Hello my name Devan Mills i have ask many different Firefighter's both Career, and Volunteer alike on the subject of school. The problem i am having is deciding upon what to take in college, i am hearing different things as what to take. Some tell me that a Fire Science degree is the right course to take, while others are telling me that i need to go and get my Firefighter/EMT diploma. I am currently a volunteer Firefighter, and i am wanting to make a career out of this. Any advice you may offer or any insight into the job would be very greatly appreciated.
What do you mean by a fire science degree and a FF/EMT diploma.....what is the difference? Is the FF/EMT diploma basically your state FF1, FF2 and EMT-B? Is the fire science degree a 2 year associates or a 4 year bachelors?
I disagree with any info of saying to hold off on education or a degree is for promotion. The job is challenging enough to get in without anything, so anything you can do to help your chances, go for.
I am a proponent of education and think it is a good avenue to pursue this career. Look at your tech/community college schools that offer an associates in fire science. An associates is a good start to get your foot in the door. Most AS programs are geared to get you what you need for the job (typically including fire certs) and is a 2 year program. If your dept will offer to pay for cert classes even before school, the better off you can be.
If you look at requirements for career FF, they differ all over. Some places ask for nothing but 18, HS/GED, DL, and some ask for a degree, fire certs, and paramedic. The beauty of school is you can still test for other depts while going to school. If you got picked up by a dept before graduating, you can always finish a degree later. However, majority of hiring processes for basically any career dept is long and dragged out. You can take a written, find out results a month or so later, wait for a physical agility a month or so after that, then interview, so on and so forth. A typical hiring process is from 6 months to a year or more. So what else to do while waiting? Go to school.
My recommendation is a 2 year Fire Science program where certs are included or at least you can obtain while attending. Also do EMT-B to start. Such FS programs may offer internships with area depts, some may be with career/combi depts where you may get assigned a station and shift, some may be live in programs. Check it out. If you get your degree and EMT and still looking for a job, then look into getting paramedic.
I would suggest paramedic first, but if you are not an EMT, chances are you can't even apply because EMT is required. If school is away from your current dept, look into getting on with a nearby dept. This can help with experience and try to get affiliated with a dept doing EMS at least as a basic. Nothing worse than getting paramedic students on a ride along who just completed EMT-B with no field experience.
So, go for the degree, get your certs, get EMT, if still waiting for a job, go for paramedic. The more you make yourself stand out, the better your chances. Look for depts doing a hiring or at least a list and apply when and where you can, that experience is also valuable.
Keep in mind that out here on the right coast, specifically SoCal, where there are 1000's of firefighters jobs and hundreds of departments, the competition has gotten pretty steep... When starting pay for 10-days a month is over 65K, you can bet that in these hard times the trend of having working professional opt for a career in the fire service as being more and more the norm.
The philosophy is starting to move to the "what can the candidate do for us mentality". Not that this is a bad thing... Having a CPA on the fire department means that someone can help ensure we aren't getting screwed by another department within the jurisdiction. It also means that this type of person is very difficult to compete against. With that said, it makes sense to prepare yourself as much as possible if you want to be competitive and land yourself a badge... full time... paid with benefits, etc.
Bottom Line: Listen to the sound advice of Chris, Adam and John... and me... more education = increased chances of getting hired full time... isn't that what you want to accomplish? Bring something to the table buddy, including things like work experience and certification as a paramedic, environmental response working with safety and two-in/two-out confined space work, electric company lineman/rigger, crane operator, dozer operator, pilot and on and on... there really is not a limit, you just have to stand out and be able to explain in your orals what you can bring to the table... which is both education and life experience.
Best of luck with your endeavors, and remember, only those who have taken the time to prepare get the badge... and the love of the community. It's really worth it, trust me on that one.
"Failure to prepare is preparing for failure... be prepared..."
I'd recommend looking at the specific requirements of the department(s) you think you will be applying to. If you were here in SoCal, a lot of departments are not hiring firefighters. They hire paramedics and train then to be FFs. My city's job requirement posting even says FF1 is desirable, but not required. Plus there is a educational bonus of 1% to 2%.
Educuation is something you will have your entire life. You can never get enough of it.
Most fire science programs include on EMT section. They know fire departments want a complete FF/EMT. If you go on a get a paramedic certificate with your FF degree you will have no trouble finding a career in the fire service. You may have to relocate though, I do not know what the opportunities are in your area.
Devan, find out what the surrounding fire dept. want you to have prior to applying for the job. Such as FFI/FFII/EMT/Paramedic/rookie firefighter training. Then, when you have the job they may pay for you college education such as a fire science degree. The associates degree you can spread over several years.
That's not true. Most big cities only test once every 2-4 years. Chicago tests every 10 years. Here in DC it's 2-3 and in NYC it's every 4. Most big cities also don't have the money to hire now anyway. In fact, many are currently cutting their staffing.