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Thread: Education?

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    Default Education?

    Hey Everyone,

    Does anyone know how much of a role education plays in the hiring process? I have a BS in exercise science and a MS in kinesiology/exercise physiology. Will this help me out at all, I plan on applying to a few different departments in SW AZ. Any information will be helpful.

    Thanks
    Justin


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    Thank you Mr. Lepore for your response, I appreciate that you took time out of your busy day. From your responce I gather that since my BS will be an adantage I can only assume that my Masters degree can only help me out that much more. As you know it is a comptetative market out there and I wil take any advantage I can get!

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    Yes, a Bachelor's degree will absolutely help you out. It is not, however, a substitute for getting FIRE SCIENCE education and training.

    Here are some thoughts on education:

    The Importance of Education
    On the surface it may seem that education is not important for a firefighter. This is very far from the truth for several reasons. First of all, firefighters have evolved from “put the wet stuff on the red stuff,” to being in charge of major hazardous materials, weapons of mass destruction incidents, or determining paramedic level care on a gravely ill or injured patient. What do all of these incidents have in common? Each discipline requires knowledge of physics and chemistry, of course!
    Secondly, firefighters are required to write a report (which is also a legal document) that summarizes every emergency response. These reports are a direct reflection of the report writer. If a report is filled with grammatical and punctuation errors, the credibility of the writer is brought into question. Firefighters are often asked to testify in a court of law as to what occurred. A firefighter who authors a report riddled with errors will certainly lose credibility with the audience.
    Firefighters negotiate their salaries with the city, county or board. The more educated the firefighters are in the political process, the better they will fare at the bargaining table. This ultimately translates into better wages, benefits and working conditions.
    Is a Bachelor’s Degree required prior to getting hired? The answer is no, or at least not in most places. Most departments require a high school diploma or a GED certificate. Why is there such a wide range of education levels for entry-level firefighters? It’s really quite simple. The person making the hiring decisions sets the tone as to the importance of education. If the fire chief cherishes education, you can bet he or she will expect the entry-level firefighters to have a degree (or at least be actively working toward one) prior to getting hired. If, on the other hand, he or she is more mechanically inclined, education may not be a priority. These organizational priorities change as the fire chief retires, and the new fire chief will set his or her own priorities.
    I began taking my fire science courses shortly after having graduated from high school. I entered the fire science program at the local junior college, taking the 6 fire science and EMT prerequisite classes for the basic fire academy. I completed the courses in two semesters and one summer session, then entered the fire academy. Upon graduation from the fire academy, and armed with 30 units of fire science courses, I started picking away at my Associate of Science Degree in fire science. I was fortunate enough to be hired at 20 years old by the Los Angeles City Fire Department as a single function paramedic. Eighteen months later, I was hired by Long Beach as a firefighter.
    I had great intentions of completing my Associate’s Degree and ultimately my Bachelor’s Degree. A promotion to firefighter/paramedic and ultimately to Captain, starting a business, becoming a husband, father, and author has put my educational plans on hold. In short, the rigors of dealing with everyday life as a firefighter and the shifting schedule made it difficult to continue my education. Is this an excuse? No way. I firmly believe that anything can be accomplished once you set your mind to it. For me it just never became a big priority. In addition, my department did not stress education.
    Is it possible to get your education after getting hired on a fire department? By all means, yes. My brother Mark is also a firefighter. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree while working shift work as a firefighter. He did his research and found a handful of instructors who were “firefighter” friendly. These instructors have a reputation for emphasizing the productivity of the student rather than hours spent in a classroom. An instructor who understands the rigors of a firefighter’s schedule certainly can make the difference in whether or not a firefighter successfully completes a degree.
    In today’s day and age, the advent of the Internet makes it possible for a student to complete a course regardless of the time or location. There are numerous colleges which now offer fire science courses online. These are the perfect solution for a working person with a family who struggles to get into a structured class. The student does not have to worry about getting off work early, fighting traffic, paying for parking, or finding a babysitter for the kids. Online courses accommodate all schedules, since it does not matter what time of the day or night a student “logs in” to participate in the discussion centers. In my opinion, there is now no excuse for a person applying to fire departments not to have his or her education.
    In many areas of the country an Associate’s Degree is the standard. If a candidate does not have one, the evaluator’s eyebrows are raised to question why he or she has not taken the time to earn one. In a few communities it is even required before taking the entry-level exam.
    Many new firefighters often have more advanced degrees. Although this depends on a myriad of different circumstances, it seems there is certainly a strong trend in this direction.
    Where do these more highly educated candidates come from? Are these the same fire science students found in the average fire science courses? No, commonly they are people who obtained a degree to enter the professional workforce as a teacher, computer specialist, stockbroker, or some other profession, but decided they were dissatisfied in their profession. In short, they decided on a career change.
    As a general rule these candidates are older than the typical applicant. This is substantiated by the fact that they spent 4 years in school earning their degree, followed immediately by several years in the workforce before deciding they missed their calling. These candidates have learned the value of hard work and determination. Unfortunately, their career choice was not satisfying for them. Oftentimes they have learned that money is not the most important thing after all. They have discovered that although firefighters do not make a great deal of money (enough to be comfortable), a firefighter’s job satisfaction rating is very high.
    Once these candidates “round out” their education with fire science courses and a fire academy, a department quickly snaps them up. These candidates fit the profile perfectly of the older candidate who loves his or her job and excels in the fire service. Fire departments across the country have keyed into these candidates and hire them at their first opportunity. A candidate who has worked in another profession usually makes a strong firefighter, as he or she knows what it’s like to work in a job in which there is minimal job satisfaction. Being a firefighter is a far cry from being trapped behind a desk in a cubicle.
    A firefighter with experience as a drafter, computer technician or some other technical field brings a great new dimension to the fire service. Where once firefighters struggled with computers or prefire plans, the modern firefighter is able to create a computer generated mock up of a building. These plans include locations of hazardous materials, storage of company records as well as locations of fire department standpipe and sprinkler connections. The value that these drawings bring to an incident commander huddled around the command post is immeasurable. All of this because the fire chief elected to hire a firefighter with some computer experience.
    Most firefighter candidates should aspire to complete at least an Associate’s Degree. Standard prerequisites such as math, English and writing are naturally required. Although it varies from college to college, the required courses usually include Introduction to Fire Science, Physics and Chemistry for Firefighters, Firefighter Safety, Fire Prevention, Building Construction, Fire Sprinkler Extinguishing Systems, Physical Fitness for Firefighters and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).
    Introduction to Fire Science teaches the student the basics of how the fire service works. It covers the difference between a fire engine and a fire truck, a captain and a chief. The course usually involves a class project in which the student is required to knock on the door of a fire station and research a firefighter’s job description, regular duties and responsibilities throughout the course of his or her shift, the pay and benefit schedule.
    Upon completion of the project, the student knows exactly what a firefighter does in the course of his or her shift, and how he or she is compensated. This course is the basic framework that will give a student the confidence to walk into a fire station anywhere around the country and understand the basic terminology and operations that all fire departments follow.
    Physics and Chemistry (sometimes called “fire chemistry”) breaks down the chemical processes of how a fire starts, and most importantly, how it can be extinguished. The course covers the different classifications of fire and the basics of fire behavior. It covers the law of heat transfer and clearly delineates how a fire spreads throughout a structure or a forest. The more a firefighter understands the way a fire spreads, the better he or she will be able to combat and ultimately extinguish it. The course teaches the student to interpret and explain the labels present on all fire extinguishers.
    Physics and Chemistry also provides a basic foundation for dealing with hazardous materials. Since there are so many toxic chemicals present in smoke (the byproduct of combustion), it is essential that a firefighter understands how it affects him or her. Firefighters are usually the initial response agency for hazardous materials incidents. This means that a firefighter must be trained to recognize the dangers, and what needs to be done to minimize the adverse effects on the citizens of a community, their property and the environment.
    Firefighter safety is a critical part of our profession. Statistics show that there is a strong probability that during the course of a career, a firefighter is going to miss time from his or her work due to a job-related injury. Being a firefighter is undisputedly one of the most hazardous occupations in the country. The Firefighter Safety course will teach students the importance of wearing safety equipment. It will examine firefighter death and injury investigations, and seek to identify how each incident could have ended positively, instead of in tragedy.
    Fire Prevention is also an important part of a firefighter’s assignment. After all, most mission statements have a reference to preventing fires before they occur. A firefighter must be able to walk into a place of business and identify things that are in violation of the Uniform Fire Code. Our intent is not to write citations, but rather to get the business owner to rectify the potential fire causing violation. As a firefighter our salaries are paid by thriving businesses in the community. Our objective is to make the businesses “fire safe” so they can continue to employ the citizens of our community and contribute to the tax base. The Fire Prevention course will teach the aspiring firefighter the basics of the fire code as well as many of the most common violations encountered by firefighters. In addition, it teaches the student how and why firefighters have the authority to enter a business, make recommendations and ultimately mandate that a business comply with the established fire codes.
    Building Construction is one of the most important classes a firefighter candidate will take. It is critical that a firefighter understand the basics of how buildings are put together, as many are killed or injured when buildings unexpectedly fall when subjected to fire. Students should be able to name all of the structural members used in the construction of a house or apartment building, as well as how large warehouses are constructed.
    The more a firefighter understands what happens to different structural members during extreme situations, the more he or she can predict when a building will fail. With the advent of engineered trusses to support roof structures, many new buildings will predictably fail as early as 8 minutes when subjected to fire. This is usually about the time the firefighters have laid their lines and are making their initial attack on the fire. The Building Construction course will teach the student how to predict the longevity of each common building style.
    Fire extinguishing systems are an integral part of how a firefighter attacks a fire. If a building has built-in systems that assist the fire department to extinguish the fire, minimize injury and reduce property damage, it is understood that the firefighters will be proficient in their use. The Fire Sprinkler Extinguishing System course teaches the student exactly how a fire sprinkler system operates and how to best use it to augment the firefighting efforts. Students will be tasked with designing a fire extinguishing sprinkler system for a large warehouse using industry standard formulas.
    Emergency Medical Technician training is a critical part of a firefighter’s training. Since the majority of a fire department’s emergency responses are EMS related (often as high as 90%), it is imperative that a firefighter is a proficient EMT. An EMT is able to splint fractures, take vital signs, and place victims in cervical spine stabilization as well as perform a myriad of other responsibilities relating to patient care.
    EMT is a 106-hour course. Although it may be offered within the context of the fire academy, EMT training should be taken before a student enters the fire academy. Since there is so much memorization required in the course, it is much easier if a student completes an EMT course prior to entering the academy. This is not an area an aspiring firefighter should be weak in.
    A candidate who has a strong educational background will be much more attractive to fire departments. Although many firefighters are hired with little or no education, a candidate who has a degree will have a distinct competitive advantage.


    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com

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    If nobody else will say it I will,

    Paramedic

    some might say it would be worth more than school

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    Quote Originally Posted by SubWay1
    If nobody else will say it I will,

    Paramedic

    some might say it would be worth more than school
    I'm confused, are you saying being a paramedic may be more important than school. Or that I should try being a paramedic? Sorry for the ignorance

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    Quote Originally Posted by fitleader
    I'm confused, are you saying being a paramedic may be more important than school. Or that I should try being a paramedic? Sorry for the ignorance
    Having the Paramedic Certification is HUGE for getting hired at many departments. Maybe more so than 4 year degree in unrelated field.

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    Quote Originally Posted by angelicknight
    Having the Paramedic Certification is HUGE for getting hired at many departments. Maybe more so than 4 year degree in unrelated field.
    Ask yourself who is getting the badges? In case you haven’t noticed there is an army out there trying to get a badge that have EMT, FF1 academy, working on or have an AA or AS, BS degrees, volunteer experience and every other merit badge you can think of.

    Even with your degree and an EMT you will only be able to take around 20% of the tests out there depending on your area.

    Where are up to 80% of the job offerings?

    Answer: Fire/medics

    There are up to 800 candidates chasing each firefighter job. How many are chasing a fire/medic job?

    Answer: 12-20. Which odds do you like better?
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    Just want the job? Go for the Medic. Want to go far in the job? Get the BA/BS.
    Be for Peace, but don't be for the Enemy!
    -Big Russ

    Learn from the mistakes of others; you won't live long enough to make them all yourself.

    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl View Post
    LOL....dont you people have anything else to do besides b*tch about our b*tching?

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    One of the best postings I have seen regarding BA/BSs- Do NOT hammer the oral board with it. Do not make it your main platform. Seen it done lots of times.

    Keep your oral balanced. Show the education blended in with other life experiences and training.

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    Dennis,
    Your post is right on the money.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CALFFBOU
    One of the best postings I have seen regarding BA/BSs- Do NOT hammer the oral board with it. Do not make it your main platform. Seen it done lots of times.

    Keep your oral balanced. Show the education blended in with other life experiences and training.
    What about education/training in general?

    The last oral interview that I went on it came up one of the points I made was I was eager and willing to keep learning. Was this the right or wrong approach?

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    Default Absolutely!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Firefighter2230
    What about education/training in general?

    The last oral interview that I went on it came up one of the points I made was I was eager and willing to keep learning. Was this the right or wrong approach?
    Absolutely the right approach. You wouldn't have much of a chance if the raters picked up you weren't.

    Keep in mind you have to get the J-O-B first to use a degree. How are you going get the badge? Where are you going to get the most bang for your buck? Where are you going to get the most opportunities to test? What skill set is going to make it happen before you run out of time, money, relationships and friends?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firefighter2230
    What about education/training in general?

    The last oral interview that I went on it came up one of the points I made was I was eager and willing to keep learning. Was this the right or wrong approach?
    Please go back and read my posting again. I said- "Keep your oral balanced. Show the education blended in with other life experiences and training."

    Do not go in and bring up the BA/BS degree on every question. Balance, must have balance.

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    Double post.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CALFFBOU
    Do not go in and bring up the BA/BS degree on every question. Balance, must have balance.
    John came in for a coaching session after not being able to pass any oral boards. He was one of those candidates who I think was misguided into a Public Administration Degree. During his coaching, he kept trying to come back to his degree. I finally told him, "Screw you! You want to come into my oral board and try to hammer me with a degree you may never use?" You’re applying for a snotty nose rookie position as a firefighter!" John dropped his head and said, "Maybe that’s why I can’t get through any orals."

    John ended up going to paramedic school (which he should have considered first if he really wanted a firefighter badge). Although he mentioned the B/A degree in his oral board answer "What have you done to prepare for this position" he focused on his personal life and paramedic experience. He got his badge!

    I believe in education. If you want to get a Public Administration, Engineering or any other degree as a career track, great. Don’t think it will be the key to get into the fire service.

    I look for the shortest distance to the badge. If I were starting out, I would run to paramedic school. Yes, you can get on without it. I have candidates all the time who get a badge without being a medic. But for the time spent and with more than 80% of job offerings being fire/medic, the odds are better.

    Many departments have educational incentive programs where they will pay you to go to school. I took advantage of this program and received an additional 5% pay. This 5% was included in my retirement.

    From another candidate:

    With all due respect to all that was said, speaking as a volunteer firefighter who has a 4 year degree, I would say that getting your BA or BS for a firefighter job is not a good way to go. I got my BS, and $100,000 later, i'm hoping to work in a job that requires only a technical certification that costs $250. and having the BS with out the tech cert makes me pretty much unhirable.

    Get your paramedic. get your FF1 and FF2. get your hazmat tech. those are what is going to make you valuable to a company. A 4 year degree is worthwhile, but only if you use it. most departments aren't requiring them. some departments will even pay for you to attend college courses. yes, it helps if you want to become an officer or a chief officer. but your going for entry level. your going to have to pass the physical, pass the psych test, pass the written, and pass the oral board.

    Focus on your goal. and don't let anything get in your way until you get it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CALFFBOU
    Please go back and read my posting again. I said- "Keep your oral balanced. Show the education blended in with other life experiences and training."

    Do not go in and bring up the BA/BS degree on every question. Balance, must have balance.
    Oh no the fact I was finishing up an associates degree was blended with life experiences I understand not to go in thinking because i'm working toward that degree does not make me superior in the hiring process. I'm asking I suppose about bringing up about having more of a willingness to want to learn.

    For example would this help or hurt-I was asked how I felt about training and my response was I would be willing to take any type of training necessary because it would benefit me and I was willing to learn new things and anything the department felt I needed to be trained on.

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    I am a Paramedic and rode a meatwagon going on 32 yrs. and just retired from a Metropolitan FD. Got my FF 1 when I was 50 yrs old. One class away from my BS in Health Care Admin - Human Resources and you know what? All I want to do is make calls. I've got to go through the same interview process as everybody else. On my application, I'm a Paramedic with a FF1 and may not even mention the BS. The Fire Service is going to full service emergency services. In my career, I've seen it completely reject medical services and alienating EMS crews in the fire halls was a common practice, and unfortunately still is in some places. If you have your education(Paramedic, Fire Science) and your training(FF1, HazMat, etc), find out how the department works. Visit some of the halls, if you have the time. Get a feel of the work environment.

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