1. #1
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    Default Could I get some info on where to start on the career path to becomming a firefighter

    Hello everyone. I would first like to preface by apologizing if this is the wrong forum, or if these questions get asked often. I have done some searching and still have questions I would like to get answered.

    I am 19, live in Massachusetts, and did a Fire Explorers program for 3 of my four years of high school (Soph - Senior year). While attending this program, and after it's completion, I always wanted to pursue a career in the FD, however I sort of put it on the back burner until a month or so ago. I am a freshman in college, studying accounting, and it just doesn't interest me. School work is not something I am motivated to work on (and I don't see office work being any better). When I attended my Explorer's program (Once every two weeks), I always looked forward to it and to learning new things. Whether it was switching out SCBA's to taking blood pressure, to learning the pump system, to the EMT side of things, I always loved being embraced in that environment and loved training hands on with that.
    As I said, recently I have once again given serious thoughts to joining a fire department, and after talking to many people, I am unsure of how to get started on this path. Some people have said the military is the only way, others tell me to take a fire science class, others tell me to take a four year course and receive a degree in fire science. After much research and snooping, I have finally come across this site and decided to ask the questions, hoping to get them answered, and allow me to give serious considerations to the job, and get started on the path to becoming a fire fighter.
    So, I come here to ask what is my best bet to joining a department. Is the military my only choice? Is one fire science class enough (an evening program)? Will it drastically help me to attend school and receive a degree in fire science? As a side bar, if it is best for me to attend school for a fire science, I noticed many community colleges in this area offer Associates Degrees in the subject. Is this enough to get me started, or am I better off attending a private college? (Also, I am currently trying to get in touch with my former Explorer chief, however since my town is a volunteer department, it is a bit more difficult.)

    If it helps to add to this, I don't drink, smoke, have no speeding tickets, no arrests, no court dates/appearances, and in case it was not clearly presented, I am interested in joining a paid department.

    I thank you for any time you will take to read this post, and any help you provided. Even the smallest bit of information will be welcome with open arms.

    Yours Truly,

    Sean M.

  2. #2
    FLA1786
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    Which way you go has A LOT to do with what department you want to get hired on with. If you want to work for boston, being in the military and living in boston would be a HUGE advantage. It all really depends on where you want to work...so where do you want to work?

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    Quote Originally Posted by FLA1786 View Post
    Which way you go has A LOT to do with what department you want to get hired on with. If you want to work for boston, being in the military and living in boston would be a HUGE advantage. It all really depends on where you want to work...so where do you want to work?
    I am most interested in the Danvers, MA department.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FLA1786 View Post
    Which way you go has A LOT to do with what department you want to get hired on with. If you want to work for boston, being in the military and living in boston would be a HUGE advantage. It all really depends on where you want to work...so where do you want to work?
    I am most interested in working for the Danvers, MA Fire Department.

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    If you really want to become a Firefighter going into the military might not be your best choice. Yes, I served my time in the military. I’ve seen and heard from candidates for years who thought the military would be their ticket in. I seldom if ever heard from them again after they went in. It might be a combination of pay, stations, getting married, financial and other obligations while in the military.

    Education????? Degree???? You sound young enough to get a degree especially if your parents are going to pay the freight.

    Education will never hurt you.

    But if you really want to get a firefighter job consider these points:

    Is there a requirement for an advanced degree to get a firefighter job?

    Answer: Few if any. A fraction of departments list an advanced degree as desirable but not required.

    Where are 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?

    Ask yourself who is getting the badges? The vast majority of candidates we see get hired do not have advanced degrees. They're more in the line of EMT, FF1 academy, working on or have an AA or AS degree or medics. Some have no fire education or experience. Their biggest asset was they leaned how to take an interview.

    What’s the time line? If you’re just starting college and want to get your BA, it could take you 4 maybe 5 or more years depending on when you can line up and complete all your classes and requirements. Then, if you wanted to go further the timing it to get into and academy and or paramedic school and get some street time another 2+ years? So around 7 years give or take to get in position to go after the badge. Are you going to need student loans? Do you have a special person in your life who is going to wait while you pursue your career? How long can you tread water?

    The path to become a medic is about 2 years with gaining some savvy street time. If you can get in an academy in that time period it will be convincing evidence that you have the hands on experience that a department can take a risk on you.

    Can you continue your education once you’re hired? Will departments give you an education incentive?

    Answer: Yes to both.

    Yes, having a degree will help with promotions but how long will it be before you will qualify to take a promotional exam?

    Answer: Engineer depending on the agency 3 plus years. An officer? Five or more years. So if you get on you could obtain the necessary education before your first promotional test to be in position. And, the department will pay for you to go to college. And, to be able to use the advanced degree you have to get the J-O-B first.


    The following is from:
    Michael J. Ward, MGA, MIFireE

    In my preferred world, a high school graduate will attend college and obtain an undergraduate bachelor’s degree PRIOR to getting a “real” job. This illustrates the values of going to college and getting to experiment and become an adult in a semi-protective environment.

    Lets cut through the testosterone and turf wars and consider the question of which is the best way to get a badge. First, I will agree when considering a major in college, fire science provides a poor return on investment if the goal is a career as a paid firefighter.

    There may be another reason why an 18 year old wants to go to work right away. Many graduates of American high schools lack the reading, mathematic or study skills to start freshman college.

    Firefighting is one of the few middle-class jobs not requiring college education as a pre-employment requirement. I think that distinction will evaporate in the next generation. As Captain Bob repeatedly points out, most fire departments do not provide preferential considerations for someone with a two-or-four year degree. If you are going to college to prepare for a career in fire-rescue, your best investment is to obtain paramedic certification.

    THE BRUTALITY OF THE HIRING PROCESS

    Fire departments continue to hire as if it was 1899 – you are a slab of meat evaluated for your physical, mental and moral capabilities. The regional or local fire academy will provide the needed on-the-job training. Most of them do not care about your volunteer experience or existing fire service certifications. But many will treat you preferentially if you are a National Registry EMT/Paramedic.

    You may have forgotten what it is like to be on the outside with a burning desire to be a full-time firefighter. That desire results in an endless “what-if” game that reminds me of high school dating.

    Captain Bob’s approach to focus on only doing things to get the BADGE is like the suggestions I provide to younger wanna-be’s.

    MY OPINION:

    If you can, go to college and get a bachelor degree. Have fun, try out new things, see the world. Get your degree in whatever interests you, since 80% of your fellow graduates end up in jobs different than what their degree says.

    After you get your badge and get off probation, you can take whatever fire science, emergency management, WMD, ICS, or XYZ classes required by your department. Generally, they will pay for those classes.
    My teaching experience goes from high school vocational EMT (three years) to community college (20 years) through university (four years). My personal educational journey includes flunking out of engineering school, while living in a fire station and spending my parent’s money. I returned to obtain a bachelor and master degree years later.

    There is a huge amount of diversity in "fire science" academic programs. From community college credit for Firefighter I to graduate engineering and hard science research university PhDs.
    Michael J. Ward, MGA, MIFireE
    _____________________________________________

    "Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

    Fire "Captain Bob"

    www.eatstress.com

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    Default Military??

    On this one I have to disagree with Captain Bob. If you find it hard to gain access into the Fire Family.....Then there is a door open in the service. They train you to be Firefighters and you can see the world. To gain experience to become a Civilian Firefighter. That's the way I did it and I did disapear...but thats because I retired and moved to Northern Idaho. Education is also key here. Get your A.S. or A.A. in Fire Science and the world is yours.
    Good Luck and I'm glad you finally found a web site where you can ask"those questions".

    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley, Retired Fire
    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley
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  7. #7
    FLA1786
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    I tried finding a website for that FD and came up short. I also looked for a city website and it wasn't helpful. The best way to determine what you should do is find out the hiring process and talk to a DFD fireman.

    NYC's process goes like this: apply, civil service written exam, physical, recieve rank number, get conditional offer pending medical and psych evaluations. If you are a citizen of NYC you get to add 5 points to your written, and if you are a veteren(military) you get to add 10. For NYC the best way to go is military.

    Now there are places like in california where the whole ballgame changes, if youre not a medic they wont look at you. That is why you will read so many mixed answers. CaptBob will tell you to become a medic and buy his program, because that works for his region and places like it. But a Boston or NYC fireman will tell you to get in shape, goto the military, and get an outstanding score.

    See its all subject to where you want to be and what that departments process is. If you could give me an idea on how this town works with that I, and others, could narrow it down for you. Judging by the size of the department though, youre probably gonna want to start volunteering for them, or getting involved somehow, small places like them like their own and dont really have to answer to anyone.
    Last edited by FLA1786; 04-12-2007 at 02:59 PM. Reason: spelling

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    Quote Originally Posted by FLA1786 View Post
    Now there are places like in california where the whole ballgame changes, if youre not a medic they wont look at you. That is why you will read so many mixed answers. CaptBob will tell you to become a medic and buy his program, because that works for his region and places like it. But a Boston or NYC fireman will tell you to get in shape, goto the military, and get an outstanding score.
    Really??? Granted, NYC and Boston are one of the few left that don't give an oral board. What about all the others where the oral board is 100% of the score?

    We have the GPS to help you get the J-O-B!

    From Tim: It doesn't matter where you are from, what part of the country you're in, how old or tall, or fit you are, without these tools you have provided I'd still be a phone man in NYC. Now I'm achieved my dream job and proud to say I'll be a firefighter in beautiful Virginia Beach. This feeling of accomplishment feels like it will last a lifetime, it's an amazing feeling.

    For those candidates that think just because they are in the service as a volunteer or EMT, gives them the knowledge and preparedness is just plain ignorant. I was both a volunteer firefighter and EMT several years ago, and would not have known the skills and nuggets needed to get that edge and advantage through each step without Captain Bob’s program. Thank you. Tim
    Last edited by CaptBob; 04-12-2007 at 03:42 PM.
    _____________________________________________

    "Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

    Fire "Captain Bob"

    www.eatstress.com

  9. #9
    FLA1786
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptBob View Post
    Really??? Granted, NYC and Boston are one of the few left that don't give an oral board. What about all the others where the oral board is 100% of the score?

    We have the GPS to help you get the J-O-B!

    From Tim: It doesn't matter where you are from, what part of the country you're in, how old or tall, or fit you are, without these tools you have provided I'd still be a phone man in NYC. Now I'm achieved my dream job and proud to say I'll be a firefighter in beautiful Virginia Beach. This feeling of accomplishment feels like it will last a lifetime, it's an amazing feeling.

    For those candidates that think just because they are in the service as a volunteer or EMT, gives them the knowledge and preparedness is just plain ignorant. I was both a volunteer firefighter and EMT several years ago, and would not have known the skills and nuggets needed to get that edge and advantage through each step without Captain Bob’s program. Thank you. Tim
    I dont think you read what I said correctly? I wasn't questioning your methods by any means, I haven't used them so I wouldn't know but the hundreds of testimonials randomly posted speak for themselves. I was just saying if the guy wanted to work for a place like NYC or Boston (mainly boston cause thats where he lives), and also the entire state of NJ then people from those regions would tell him to go military. The department he wants is actually a small town so your advice and product will probably be his best bet if they dont use the Mass civil service system. If they DO use the mass civil service then being a veteran would place him above everone else on the list, then he could use your program if the dept uses an oral. Like I was saying, every place is different and calls for different ways, wasnt questioning you Cap.

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    Thank you very much for the answers. I just wanted to post to let you know I am following the thread and reading everything. Trying to digest everything and take it from there, with some more questions probably.

    Thanks Again for the help, it is greatly appreciated.

    Sean

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    I only got a minute here, but I would NOT join the military in hopes to enter the fire service.

    Why?

    I have seen people get too caught up and settled in the military life. More offen, the serviceperson gets lonely, then married, then kids, in debt and over all so in deep in life that trying to enter the fire service (classes, testing, orals, traveling, etc...) is too taxing on the mind, body and mostly the pocketbook.

    Find out who and where you want to work. FOCUS on that target area and get there. Do whatever it takes to get a foothold and start there. There are plenty of backdoors to enter a fire service career, most people are too lazy to jiggle on the door to enter it. (dispatcher, prevention, office, etc...)

    Perfect example- I like the Las Vegas area. If I was starting over, I would go work for AMR there. They ROCK when it comes to EMS. They would probably send you to medic school locally. Then the sky is the limit- Clark County Fire, Las Vegas City, Henderson, North LV, NDF, etc.

    California? You can pull of the same plan. As mention severla times before, Cali wants medics. But, there are lot of non-medic backdoors in Cali. I would talk about them here, but if youre not interested, I will pass on the info. for now.

    Education- If youre still young, living with Mom and Dad and they will pay for your schooling- DO IT! A degree is "paper gold". And makes a perfect "plan b" if you get hurt on the job. (what are you goingto do, flip burgers?)


    If you want more help, hit me up....Bou
    Last edited by CALFFBOU; 04-12-2007 at 11:02 PM.

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    Default Career

    Im also 19, im from New Jersey and having a hard time getting into a career fire employment. I am currently in school for Public safety, but my old man lost his job and he can no longer pay for my education. Im in the hiring process for Charlotte Fire, and i read on one of the forums that it is one of the hardest depts. to get into. Any suggestions? or other places to go?

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    Army or Air National Guard is the way to go. They pay for school, look awesome on a resume, and get you extra points on the written test for most departments if you achieve veteran status. You can earn your degree and be in the guard at the same time, and if you're smart, volunteer fire & EMS somewhere. If you do these things and keep your record clean, you'll be on the right track to getting a job at a good department. Do it while you're young and you won't regret it.

    I don't care what anybody else says; military experience really stands out to most employers as a very good thing. Combine that with a college degree, and you're going to be way ahead of the game no matter what career path you choose.

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    And right now if you join the military, there is a good chance that you might be shipped overseas with a commitment AFTER you return.

    Again- Ask yourself, deep down- What do I really want?

    If I could go back in time, I would have taken my own advice and done things a little different.

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    Sean,

    Whether you decide to go military or not you need to pass the written exam and oral interview to get the job. Check out a new free website www.thefirefighterexam.com. The site includes practice exams, interview tips, job listings and more. Good luck.

    Jon

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    Thumbs up simple solution

    Join the military (regular active duty), keep your head low, get out (honorable discharge, of course!) and become a paramedic and in the meantime don't get anyone pregnant (assuming you're a dude..) or don't get pregnant

    PS. be willing to relocate.

    Good Luck
    Last edited by cb1776; 04-13-2007 at 11:19 PM.

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    I agree with some already that don't go into the military. I'd say go the whole fire science AS degree route, volunteer again, and get your EMT. Once you get those out of the way, take some tests to see how you do and where you need work on. Do this for about 3 years, and you'll have all that behind you when your 22, have a little life experience behind you, and then apply. See were you want to work and what you need.
    Last edited by mattc05; 04-15-2007 at 04:03 AM.

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    Here's the deal, if you want a FF job w/a good dept, you have to be more than just qualified. There are so many people who are just...qualified. You have to bring something unique to the table that makes them want YOU. That takes doing something to separate you from the crowd. Getting a good FF job also takes proving you're a trustworthy & well-rounded person with strength of character & maturity. Nobody can tell you exactly what path to take, but I advise not only do more than the average Joe, but something different that helps define who you are. Find a path and stick with it by consistently taking steps towards your goal. Whenever I talk with the chief for the city I live in (population about 250,000) about the firefighters of that department, the chief doesn't talk about how well-qualified the firefighters are, the chief talks about what good people they are; think about it!

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    I myself have a similar dilemma. I live in Jersey and am a non-vet. Its a civil service exam and I also have NO residency preference in the town I live bc they are open to two counties as "residents". Because of this frustrating process, I have seriously contemplated moving to FLA, going to school to get my EMT/Paramedic then paying my way through the academy so I can start applying. Tough decision bc Im not exactly thrilled to move and go to school for a year and a half (I just finished college!)

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    Default Value of a 4 year degree

    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. We have enough chiefs. We need more indians.

    I’ve coached several candidates who have had B.S./BA degrees in Public Administration areas. They have been misguided by counselors that said this would be an asset to get into the fire service. What ends up happening is these candidates show up at an entry-level oral board boasting and trying to hammer the board with their degree. What they don’t understand is some on the other side of the oral board table do not have this degree. And most of these candidates might never have a chance to use it in the fire service. You see you have to get the J-O-B first. Can you get hired going the education route? Sure. It happens all the time.

    This from a SF candidate: I'm currently on the SFFD H-2 list "4th Generation hopefully SFFD"! I'm also a volunteer firefighter/EMT. My volunteer Fire department requires Paramedic certifications for entry-level firefighters. After graduating from a four year university... I had an administration internship with my volunteer department where I wrote and designed the District's Master Plan and preformed statistical analysis for "time respond" for Fire suppression and medical calls. I also went on ride alongs with the engine, truck and even with the chief himself. I was told by the chief if I went out to get my paramedic license... I would be hired on the spot. Becoming a paramedic is not my cup of tea... it's been beaten in my head as a child "from my grandfather and father" to be a firefighter not a medic... ! All of the paid firefighters like my work ethic and all say they should let me in as a Firefighter/EMT.

    My reply: With all due respect to your family members, the playing field has changed. It must be killing you to see these guys hired and it's not you. Like it or not, understand that 75%+ of calls are medical in nature. Eighty percent of the job offerings are for fire medics. Had you gone to medic school as I encourage candidates to do, gained the valuable in service medic street time, you wouldn't be trying to fight your way into a department as an EMT. You would be wearing the H-3 badge for SFFD (I'm 3rd generation San Franciscan myself) or another department.

    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 already done instead of the B/A degree). 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!

    Look for the shortest distance to the badge. If I were starting out and had the interest in EMS, 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.
    _____________________________________________

    "Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

    Fire "Captain Bob"

    www.eatstress.com

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    Bob wrote,

    "We have enough chiefs, we need more indians."

    I couldn't disagree more. One of my mentors told me years ago something that I still remember to this day. He said, "We can hire back seat firefighters all day long. I want to hire someone who will be a lieutenant in 8 10 10 years."

    Anyone who tells yo that education is not important to the fire service is out to lunch.




    Two-Year Plan


     If still in high school look into a Regional Occupational Program (ROP).

    Many local fire departments have community outreach recruitment programs.

     Graduate from high school or obtain your GED.

    A diploma is much preferred.

     Talk with a counselor at a community college that offers fire science courses.

    Set up a course curriculum that allows you to obtain a two-year degree in fire science. If the local college does not offer a fire science program, find one that does.

    This curriculum should also allow you to complete the prerequisite courses for a fire academy.

     Take an Emergency Medical Technician Course (EMT).

    This will accomplish a few things. First of all, it is a course required by most departments. It will also let you know if this profession is for you. If you find you can’t handle the sight of blood or helping people during crises, the fire service may not be for you.

     Enroll in a state certified fire academy.

    Many departments require completion of a Firefighter 1 Academy prior to taking the entry-level exam.

    Completion of a fire academy prior to being hired will greatly enhance a candidate’s chance of successfully completing the fire department’s academy. Many fire departments have a 25 – 30% failure rate.


     Find out if your community has either a fire department volunteer program or Fire Explorers.


    Volunteering in the fire department is an excellent way to gain real life experience. This exposure will also allow you to determine if this is indeed the right career choice for you.


     Volunteer in your community.

    Find something that you are interested in and volunteer your time: church, sports, hospital, YMCA, Red Cross, etc. It doesn’t matter. Get involved. Volunteering is something that should be done because it’s the right thing to do, not because it will look good on a firefighter application.


    Firefighters are self-motivated and have historically been involved in their communities. The perception is that if you are helping out in your community now, you will be the type who will likely continue to stay involved after you are hired, helping out in various committees and groups both on and off the job.

     Visit the local fire stations.

    Interview the firefighters and elicit their help in planning your career path. It is a tremendous compliment to the firefighters to have someone aspire to be in their position. Visiting the fire stations will help you learn about the job and the culture of the fire service. In addition, you will learn of things that you could be doing to enhance your chances of getting hired. Ultimately, when the department hires, you will be in a good position since the firefighters have gotten to know you and have taken the time to mentor you. There is nothing better than a “home grown” prospect.

     Prepare for a fire department interview.

    Consider the reasons why you want to become a firefighter and be able to express them. Do your research and learn the rules of the road concerning the interview process. Participate in “mock” interviews with firefighters.

     Start a log that includes everything you have done to prepare yourself.

    Include details, dates, and names of instructors. Include any personal experiences that may be pertinent to becoming a firefighter.
    A few examples of this could be:

    You witnessed a car accident and were able to render aid.

    You volunteered your time at the Boys and Girls club.


    You experienced a life-changing event.

    You were voted most inspirational on your athletic team or your fire academy.

    Your high school athletic team won the championship.

    You were a lifeguard at the city pool.

    Anything that you think might be significant. There are no rules. Write it down!

    This information will go on your resume, or may be speaking points in an interview. This is preparing you to answer difficult questions in an interview, such as, “Please share with the panel a stressful time in your life, and how you dealt with it.”

    The log should just be an easy and accessible memory jogger for you. If you are comfortable with a pencil and notepad, keep them in your room in a convenient spot so you won’t forget to use them. If you are more comfortable on the computer, then use it to formulate your thoughts and ideas.

     Get in shape.

    Firefighting is a very physical job requiring peak physical strength and endurance. If you are not in good physical condition, it will become very evident during the physical agility testing or the pre-hire medical exam. It is also important to look as if you are physically prepared for the job.

    If you see a firefighter who looks out of shape, don’t look at him and think, “If he got hired, so can I!” Odds are he was in better physical condition when he was first hired. You are trying to do everything you can to improve your chances. This is a very important part that you have complete control over!

     Look the part!

    The rule of thumb in an interview is to hire someone who you can see becoming a member or your crew tomorrow. A candidate who walks in with excessive facial hair, large tattoos or body piercing that is not permitted by the department’s policies presents as a candidate who is not ready for the position. Do not make the mistake of saying that you will remove them when you are ready to be hired. You are making a statement. It is important to understand that the fire department is a paramilitary organization. These will definitely not improve your chances of success.

     Dress professionally.
    Invest in a suit and tie. Although not required for the interview, a candidate who does not wear one stands out. First impressions are critical. Make sure the suit is conservative, not flashy.

    Dress professionally whenever you will have contact with members of the department. This includes station visits. Remember, it is important to make a good first impression.

     Enroll in a service that lets you know which departments are testing.

    There are several businesses on the Internet that will inform you of which departments are testing and what their requirements are.

    Most departments test every 2-3 years. They will then hire from the “eligibility list” until it expires. The window to file an application is usually very small, ranging from as short as 1 day to as long as 30 days. Once the filing period is closed, the department will not accept any more applications. If you don’t have a subscription to one these services, you will miss a lot of opportunities.

     Talk to your family.

    The decision to become a firefighter is a monumental one. It will most likely be a long road that requires a lot of time and sacrifice. If you don’t have a family or friend support network, it will become extremely difficult. Most importantly, if your spouse does not support your decision, you are destined for failure.

     Surround yourself with reputable people.

    A firefighter position is a life choice, not just a job. You must be prepared to live your life with excellent moral and ethical values. For this you will need the support of family and friends who are good role models. If your friends are not a positive influence in the community, you may want to find a new set of friends. Remember the old saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.” A background check will scrutinize not only you, but also the company you keep.

     Learn a trade.

    Woodworking, framing, electrical, plumbing, welding and automotive are all common examples of a trade. Firefighting is a very physical job that requires good psychomotor skills and a hands-on approach. Typically those who have learned a trade possess these applicable job skills. If you know how a building is constructed, you will be able to predict how a fire will travel through it. If you know where the electrical and plumbing is typically run behind the drywall, you will most likely know where it would be safe to open it up. You will also have become very comfortable with power tools. The importance of being able to work with your hands cannot be overstated.

    If you don’t currently have this kind of experience, start taking classes in a trade at your community college. You will at least learn the basics. Back this up with some real life practical experience. It will be invaluable knowledge and will play out well in an interview. Mechanical aptitude cannot be learned in an Internet class or while sitting behind a computer.

     Improve your public speaking skills.

    If you are uncomfortable getting up in front of a group, you must take steps to overcome your fear. The largest percentage of the testing process is the interview, and ultimately a large part of the job deals with public speaking! You won’t talk a fire out, but you will talk to different groups about how to prevent them. If you can present yourself well in an interview, you are leaps and bounds ahead of the others who can’t. Even if the other candidates have more experience than you, the job will usually be awarded to the candidate who can present him or herself in a clear and concise manner.

    If public speaking is your downfall, it is imperative to join Toastmasters or take some courses at your community college. A speech and debate class is an excellent way to get over the jitters. Acting or drama classes can also be an excellent way to feel more comfortable in front of a group.

    Teaching others can also help you learn to think on your feet. Whether you are teaching CPR and First Aid or your local Sunday school class, it will help you learn to present information clearly and field questions.

    A typical interview question might be, “What do you consider a weakness about yourself?” Your answer could be, “I used to feel uncomfortable getting up and speaking in front of a group. I knew this was a very important part of my chosen vocation. I took several classes at my community college to help improve my comfort level. Since then I feel much more confident in my ability to speak in public.”

    You can have all of the best traits in the world, but if you can’t effectively convey them in an interview they will go unnoticed. Now that’s turning a negative into a positive!

     Maintain a clean driving and criminal record.

    It goes without saying that firefighters are held to a standard that is much higher than the average citizen. The road is littered with firefighter candidates who have failed their background check due to a poor driving or criminal record.

     Maintain a good credit history.

    Your credit history is a reflection of your reliability, honesty, organization and attention to detail.

     Update your resume.

    Make sure your resume has no technical or grammatical errors, is well organized and comprehensive. Ask reliable friends or family to proofread it.

  22. #22
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    Paul Wrote:

    "We have enough chiefs, we need more indians."

    I couldn't disagree more. One of my mentors told me years ago something that I still remember to this day. He said, "We can hire back seat firefighters all day long. I want to hire someone who will be a lieutenant in 8 10 10 years."

    Anyone who tells yo that education is not important to the fire service is out to lunch.


    Lunch? Maybe you missed the opening in my posting:

    I believe in education.

    Well Chief who's really getting the badges? Are you speaking for your department or the fire service in general.

    Is your goal to become a firefighter? Whichever way you go it all comes down to priorities. I believe in doing what is necessary to improve your odds in gaining that badge. The vast majority of candidates I’ve seen over the last few years do not have a four-year degree. That has not changed coast to coast. You have to get the J-O-B first!

    I’ve heard from more than 20 candidates who are either in the LA City Academy, scheduled for one of the next academies or in the final stages of completing their backgrounds. Not one has a four-year degree. Not one! Many had little of no previous interview experience. What say you?

    If a firefighter can't get in a degree in the 8 to ten year period you're referring to on a firefighters schedule before their eligible for promotion are they really motivated? I hear it's tough to go back and get your degree once you get hired. Motivation and priorities again. I did it and got paid to go to college and get my degree.

    Two friends, Dave and Scott were volunteers in their city. Dave had been convinced that he needed to get a degree in order to be hired. Scott told him to stay, become a medic and they would get on. Dave went off for six years, got his BA degree in business and still couldn’t get hired. Scott became a medic and was hired by his volunteer department. He now has 6 years seniority, made more than $100,000 each year with OT ($140,000 last year---that’s real money) and enjoys the good life, more toys than you could imagine and has traveled everywhere.

    Guess what? Dave was still trying to get a fire job after six years. Even after getting all the usual credentials. Firefighter 1, BA degree, 3 seasons with CDF, rode ambulance yada, yada, yada, Dave finally figured out he needed to become a medic (yes, he enjoys the medic side) to get hired. to get hired. After getting his medic cert, he got hired. Where you ask? The department he was a volunteer for.
    Last edited by CaptBob; 04-27-2007 at 12:30 AM.
    _____________________________________________

    "Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

    Fire "Captain Bob"

    www.eatstress.com

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    I'm going to have to agree with BCLepore on the chiefs vs. indians debate when it comes to hiring firefighters. Actually, when I came across the post where CaptBob said "we have enough chiefs, we need more indians," I was quite surprised, because it went against everything I've ever learned about firefighting recruitment. I'll elaborate more when it isn't so late.

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    Bob,
    In the past 30 days I have been to Washington DC to attend an EMS meeting that included all of the major fire departments across the country (New York, Milwaukee, San Antonio, Dallas, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Denver etc.) This week I attended a meeting to rewrite the high Rise portion of the FOG manual with representatives from San Francisco, San Diego, LA County, LA City, Fresno, Orange County, Redwood City, and Fresno.
    The subject of hiring entry-level firefighters is on the forefront of everyone’s mind. Everywhere I go it is the subject of conversation. I can assure you that each of these Chief Officers (this is the same group that is intimately involved in the hiring of new firefighters), is looking for well-rounded, intelligent, EDUCATED candidates.
    Your statement of, “We have enough Chief Officers and not enough Indians” is a direct reflection of you not understanding today’s fire service. Times have changed.
    Most of the chief officers who are leading today’s fire service are either in school (while balancing their fire department responsibilities and family), or have earned a degree while they worked.
    Your stale post about the two volunteers is also old and out of date. You need to get some new material.
    I am a huge advocate of paramedics. I am in charge of the EMS Division of one of the largest departments in California. I still maintain my paramedic license. Having said all of that, if I had a son or daughter interested in the fire service I would encourage him or her to get a four-year degree and THEN worry about the fire department.
    Getting hired in the fire service is not the end of the journey. It’s the beginning. You still need to complete probation and find your niche on the department. Soon you will become the senior firefighter. Before you know it you will be studying for promotional exams.

    Paul Lepore

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    Spin this any way you want but the proof is in who is getting the badges.

    From a candidate:

    I think its best to get your paramedic first. I tested for five years before I got it. I got hired after three months of getting it. Now I am going to go back and get my degree. I tested in shorts and got hired Paul!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Last edited by CaptBob; 04-27-2007 at 05:22 PM.
    _____________________________________________

    "Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

    Fire "Captain Bob"

    www.eatstress.com

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