1. #1
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    Default Prospective ff, miami FL

    Hey everyone, Im 19 and working to be a firefighter im currently enrolled at MDC in south miami for the EMS program. I am extremly confused! I know i want to be a firefighter and i know i want to get all my certs before i even apply but i ve have talked to a few firefighters and college advisors about the path to take and i get different answers from all. What i am looking for is what to get, where to get it, and how. I really dont know much like i said im 19 and just out of high school. Help plz.

  2. #2
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    I think you are getting different answers because most of us have taken our own unique paths to becoming firefighters. You are unique in that you are starting out of high school. I desperately wish I had started sooner. If it helps, read the post to JClarke, he seems to be in a similar situation of just starting out.
    I'm sure that things are a little different in Miami compared to where I am in Central Florida, so take this with a grain of salt. My advice is to finish your EMT cert first. Go to work in either a hospital or private ambulance service. You need to get good experience quickly. Even though we like to stress the firefighting portion of our jobs, it is really only a small percentage of what we do. Employers are looking for good medical experience. You can get that in hospitals and ambulance services. Next, go after your firefighter certification. Talk with the firefighters in the departments you want to apply to. Chances are they will be able to recommend which fire academy to go to. They are not all the same. Pick one that has a high pass rate with the state. It is all about passing state. Academy is also very physically demanding. Get in shape. Run to get your cardiovascular stamina up.
    Once you have your two certs and depending on how many new hires the departments are looking for you will be qualified to apply. Keep in mind that you will lose out to paramedics, but it is certainly possible to get a job at this point. Which brings you to the next certification you will need. I know I am not alone in advising you to work as an EMT for a minimum of one year or preferably longer prior to beginning Paramedic courses. It is essential that you have your BLS skills down before attempting to learn ALS skills. With a lot of patience and some time you will land the job you want.
    Also, put in applications in as many places as possible at the same time. This may not be standard practice in the business world, but with the competition in the fire service it is quickly becoming the only way to get a job. Practice for your interviews well ahead of time. Ask current firefighters what questions they were asked and the responses they gave. It will help you get an idea of what employers expect of you, as well as help you formulate answers ahead of time. It is also very important that you go into your interview dressed in a suit. Going in wearing dress pants, jacket, tie... the whole nine yards will impress your board just walking in the door. Most applicants fail to realize just how stiff the competition really is.
    Lastly, you wrote that you talked to college advisors. No offense to them, but the majority of them haven't stepped outside of acedamia in a long time. (My sister in law is one, I love her, but she doesn't always understand the "real world") They are most likely advising you to go for a degree of some kind first. You do need to, but not yet. Your EMT and Paramedic courses will get you the bulk of the classes you need for an AS degree in emergency sciences. You need to get your career rolling then do your degree classes. As an employed FF you will have plenty of time to work on your degree.
    Good luck. With patience and dedication it will be worth it.

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