Why register? ...To Enhance Your Experience
+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 36
  1. #1
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    19

    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
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    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?

  3. #3
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    19

    Default

    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.

  4. #4
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    19

    Default

    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.

  5. #5
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Posts
    2,466

    Default

    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. Iíve 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.

    Whatís the time line? If youíre 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 youíre 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 bachelorís degree PRIOR to getting a ďrealĒ 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 Ė 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 ďwhat-ifĒ game that reminds me of high school dating.

    Captain Bobís approach to focus on only doing things to get the BADGE is like the suggestions I provide to younger wanna-beís.

    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 parentís 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

  6. #6
    Forum Member JayDudley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Idaho
    Posts
    1,265

    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
    Retired Fire
    Background Investigator
    IACOJ-Member
    Lifetime Member CSFA
    IAFF Alumni Member

  7. #7
    FLA1786
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    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 01:59 PM. Reason: spelling

  8. #8
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Posts
    2,466

    Default

    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 Bobís program. Thank you. Tim
    Last edited by CaptBob; 04-12-2007 at 02:42 PM.
    ______________________________ _______________

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

    Fire "Captain Bob"

    www.eatstress.com

  9. #9
    FLA1786
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    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 Bobís 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.

  10. #10
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    19

    Default

    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

  11. #11
    Permanently Removed CALFFBOU's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    CA
    Posts
    6,520

    Default

    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 10:02 PM.

  12. #12
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    7

    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?

  13. #13
    Forum Member LightsAndSirens's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    151

    Default

    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.

  14. #14
    Permanently Removed CALFFBOU's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    CA
    Posts
    6,520

    Default

    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.

  15. #15
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    6

    Default

    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

  16. #16
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    60

    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 10:19 PM.

  17. #17
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    70

    Default

    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 03:03 AM.

  18. #18
    Forum Member LightsAndSirens's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    151

    Default

    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!

  19. #19
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    6

    Default

    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!)

  20. #20
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Posts
    2,466

    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. Donít think it will be the key to get into the fire service. We have enough chiefs. We need more indians.

    Iíve 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 donít 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?" Youíre applying for a snotty nose rookie position as a firefighter!" John dropped his head and said, "Maybe thatís why I canít 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

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. SOP's for Volunteer FD
    By rumlfire in forum Volunteer Forum
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 08-01-2006, 10:35 PM
  2. Firehouse Fight Critically Injures Firefighter
    By WestTac1 in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 139
    Last Post: 04-30-2006, 12:24 PM
  3. HELP!! I wanted to be a career firefighter
    By AUSSIEFIRECHICK in forum International
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 12-07-2005, 04:51 AM
  4. Man Allegedly posses as Firefighter
    By LtStick in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 11-04-2001, 01:58 PM
  5. Thermal Imaging SOG's
    By wtfd92 in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 23
    Last Post: 06-27-2001, 08:41 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts