1. #1
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    Default Fire Career and take 50% pay cut.......

    that is what I'm thinking about doing. I am 30 years old and have wanted to become a firefighter since I was 19 and instead went to a couple years of JC college and went into the family business. I am a very vital piece of the business and get compensated accordingly, but I honestly don't know how happy I am. Money is not everything to me, but being married and having a beautiful home and such it makes things more difficult to decide about changing careers. I have a few friends who are captains and engineers and I see how happy they are and how fullfilled they are and I am envious. Here in California, what is the average time frame to be hired on after schooling? I would be ready for paramedic school next spring and just thought I would see what you guys think. I want to be a part of something special because you only have one shot at this thing called life!

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    The pay cut is only temporary... as you gain time on the job, it will go up... promotions to Engineer, Lieutenant Captain, etc. and getting on specialized teams, such as hazmat , tech rescue etc. will make up the difference.

    You can also work in the family business on your days off ( what are they going to do...disown you?)

    Go for it!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    I took at a 50% pay cut when I went to the FD. I decided to take the plunge simply because it was what I felt was right for me, and it worked out far better that I could have planned. The job has allowed me to raise 3 kids, put them through college, and still be in a position where I can retire without needing food stamps.

    But that was just me. You've got to make those kinds of life altering decisions based on your expectations and projections. I had the opportunity to play minor league ball when I was a kid, but decided against it. I realized that I had little chance of advancing beyond AA ball, if that. While I occassionally have instances where I wonder "what if", I'm immensely thankful it's about baseball and from my current position. I could have been broke, and physically unemployable thinking "what if" about a fire department career. I'll be happy to play ball with my grandkids.

    You could do a lot worse than a fire department career. Whatever your decision, best of luck to ya.
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    thanks for the responses! I sit wondering if I will see my wife/kids more or less then I would now if I were a firefighter? My wife is a pilot and can pretty much get what she wants schedule wise because of senoirity so I think I will actually have more time for her then I do with my 5-6 days a week with the construction business.

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    California departments mostly work some variation of 24 on / 48 off...sometimes 24 on / 24 off / 24 on / 24 off / 24 on / 72 off...

    Or as Bou will soon add 48 on / 96 off.

    Just remember to balance that with the knowledge while some shifts are easy, as Gonzo says they don't pay you for what you do...you're paid for what you might do -- and they'll be the 24 hour days you never sleep (hell, I've done more than one of those on the volunteer side!!!)...heck, barely rest and will come home, and crawl into bed wondering how the sun can still be so bright behind the 3/4" plywood you just reinforced the shades with

    Frankly...my opinion is as long as your finances allow, go for what you'll enjoy. Life is too short to be miserable, it's too short even to just leave your dreams for the middle of the night. Too many Americans have gotten themselves into the position of living paycheck to paycheck because they tried to buy happiness.

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    Believe me I know that there is a whole bunch of hard work which lies ahead. That will not be a problem, I help manage 80-90 employees and run myself ragged. I would prefer to come to work excited and make less money compared to dreading work and making a killing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dalmatian190
    California departments mostly work some variation of 24 on / 48 off...sometimes 24 on / 24 off / 24 on / 24 off / 24 on / 72 off...

    Or as Bou will soon add 48 on / 96 off.

    No, no, no! Like maybe only one FD out of hundreds work that lame 24/48 schedule. Most work the 3/4s or 2x4.

    First- California is a different animal than some of the other states. So as you have seen, the answer might vary a little.

    To answer your question, if you want the job bad enough, there is no question. But now your talking California and thats different that the rest of the state. As for the money- Forget about it. I might be a hipocrite because most FFs in my FD make 100k and up. But me, I wouldnt focus on the money, you can work the family business on the side if you need to. Just focus on getting the job and the money will fall into place.

    And think about the retirement. We have one of the best in the nation. Think retirement verse the big $$$ now.

    You need to really get tuned up for the testing here and get serious about being a medic.

    Please feel free to PM me and we can chat more....Bou
    Last edited by CALFFBOU; 06-20-2006 at 04:23 AM.

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    Talking

    I took a significant pay cut to do this FT. It was the best thing I ever did. My quality of life rose immensely. Instead of rolling over and groaning whent he alarm clock wakes me, I jump out of bed and want to go to work! In 10 years OTJ I still **** my girlfriend off when I jump up to go to work, because very few jobs have that effect on people.

    As for a pay cut in CA. What a joke, many firefighters in California makes twice what Officers make on the East Coast. I met some great guys from the Left Coast in D.C a few years ago, their proby was making twice what I was as an LT. And the cost of living thing wasn't as far off as I thought. Basically it seems that Californians recognize that firefighters ought to be paid well for the job they do, wheree as the rest of the country loves us during or right after a crisis and wonders alound why we're needed at tax time.

    All in all though, nothing's better! I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat except start sooner and go for a degree in Public Admin.

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    Don't expect to apply on a friday and get hired on monday. This could take you YEARS to get on. The average person takes several years at the LEAST. I am sure it is even more competetive in CA. It took me almost FIVE years to the day. I took at least a dozen tests per year, and tested in several states. However, it was well worth it, and I couldn't emagine doing anything else. By far the best job in the world.

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    I also took 50% or more paycut almost 5 years ago when I hired on with the FD.. This was after working 6 plus years for Coke.... But I allways wanted be a Firefighter and when the time came and they had few openings here I took one them and have never looked back... Now for first couple years the money was tight, but the wife and I made it work... I now have 2 great kids with 3rd on the way (allgirls) nice house out in country on 2 arces and couldn't ask for more...

    Now for working we have the normal 24 on and 48 off... Now coming from working pretty sunup to sundown for coke 5 to 6 days a week for all those years... I find and feel that I have more time than ever to spend with my family now and wife feels the same...

    Now for getting hired on with a FD...You need to get busy if this is what you really want... It took me 6 years of taking test before I got that call...


    Jason

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    Thanks for the inside guys! I have a lot on my plate as I keep thinking about my happiness versus putting my family and the business in a tough situation to go along with all the what ifs! I know once I make my decision I'll be happy and feel at ease, plus it's not like my working with the family will come to a hault right away, but instead easing out a couple years while I do my schooling and wait until I get hired

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    Count me as another who took a pay cut to be a FT firefighter.

    There's nothing like having a job you look forward to going to and a family you look forward to coming back to.

    Your family life as a firefighter will be different than what you have now. It's best to discuss it now. You know the drill about not being home for Christmas, a birthday, a ballgame, etc., but your family can (and will) adapt if they support your decision.
    ullrichk
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    I'm not sure what inspired me, whether it be frustration at my current job, a call from the above, something else, or a mixture of all three, but the reason I wake up every day is to get a career started in firefighting. I have literally just begun as I will be going to go for my EMT class in the fall, and hopefully take volunteer firefighting lessons. What gets me excited is that getting the position is so competitive. I've also never heard anyone complain about their jobs, despite the high risks that are involved.

    I respect you all.

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    It sounds like you work for a living now, the fire service is a huge change, I'd try to work part time or paid on call. You may have the most loving and understanding, supportive family in the world, but entering the fireservice with both feet and leaving a well paying career will put a strain on things.
    The kids will get sick, act out, things around the house will break, school functions etc will all happen while you are on duty.
    I've been to my wife's brothers house for stuff exactly twice in 7 years because they schedule stuff on my shift day. Now that doesn't bother her but other scheduling things do.
    The time off is great, I spend a ton of time with my kids and we can go on vacation without much headache whenever we want (seniority). But every once in a while their is problems. Make sure your family knows what life will be like, because it is not justy you entering the fireservice it is your entire family.

    I hope I didn't scare, you but the divorce rate is high enough in the fireservice, you need to be informed. Good Luck. It is the most rewarding career you could ever have.

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    PSSSSTTTTT: City manager: even though our Union argues for pay raises and rightfullly so, I would do thid job for 10K less than I do now. Does that say anything?

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    The only thing I have to say is that you can do it on your days off. I work 24 hours on and then have 48 hours off. That's a lot of time to work with your family business and plus you have a career that you will most likely love. Most other firefighters I know have a part time job on there days off anyway. So if firefighting is something you have always wanted, DO IT!!!

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    I agree, I need not worry about making ends meet so to speak, (because they will) I can still work the family business or use my mortgage brokers license too I meet with a Captain at one of the local stations on Monday and can't wait! I plan on drafting up all sorts of questions to ask. Should be very telling!

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    Quote Originally Posted by CALFFBOU
    No, no, no! But now your talking California and thats different that the rest of the state.....Bou
    Is there more than one California in Cali Bou?

    Not to throw this thing off course or nuthing... but will you PM me Bou? I've got CA FD questions...

    Thanks!

    PS: Take the pay cut and jump into the FD! You'll NEVER regret it!
    FTM-PTB-RFB-EGH

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    Successful IT career, lots of travel, tons of $$$, but I gave it all up. My passion for the fire service was fostered during my time as a volley (which I still do... what does that tell you about some people and the fire service).

    It has been an adjustment, I don't go out to the fancy restaurants as often, I don't spend as much on clothing, and I had say good-bye to my fancy sports car aspirations.. But all worth it. Nice to have time back in my life!!! I work 4 10s which I love; I started my pt business on the side and supplement my lower pay very well now. Most important, I like my job. I donít feel as stressed, I like to get dirty and do some work. Getting an hour or so a day to hit the gym on paid time is nice as well, and can tell you that is adding quality of life. I get allot more time with my family and I am able to get caught up on all those things I have been putting off.

    Good Luck, it more than a job to some of us.
    Last edited by cjennings; 06-22-2006 at 09:07 AM.
    [FONT=Garamond]Asst. Chief Chris Jennings

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    Quote Originally Posted by wag11c
    PSSSSTTTTT: City manager: even though our Union argues for pay raises and rightfullly so, I would do thid job for 10K less than I do now. Does that say anything?
    Yes, it does.

    Don't give the mutts any ideas!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Do what feels right. Yes, the pay is not as much as a business but will you be happier? see your family more? be less stressed out and therfore healthier?

    Option #1: you could go full time and still work at the business on days off. Most firefighters work 10-15 days a month. Most full time firefighters have a second or even third job they work just to keep themselves active and get rid of the boredom. You will have all kinds of time to make more money with working overtime, longeviity, and higher rank and higher skill levels.

    Option #2: You could still stay full time in your business but join a local volunteer fire dept. This gives you something to try, to get a taste of what it is like. You get training and experience. If you like it, you work towards full time. If not, then you can stay and be happy as a vollie or quit alltogether.

    either way, you get the best of both worlds. Ask your kids. Sometimes they are not clouded by opinions and give the best, truthful answers.

    Good luck and keep us posted.
    Jason Knecht
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    Altoona Fire Dept.
    Altoona, WI

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    EAT CHEESE OR DIE!!

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    This job is simply the best pay-cut I ever took.

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    I like your thought Dickey! I was curious if anyone knew of how the California Paramdeic Institute was recieved? It's under www.cpi.com. I was looking under them and Daniel Freeman. Thanks!

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    www.cpimedic.com I mean......sorry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bolts21
    I like your thought Dickey!
    That will be free of charge!!!

    Maybe Bou can help with "Kalleyfornia" laws and regulations.
    Jason Knecht
    Assistant Chief
    Altoona Fire Dept.
    Altoona, WI

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    EAT CHEESE OR DIE!!

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