When it comes to getting ahead in the fire service you can only go so far. As a volunteer I would like to move on to become a paid firefighter! What i'm looking for is opoins on schooling and what is the best school, or does it depend on the sate or the company itself? What have some of you done or doing to make the next step to make firefighting your career?

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Well, I can speak for Texas. The professional or paid firefighters are certified by Texas Commission on Fire Protection. Many areas of the state offer the basic firefighters academy, over 500 hours. Volunteers, if thier department so chooses, is overseen by the State Firemans and Fire Marshals Association of Texas. They follow a similiar guideline to certify all volunteers. once you reach advanced firefighter in SFFMA, you have met basic qualifications for TCFP. Challenge the state test and pass and you can become a paid firefighter. Education is never ending and always a challenge in the fire service, I keep learning new things all the time. Im looking to get my Master Firefighter Cert. soon from SFFMA. Keep training hard and studying all the time.
I know in VA, both paid and volunteer's go through the same training. But it does not matter in this state if you have the training when becoming a paid firefighter, or are paid and switch county's. You still have to go through that County's fire acadamy. There are still a few outlining county's that will take someone with all the basic fire cert's and hire them and put them right into a station just to get their staffing up, but even they are becoming few and fare between. As those county's grow, they no longer need to reley completly on volunteers. The county I live in does not have any paid firefighters. All of our stations are staffed by volunteers. All we have a paid medics, and to few of those right know. I live in one of the fastest growing county's in the US, and we are outgrowing our fire departments, and still not picking up any new volunteers.
In Michigan, all volunteer firefighters are required only to have Firefighter I within 24 months of starting, and full time Firefighter II within 24 months. We have no state academies, but a common thing seems to be an Associates Degree in Fire Science. It also seems like everyone wants their full-timers to be at least Basics or Paramedics these days. Full time jobs are really difficult to get though because there's so much competition. Many big cities will get 5,000 applicants for 20 positions! After all, it is the most admired job in the U.S.
To get past the written test go to any book store look in the proffesional development section and get a book on firefighter exams there are a couple different types all with practice tests. College look no further than Eastern Kentucky University, University of Maryland, or Oklahoma State. Those are the only colleges that offer 4 year degrees in fire science topics. EKU having the most undergrad topics and now 2 masters degree programs one for fire admin, and the other in fire engineering.

Good hands on training go to FDIC in Indy a week there and you can take hands on training from the best in the buisness and also go to class room sessions from them as well. I have been to Indy once and FDIC east twice. Here are the guys who you should look into readin articles from and taking classes form if they come any where close to your area.

Engine Ops: Dave Mcgrail Denver FD, John Newell FDNY
Truck Ops: Mike Ciampo FDNY, Mike Dugan FDNY, Mike Nasta Newark NJ, Bob Pressler FDNY
Forcible Entry: Robert Morris FDNY
Command: John Salka FDNY, Rick Lasky Lewisville Texas, Alan Brunacini Phoenix Arizona
Reading Smoke: Dave Dodson (a must have class)
RIT: Jim Mccormack INDY
EMS: Gary Ludwig
Building Construction: Frank Brannigan RIP (In fact while your at the book store buy Building construction for the fire service 3rd edition)
Misc: Jim Mason Chicago, Skip Coleman Toledo, Ron Moore, Mike Lombardo, Anthony Avillio, Andy Fredricks (RIP), John Sullivan Worchester

And of course last bu not least the trend of the fire service is EMS so embrace it and possibly look into an Advanced Life Support class. Hope this helps and good luck. Also it might help to do some internet searching to see who is hiring this site is pretty good www.emsfirerescuejobs.com

I don’t know much about PA but here in NC you have 2 basic routes. You can go to work for a municipal department or you can work for a county department. Most municipal departments will send you through rookie school and you can spend your whole career with them and move up, where as most county and single or 2 station departments require you to have your certifications when you hit the door and have some paid experience or a lot of volunteered experience- most of these are combination departments. You can grow with either one but you may have to jump from station to station with the county option to become a chief- you may not. You need to decide which way you want to go- and go after it.
Put in EVERY time you see an opening. Hit the web pages of the cities around you and put in for it. List your volunteer experience. The more you interview the better you get and the better feel you get for the type of questions asked. Stand in front of the mirror and rehearse answering the questions you think they will ask, If you don’t know don’t BS. Tell them what you think- If you are asked about arriving on a working fire with a known rescue and you are off duty what will you do- Don’t lie tell them what you would do not the PC answer: an example would be- I would notify dispatch of a working fire, I would do a 360 and size it up and if, based on my experience and knowledge of fire behavior, I felt the structure was reasonably tenable and I had a reasonable chance to effect a rescue I would notify dispatch I was making entry on a L hand search and attempt the rescue. Go visit the chief of the department you want to work for and ask him what he is looking for. He will tell you- he wanted to get hired at one point too, and he may just remember you. Dress up for interviews-suit, tie the whole nine yards.
DON’T GIVE UP! It could happen tomorrow it could take years.
GET A DEGREE. I am tiring to move up the ladder and have realized this is now a must. No more good ole boy. You can get them online now, which is what I am doing. Costal Carolina Community College.
Don’t let anybody belittle your volunteer experience, most people in the fire service that don’t like volunteers don’t understand the system and feel somewhat threatened by the concept that someone does it for free, or had a bad experience with a YeHa! (I am paid and volunteered, we all know they exist and I am not bashing the volunteer service by any means, I believe in it and love my volley department!). Fact of the mater is as time goes on and it becomes harder to fill the volunteer positions more paid spots open up.
Go to classes, get certifications, and network.
Good luck- It will happen you just have to work at it.

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