies and he's probably mentioned it to me at some point. There are some departments around my area which in varying degrees exude the so called "vollie stereotype" that some paid guys I know of complain about, but there are many others where they seem like worthwhile places to be a part of. Sometimes I agree with my father, sometimes not on the paid vs. vollie issues......Its interesting kind of growing up in a firehouse atomsphere where its anti vollie, then later having the desire to do it, mainly in order to have something to do and give my time, with the hopes of becoming career in the future. Should I just not care what my father thinks and join a department? (Not trying to start an argument on this paid vs. vollie issue, BTW) I'm kinda on the fence....I want to try something new which will hopefully become a career, but I don't want to disappoint those who are important to me either.

    Thanks for looking,

  2. #2
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    voyager9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Southern NJ


    For your first question, I would think it depends on how far into your degree you are when you get called up. I guess it also depends what the schedule is where you get hired. If you're just working days then you could finish up school by taking evening classes. If you're working 24's..etc. then it gets a little harder but you could probably try to fit some day classes into your schedule.

    As for your second, I would go ahead and join. At least go and check out the department. If they look professional/well organized then its a great place to get some experience. If they're a bunch of wahoos then you may want to rethink joining. Joining the Volunteer department is a great way to meet people, get some experience, and find out if firefighting is truely something you want to do.

    Another option would be to join the vol dept but hold off on trying to get hired until you're done with school. You're only on your first year and things may change before you get your diploma. I know guys who were going to drop out after their freshman year who then found a major they loved and ended up graduating with honors.

    Keep an open mind, get your degree, and learn as much as you can while you can.

  3. #3
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    Join Date
    Jun 2006

    Thumbs up

    Last edited by POWERSLADDER2; 08-26-2007 at 09:22 PM.

  4. #4
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Sep 2003


    I am a paid volly in Ohio. I love it! I am the first firefighter/EMTB in my family. Most of my family is military and police so thats what I grew up with. What made me decide to become a firefighter/emt??? I was in a head-on collision and a local volly dept saved my life. I knew from that moment that it was something I had to do!! After my son was old enough to understand where mom was going and why, I joined my local dept and I have been here for 8 years now. I started out as a EMT but after a year at it my fellow firefighters challenged me...they were sure I couldnt make it through my basic ff training because I was sooooo old...in my early 30s. I managed to prove them wrong and here I am. I definitely would have done the same had I grown up in the city, started with a volly dept just to get the feel of the fire service and then moved on to a fulltime paid position if I felt like that was the career move I wanted to make. To have a college degree as a back up is a smart move!! The fire service is a dangerous one, any of us can get injured without a moments notice and have to give it up. If,heaven forbid, it does a college degree to fall back on is a must!
    So my thoughts are...college while on a volly dept then move on to do what you have grown to love.
    Beings that I didnt grow up around anyone that worked as a fulltime firefighter like your father, I am curious what it is that he doesnt like about volly depts.?? It might be a great educational tool for me to use to improve our dept., if something is lacking. Fill me in!!!
    Jami Meller
    Gorham-Fayette Fire and Rescue
    Fayette, Ohio
    Jami Sue


    Live each day as if it were your last!

    Ember Lou loves all of her firefighter families!

    GFFD forever!!

    Gorham-Fayette Fire Explorers Rock!!

  5. #5
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    The Mistake On The Lake


    Finish your degree.

    Volunteering can be great. However, if you decide to do it, remember that school, work, and family have to come first. You have to have enough time for studying and homework, as well as for your family, friends, and work, as well as enough time dedicated to calls and training. I've seen a few people in my department, in a real short time, realize they can't commit like we need them to, and end up leaving.

    So first and foremost make sure you can fit it in the schedule.

    As far as the full time job...

    Apply if you want that job. However, like was said, think twice about accepting the job if it is offered to you before you're done with school. It's good to have something you can fall back on.

    I would really like to know though how the EMS for your college area is so different from any EMS anywhere else. Across the board, it's generally the same calls, for the same reasons. Sure, you might get more OD's in the run down parts of large cities, and more violent crimes or something, but the local colleges around here, get the same calls on their campuses as everywhere else. Just maybe not in the same volume.

  6. #6
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    CALFFBOU's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002


    I only scanned the orignal post, but you should finish your schooling. Get that degree and build that foundation for the future.

    You can always volunteer and play, but an education will propel you forward in the fire service.

  7. #7
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Aug 2007


    I would go ahead and take a few tests if you can fit them in around school. If you get to the point where they are calling you for a job then you can cross that bridge when you come to it. Most departments have similiar testing procedures and getting used to them will greatly help you down the road. Many people test for years, so although I don't know you and could be wrong, its not likely that you will land a career job on the first test that you take. Just my 2 cents

  8. #8
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jan 2007


    the person hasn't posted in two years, i dont think our advice is going to be of much use

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