1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber

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    Jun 2006

    Default questions for firefighters.........

    After taking a lot of time thinking and talking to the wife, I have decided to make a career change into fire from my M-F executive job(make great money), and know I'll be happy when my goal is met. I wanted to know what was the biggest obstacle or hurddle you faced after being fully hired(family,wife, emotionally, etc...)? Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Doc1411's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Glenside, PA

    Default In the same boat

    I made that same decision a few years ago and just landed my first career FF position. I am looking forward to my new career but have yet to see how it will affect my family life. I'll be on a 24/72 shift so I am not expecting too much difficulty. Good luck in your search.

  3. #3
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    HeavyRescueTech's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    New Jersey


    just out of curiosity, have you already been hired by a full time career department? One of the hardest things I have seen and heard from people is not how difficult the job is, but rather how time consuming it can be to actually get hired (testing everywhere, jumping through all the hoops to get hired, and eventually getting the offer).

    more than that, I would say having the family adjust to the new pay scale (especially if there is a signicant decrease in your income), as well as an increased time away from your family, particularly the overnights, weekends and holidays.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!


  4. #4
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    btrotta's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Enfield, CT

    Default I made the leap.

    There are several big steps you'll have to make to transition from a career in the business world to a career in the fire service.

    First, you have to make the committment to get hired. As others have said, that can be a full-time job in itself, with all the testing, interviews, CPATs, psych exams, etc that you have to do.

    You have to decide, do you want a fire only job or fire/ems. Where you want to work may decide that for you. If your dream department does EMS, guess what you'll be doing?

    If EMS is in your future, it will pay for you to start your training now, before you quit your office job. Get your EMT, work part-time on the weekends for a local ambulance service to get some experience. That will prepare you for what you'll face in your new career and help you decide if this really is what you want to do.

    It will also help you decide if you want to try becoming a paramedic. In some cities, your medic cert will put you at the head of the hiring line. But medic school is another big committment that will eat away at your family time. Expect to spend 20 hours a week in class/labs/clinicals and an equal amount studying.

    Your next big adjustment comes when you get hired. Likely you'll be shipped off to probie school somewhere for 2-3 months. Some places let you go home every night, others treat it like boot camp and you're there for the duration.

    When you graduate and get that shiny new badge, get ready for the biggest transition of all. No more 9-5, M-F work week. It's a blessing and a curse at the same time. You have lots more time off, but regular holidays and weekends don't exist for you anymore. That's one of the biggest adjustments. Your wife is off on Saturdays and Sundays, and you're off Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday one week and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday the next. Plus, you'll be away from home at least two nights a week.

    Be ready to miss the kids Little League games and recitals on the days you work and know that Christmas and Thanksgiving may have to switch dates and times on the years you work the holidays.

    All that can put a big strain on a marriage. Be sure your wife is aware of the schedules. And when you do get hired, make an effort to have at least one day a week just for you two.

    As others have mentioned, you will definitely have to get used to the cut in pay. Unless you're one of those guys who made a couple of million in the markets and can live off the interest alone, you're in for some big lifestyle changes. Be sure you can afford your current home and cars on $40K a year. You may have to downsize, or move to a more affordable neighborhood.

    Of course, there's always overtime available to supplement your pay. But some departments limit the overtime that probies can make, others prohibit probies from taking extra shifts alltogether. Overtime also eats into family time and the lure of easy money can often put a big strain on a family unless they are willing to put up with it.

    In short, taking up firefighting, like any other career change, is a big decision. It's one you need to discuss thoroughly with yourself and your family (kids included) so that everyone knows what to expect when you get hired.

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