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I know i want to be a fireman, but what now

Hi i just enrolled back into school knowing that i want to be a fireman i've researched it but still confused as to what i should do now. I left school about a year ago to get away and clear my mind and just take a break now im certain as to what i want to do. I have some general education credits under my belt and i know they count towards me transfering to CSU Los Angeles for my bachelors in firescience and at this rate i shoud be able to transfer sometime next year around NOV-DEC but im still confused, i know i need these courses to transfer to get my BA at a 4yr university but do i need to complete some courses before i go into an academy because i know some academies require an EMT/EMS license or something like that so how do i obtain i just enroll in the EMT courses at my school (Southwestern JC (chula vista, ca))and upon completion im given a license or what? I know there's academies coming up this august and also to those who know- is it wiser to receive my AA first then go into an academy or can i go to an academy while i go to school and why?
Thanks, Phil

Let me get this straight...

You are not an EMT, you have not attended an academy, you are not an active firefighter. Correct?

If so, then why would you even remotely consider getting a BS in Fire Administration? You are not looking for a chiefs job, you are interested in becoming a firefighter. You need to focus on what will allow you to take the test in the first place. Those are the following:

1. EMT take it NOW it is a one semester class. The way EMT works is you take the class, pass a certifying exam and then you become certified. Check with your school to see if there are any pre-reqs for EMT, usually there are not. If you want to, you could get a job as an EMT which is why I advise taking it before the fire academy (that and some academies require it as a pre-requisite).

2. Fire Academy. This goes without saying. If you want to be a firefighter it all starts here. You may need to take a few pre-reqs depending on the academy, check with the school you want to attend, there are a few different programs in San Diego County and many in the surrounding region. You can get contact information on the schools and academies section of this website.

Once these two steps are out of the way, you can start taking tests. If you get hired great, if not keep acquiring education and experience such as the following:

3. Complete an AS in fire technology. These degrees are available at a large number of community colleges.

4. Volunteer or become a reserve somewhere so you can gain some insight as to whether or not this is really what you want to do.

5. If you have the aptitude and desire, consider paramedic school. This will open the door to MANY more testing opportunities. Contrary to popular opinion, however, it DOES NOT GUARANTEE a job as a firefighter.

6. Complete a Bachelors degree if you can. If nothing else it shows you can stick it out through a defined course of study. Don't get a degree in Fire Administration unless you are already hired by a fire department and are off probation. Otherwise you may get stuck with a degree that is otherwise useless. Think about something else.

I hope this helps you...

Good Luck.

This message was edited by FireMedic on 3-5-03 @ 9:24 PM

So basically take the classes/prerequisites required to get your AA in fire science/transfer to a four year university... im enrolled in a EMT class here at my school (Southwestern JC) during the summer. I have seen many posts on this website and other academy websites that require an EMT cert before you are able to enroll in any academy, is this correct? And as far as transferring i sholud change my major "UNTIL" i am hired onto a fire department and off probation if i understand correctly.... and i have started volunteering at community centers but if i were to volunteer at a fire department what type of work would i be getting into... Would it be just participating in community activites that fireman do or what? Thank you for the previous response though it helped me out a lot now i at least have a base to build on, please forward more information, anything would help out to help me become a fireman (and yes im VERY dedicated to becoming on as well :))
Thanks, Phil

Take EMT, take the pre-reqs to the academy, take the academy. Don't worry about degrees until you have those things done. Think of degrees as things that can be completed while you are in the testing process.

I agree with firemedic for the most part. I do have a slight variation. My preference would be to have you finish your BA degree and take fire tech courses when you are completed. This of course applies only if you are close to finishing your degree. If you still have a couple of years, then I would put it on hold.
My reasoning is that if you have an academy and a handful of fire science classes you get lost in the crowd. If you have a BA and the academy and a few fire science courses you are in an elite group.
It sounds great to say that you will go back to school after you get hired I will tell lyou that the amount firefighters that go back to school is not that great. Trust me, it takes extreme dedication. I applaud those that do. Career, wife, kids and a business sidetracked me from getting mine. If I had it to do all over again I would have gone to 4 year college and then pursued the fire service.
You will use your degree when it comes to promotion. It may not mean much to you now but before you know it you will be studying for the captain's exam.

Paul Lepore
This message was edited by Paul on 4-6-03 @ 9:27 PM

In addition to the excellent information already offered


Tons of people get jobs every year at big and small departments with no experiance and just the bare minimum of requirments. Pass the physical, get a high enough score on the written to get in the oral then sell yourself. This is not meant to suggest that preparation is a waste but if you punch a ticket and do well you ahead of the game. If not it just adds to your experiance

For two if the guys in our current academy our test was their first test. One had no firefighting exposure at all just showed up and took the test

First things first! (Notice that this post mirrors FireMedic's post)

Knock out that EMT class and get some EMT work experience.

Work on your Fire Science AA/AS degree.

Keep testing for fire jobs wherever and whenever you can.

If you have not been hired in the fire service by then, get into a basic fire academy.

After the academy and as time allows now, do volunteer work. Become a reserve, vollunteer, auxillary or paid call firefighter.

If you have not been hired yet, start knocking out the general education classes at the University level.
As Captain Paul has related, it is very difficult to attend college while employed as a firefighter. Those general education college instructor can be merciless if you have to miss class just because you have a job as a firefighter.

I suggest you hold off on the University level fire science classes until you have a few years on the job. If you have to ask why, get over to the University Fire Science department and talk with the instructors and the Dean of the department. All you need to know as a Basic firefighter is what is taught in the fire academy. The AA/AS degree classes reinforces your fire academy training. The University level fire science classes are more related to management/technical education and those subjects are Fire Officer/Chief territory. As a boot firefighter, you sure don't want to go butting heads with a Captain or Chief over issues that don't concern you as a firefighter.

GO to the Junior College Fire Science Department and talk with the folks there as well. Each college has a Transition/Transfer Center. Counseling departments too.
GO to fire departments and set up an appointment to talk with on duty fire personnel. *Take snacks when yo go. Hoseheads will do most anything for food!*

Now, keep in mind that nothing you have done and nothing you will do, experience and education wise, entitles you to a badge. If you do all that has been suggested by anything posted, you can easily become discouraged and even angry when you don't get what you think you deserve. Do the math, work the numbers. You may see that with hundreds and thousands of applicants and even less openings, many will not be offered a badge. If you have a BS/BA degree and you are under the impression you should be hired because of that, you will be encountering rough terrain as those on the other side of the interview table may view you as a threat as chances are good they don't have a BS/BA degree. Hopefully, this is going to change in your career. Best wishes.

This message was edited by tomdeltazulu on 4-7-03 @ 11:06 AM

Question: Hi Capt. Bob!

I was wondering if you could or know somebody that could help me out? 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 a
Paramedic certs. 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 Grand-father 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 volunteer department has hired a lot of firefighter/paramedics in the
last 6 months... a lot! There has been some of those firefighter/paramedics
that couldn't cut the firefighting aspect of the job... so they were let go!
I have talked to a former Battalion Chief that has told me that
the department is getting the bottom of the barrel firefighter/paramedics
and should think about hiring great firfighter/emts to help protect the city.

Like my father said, "San Francisco used to have money to spend, spend &
spend"! Now with budget cuts and hiring of H-3s... $25,000 more then the
average H-2 (way over the budget)! I guess the medical service part of SFFD
was almost 39 million dollars, 3/4 over their targeted budget! Other Departments
that are starting to spend, spend & spend... could go down the same path!

*****THE QUESTION?******
What I'm really asking is... do you know of any studies done to help support
that hiring only firefighter/paramedics is actually hurting the District...
rather then helping it? Novato could hire more Firefighter/EMTs to help
with the majority of BLS calls around the district... also have those
firefighters that can do AWESOME fire attack on buildings!


I understand your dilemma. No, I don't know of any studies.

It must be killing you to see these guys hired and it's not you. Like it or
not, understand this. 75% of calls are medical in nature. 80%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. Only 35 medics made the last SFFD H-3 fire/medic list last time.

You're not the first candidate who has gone after an advanced four-year
degree and it has done little to help them get a job. Click here for more on this:

With all due respect to your family members, the playing field has changed.
Take the poison early and get into medic school. If you get picked up in the
mean time great. Don't plan on it.

Yea, there are non medic jobs out there. You have to place high enough on the oral to get a shot. How long can you tread water?

An associate just sent me this information from a fire officer who instructs Fire Protection or Fire Management programs at California State University Los Angeles. With the subject of wanna-bees desiring to get their BA/BS degrees confirmed what you and I already know about candidates in interviews showing up with BA/BS degrees. And that is they get either laughed out of the room or the interview panel becomes resentful and down goes the interview score! DUH!

What I think we are seeing is a tendency of candidates to "self-qualify" themselves for the badge and ignoring how the system really works. That "self-qualifying" also includes earning a BA/BS degree.

As we already know:

?Nothing counts ?til you have the badge . . . Nothing!?


Fire "Captain Bob"

I'm a 20 year old dropping out of college for financial reasons and i'm moving back home to Houston, Tx. I'm looking into firefighting. I've never really considered it but I think i might like it. What do you recomend i do? I was thinking about volunteering or doing reserves. If i wanted to become a full time firefighter what kind of school would i have to go to? What are the requirements? etc.

Steven Davis