1. #1
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    Default Newb from Blacksburg, VA

    Hey everyone! I've been a long term lurker (3+ years). I'm a non-active EMT-B, I volunteered for about 5 years starting in 2000 at a vollie rescue squad, and worked for a year at Richmond Ambulance. I moved away and haven't been riding since I moved, so I'm pretty out of the loop.

    I have been out on my own for a bit now, trying to decide where I want to go with my life. I have a lot of pressure to be someone I'm not sure I want to be. My parents want me to be an aerospace engineer or a doctor. I went to school for a few years on and off for engineering and I liked it, I've always loved aviation. But when I got to my calculus II class, I realized I hate math and suck at it beyond calc I. So there goes engineering. Doctor? Bleh...no comment on that. Something that has always interested me is fire fighting. I've had quite a lot of exposure to firefighters over the past couple years, but it never really hit me as something I could do. Would I like to? Heck yeah! Who wouldn't?! Something that drew me away was the requirement for color vision. I am color deficient, but not nearly color blind. I can tell reds from greens for the most part except on things like aviation maps where the shades practically blend together. In other words, that stupid book with the dots and numbers kicks my butt.

    So I've been afraid that I wouldn't stand a chance when it came time to do that test. Well, here I am in Blacksburg facing a fork in the road. My options are nursing or firefighting. Because I went to school for engineering, I'm starting from scratch in either path. I have about 70 credits to my name, so that's great, but in terms of relevance to either career path - maybe 15 or so credits apply.

    I just turned in my application to the vollie fire dept here in Blacksburg. It seems REALLY awesome - great group of people, great equipment, great trucks...GREAT PLACE TO LEARN. I'm so excited. AND...they pay 100% of the cost to take fire-related classes. I spoke with 2 different people and they both said they'd definitely take me in because of my prior experience and I like to think I come off as a down-to-earth guy who isn't full of himself and realizes he knows nothing and is willing to learn.

    SO...with this all being said, and I do believe I've lost my train of thought because I got a phone call in the middle of this and totally forget where I was going with it all... I think I want to be a firefighter. Career. In all of my confusion of where I want to go in life, there is one anchor. I love helping people. Not many things in life can beat that feeling. I'd be happy as a career firefighter, I think.

    So here I am, on my way, finally time to register on the forum and become an annoying probie asking questions (if the search feature comes up empty).

    If this post makes no sense, my excuses are as follows:
    1. Phone call, lost train of thought.
    2. AC broken, 50,000,000,000,000 degrees celsius.
    3. Cat sitting on keyboard, constant battle between me and cat, and cat and mouse pointer on screen.

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    You might be suprised how many college credits would transfer to a Fire Protection Engineering degree. There are several different universities which offer this type of degree. Locally (for me in NC), UNC-Charlotte has this degree as part of the College of Engineering. Other schools include: University of Maryland, University of Maryland University College (UMUC), Oklahoma State University, Eastern Kentucky U.. just to name a few. Searching the forums for Fire Science Degrees or Bachelor Degrees will certainly help. I'm sure most would agree that if you want to make a career in the Fire Service, a degree will certainly help carry you far in your career. Not that a degree will ensure you a job, but once you get a job, a degree will help you promote.

    Seems like you're starting on the right track with volunteering at the local fire department.
    Do it because you love it, not because you love being seen doing it.

  3. #3
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    First, welcome aboard.

    For what it's worth, we have a number of firefighters in my career department (down here in the Richmond area) that are not only FF/EMT-P's, but are also RN's. Gives you a good, broad idea of what both fire & EMS is about, and gives you a pretty good resume' for things such as flight medic/flight nurse.

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    I think I'll go that route...become an RN sometime. But I'd like to get started with the firefighting first, and I am already looking into UMD for a degree in Fire Protection (I know, doesn't help me get a job, helps me get promoted, etc etc). While I'm working as a firefighter, I'll take classes for RN sometime in the future.

    Is a firefighter/RN same as a firefighter/Medic? I know there are differences in medic/RN, but how much of that holds true to FFs? I know for ambulances it's a big difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AstroMatt
    Is a firefighter/RN same as a firefighter/Medic? I know there are differences in medic/RN, but how much of that holds true to FFs? I know for ambulances it's a big difference.
    I've never heard of departments having Firefighter/RNs. The RN cert. would be good if you wanted to work as a Flight Nurse or Ground Transport Nurse 'on the side.' Or for that fact, work as any type of nurse. I work with a few guys that also work as Flight Medics (not fire department related). Generally, the Flight Nurses get paid more than Flight Medics (even though there is much controversy about this) and there are many more opportunities available to RNs. I'd like to get my RN down the road.. and eventually work for a 'Life Flight' type program.
    Do it because you love it, not because you love being seen doing it.

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    I'd love to do the flight medic thing. I've flown on VCU LifeEvac a couple of times because I used to work at the airport where they were based and fueled them all the time (and when I was an active EMT).



    I LOOOOVE flying...but can't be a pilot because, again, color vision.

    So something to look into - like you mentioned, some firefighters fly on the side.

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    BoxAlarm187's Avatar
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    No, our guys aren't employed as Firefighter/RN's - they're FF/PM's who happen to do the RN thing on thier days off (and get paid handsomely for it!). A couple of 'em even zip around Central Virginia on the very helo that you posted.

    It's a good thing you realize that the fire science degree will not necessairly help with getting on with a career department, but will certainly help when promotional times come along. In one of our previous recruit schools of 30 people, we had recruits with everything from GED's to Master's Degrees. The fire service certainly is changing!

    UMD is a good choice. I work with a number of guys who got thier degree from there, and most of them participated in a live-in program with one of the local VFD's in Prince George's County. Lots of experience to be had by going that route.

    It sounds like you have a pretty good head on your shoulders, I'm sure you'll be successful in whatever route you take.

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    Thanks for the reply Box. Where do you work? Chesterfield?

    You know, if I had a good head on my shoulders, I would have been somewhere already instead of 23 and changing my mind every 5 seconds about what I want to do. I wouldn't have given in to the pressure of "needing" a degree that will earn me $100,000+ per year. All this time I needed something to do where I would never work a day in my life - something I would really enjoy and love. I think we all know what it is (firefighting/medic stuff), but I just couldn't accept it in fear of letting everyone down. Ah well, time to step up and be a man!

    Ah well, time to get to bed (just got home from work...), gotta wake up in a bit to work extra time at my job that I absolutely hate.

    Oh, and as corny as it sounds, I made a pro/con list at work today for different career paths, and was as honest with it as I could be. #1 choice was firefighter. #2 was nurse. #3 engineer. 2 and 3 didn't even come close to choice #1 in terms of number of pros, and #1 had far fewer cons.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187
    UMD is a good choice. I work with a number of guys who got thier degree from there, and most of them participated in a live-in program with one of the local VFD's in Prince George's County. Lots of experience to be had by going that route.
    If I could go back and do things over, I would be a live-in in PG County and getting my degree up there. I went and looked at several departments and the programs up there and I must say, I was truly impressed with their set-up. Besides the fact that you can get an endless amount of experience up there.
    Do it because you love it, not because you love being seen doing it.

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    What exactly is the live-in?

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    Quote Originally Posted by AstroMatt
    What exactly is the live-in?
    To quote directly from one of the PG County websites:
    Residential (Live-In) Recruitment



    If you are a student pursuing a higher education with experience in the fire/ems fields and you are interested in becoming part of a fast-paced emergency services environment, then becoming a live-in at Hyattsville may be for you.

    We are located near the University of Maryland, University of Maryland University College, Prince Georges Community College, and Montgomery Community College. We are also a short Metro ride to Catholic and George Washington Universities, and are along the University of Maryland shuttle route.

    General Requirements are Firefighter I, EMT-B and the ability to pass a thorough background check and physical examination performed by the Prince George's County Fire Department.

    The live-in complement averages about 12-16 male and female members each semester. Living space is provided free in return for responding to calls at least four nights per week, among other requirements.

    Current bunkroom members come from all over the country: Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Colorado, Virginia, Iowa, New York, Massachusetts and elsewhere. Former bunkroom members have gone on to jobs throughout America's fire service. Many former live-ins are also amongst today's HVFD leadership.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Residential Benefits

    The Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Dept. is continually accepting applications for the position of Student/Non-Student Residential Firefighter/EMT. Here are additional benefits for residential members ...

    Free Room, sleeping areas, separate male/female living quarters
    Experience with a busy, progressive Fire/EMS Organization
    Tuition Reimbursement Program (through County/State)
    Easy Access for Students via Metrorail (just one stop from College Park and minutes from Catholic University and other D.C. campuses. and along University of Maryland shuttle and Metrobus routes
    Expanded living, kitchen and study space in proposed addition
    Extensive research library and resources for students
    and Much, Much More
    Also, if you search "Live-in" on the forums you're bound to find countless numbers of topics relating to the program. Also, here is a link to Hyattsville Fire Department ( www.hvfd.com ). They are one of many stations in the PG County Fire Department. Click on 'Links' and just about every station in PG County has the Live-in program, just some aren't as close to UMD as say.. Hyattsville or College Park. Also, Hwoods is a member on these boards and is an Asst. Chief (if I'm not mistaken) at a department in PG County. He'd be a good resource to talk with.
    Do it because you love it, not because you love being seen doing it.

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    After checking Hyattsville's links, it appears that Kentland has more PG County Stations listed. Here is the link. (The PG County departments are about halfway down.)
    Do it because you love it, not because you love being seen doing it.

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    Thanks a lot!!! I'll look into it and keep you guys informed. Looks like I'll have to get my FF1 first before I even qualify - seems very competitive to get a spot.

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    BoxAlarm187's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AstroMatt
    Thanks for the reply Box. Where do you work? Chesterfield?
    Nah, across the river...

    You know, if I had a good head on my shoulders, I would have been somewhere already instead of 23 and changing my mind every 5 seconds about what I want to do. I wouldn't have given in to the pressure of "needing" a degree that will earn me $100,000+ per year. All this time I needed something to do where I would never work a day in my life - something I would really enjoy and love. I think we all know what it is (firefighting/medic stuff), but I just couldn't accept it in fear of letting everyone down. Ah well, time to step up and be a man!
    I was pretty much in the same situation as you. Although I don't have the mastery of numbers to be an engineer (my dad's been a physical engineer for 40+ years, but it didn't rub off on me! ), my parents really wanted to see me do something with my life, and to them that often equalled making big money.

    From early on, I told them that I wasn't worried about the money that I brought home, but the only thing I truly wanted out of life was to have a job that I looked forward to going to everyday. They respected that, and I have had the luck to be very sucessful in my career (and volunteer for that matter) fire department. My parents came to the realization that as long as I was happy, they were too.

    Okay, enough of the sappiness...

    Ever heard the saying from FDNY? "Still the best damn job in the world." And it is.

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    I didn't apply to UMD, but I did apply to the Jefferson College of Health Sciences in Roanoke for their Fire and EMS Technology degree. I'll leave there with the degree, EMT-I cert and FF1. Sounds like a good start.

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    Default MD is an exellent program

    I'm a graduate of the University of Maryland. One thing that does not get much advertisement is that you can pay in-state tuition at Maryland through the Acedemic Common Market. This is a program that allows students from states that don't offer a particular program to attend another state school for in-state tuition. See the link:
    http://www.sreb.org/programs/acm/sea...45&DegreeID=21

    States that participate for FPE are, Virginia, Arkansas, Deleware, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennesse. some states only paarticipate at the Grad Level, like Florida. I checked for freind and the administraator added Arkansas in a day; so other states may participate with just a phone call. But you must take classes at the campus, not on-line to get in-state tuition.

    While a degree in FPE will not get you the job as a firefighter will not hurt you. It will also prepare you for a career after you retire or on the side. I know a fella that works for DC FD and works for a consulting comapany on his days off. Another FPE is the Captain for the DC Hazmat Team.

    I won't lie that the math and science isn't tough; the only thing that got me through was the knowledge that guys dumber than myself got through. But I think the program sets you up to be succeful in whatever you do in the future. There are Maryland Grads at pharmaceutical, The Veterans Administration, Army Corp of Engineers, fire departments and us consultants.

    I understand that a bunch of the student's that live-in at College Park VFD want to get jobs with PG County FD. They have a 20 year retirement there.

    What I like about consulting is that I come to work and solve problems. I don't sit around the firehouse and wait for the Klaxon to go off.

    Obviously I'm a big proponent of U of MD, FPE. Let me know if you want any more info.

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