I am a 18 year old firefighter in a small town in rural missouri, I am wanting some educated input on what I should do for my college. I am attending a community college this fall but I am conflicted on what courses to take. Due to the outlook of paid positions for career firefighters is bleak to say the least and not really open to anyone under 21 years of age. I have been a junior firefighter since i was 12 years old and I am also the third generation firefighter, it is in my heart and soul. I am asking for your help in some guidance to either start my associates degree in fire science or start in another trade for now. Thanks for your time and input

Views: 553

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Getting your degree is never bad, I would recommend either oklahoma state, Eastern Kentucky(where I went), or University Of Maryland.

I ended up with a BS in Fire Science, but if I had to do it over again I would have minored in emergency Medical Services and came out with my degree and paramedic card.

Also there is a TON of very good online universities and you can take classes at your own pace and hold down a job at the same time.

Education is never bad, and the fire service is heavy EMS in all most all localities.


Bottom line is if this is what you really wanna do get your paramedic, get your degree, and apply EVERYWHERE! Do not be afraid to move to get your job, lots of jobs in other localities.

Good luck brother.

 All Branches of the Military have Firefighters. You can get a fire science degree, get real world experience & get paid for it. Most paid depts. give points to Vetrans.


In being a vollie since I was 14 and being the second generation FF in my family, My heart was set on being a carrer FF. I applied to a community college for Fire Science. Then one night, I thought to my self what was I thinking? Is that what I really wanted to do? I am not trying to turn you away from it, this is just my story, so please don't take any offense. I am currently at a Univeristy for Information Technology, a complete turnaround...lol. In my point of view, I love doing what I do as a volunteer, and plan to keep it that way.


Like I said this was only my experience, please take no offense.

In terms of work, you can get a job that is either related to fire science or one that is parallel. Electricians and general contractors can give you plenty of experience that will be useful on the fireground. If you can work with one now and get experience you can work with these trades on your days off as a paid FF.


Also, University of Maryland has one of the best Fire Science programs in the country. You can also ride as a FF in the surrounding Prince Georges County area as a volunteer. This volunteer region is about as serious as it gets and offers great experience. Volunteers in this area on the combo volly-paid county department are almost shoe-in candidates for each grauduating class.


Do yourself a favor and get away from your home state for school. It is important for personal growth. This opportunity only comes once in life...

I agree on the get your paramedic license and a college education and applying everywhere. My brother started out as a fire explorer since our dad was a firefighter for 12 years. Then when he hit 16, he joined the local vol. fire district (at the same station as our father - and with our mother's signing off on it since our parents are divorced and she had custody of him at the time). He got his training there and by going through fire/ems school at the local tech college. He then went back later since at that time it was not full paramedic included in that class and got that. After he got paramedic, he applied all over the place and was eventually hired. He has been with his new dept for 6 or 7 years already. He is the highest trained of all of the personnel and already has a ton of new members under him. I would say to stick with it if that is what you want to do and I wish you luck.

Answer this first... where are you trying to work?  What part of the country and big city or small?

Veterans points, yes, degree, no. Real world experience, yes, to a point.


What I mean here is when one enlists and gets a FF type of job, it varies from there. The Navy version has really two seperate FF jobs, Damage Control, which is everything but the flight deck of a carrier (helo carrier included) and AB (Aviation Boatswain Mate.....not sure on the specialty, there are several subclasses) which do ARFF and take care of the flight deck on carriers. On submarines, neither job exists. In the Navy Damage Control is considered everyone's responsibility (like every Marine is a rifleman) and those who are in the job are considered the experts.


With other branches it also depends on what they do and where they are. At one time military personnel were the base fire dept and so forth, today most base fire service is handled by civilian FFs.


The Air Force is probably most involved with their FF program and the only one that will give IFSAC certifications. (Other branches could too if they did go through the DoD fire school.....which most other military FFs won't see).


When it comes to a degree, this is something that one would have to do on their own. With distance learning and online programs, it is more possible to accomplish this now. Considering most degree programs are considered full time, it is tough to get the time to work on schooling while serving.



So while I agree on some points, I often see such recommendation on the military for someone to go fire service. Having gone the route of military, I would never suggest anyone look towards the military for some jump to a fire service career. Going in the military should be done for personal reasons, a person should have a very good understanding of what the military entails. It is a full time job and at least a four year committment and certainly not for everyone. One can try to work on college credits and so forth, but it truley is quite possible to do the same job in the military, get out, and not have that experience count because of some differences.

Why should it matter?

Which would YOU want to do, fire service or another trade?


Sure it is a tough road to land a career job and considering the unprecedented attacks on public workers and the fact of many places sacrificing lives and safety for dollars, is real.....making it tough to get a job. However, it is still possible to get a job, while the fire service may change and even depts change, you still have people retiring and considering the diversity of the fire service, there hasn't been a way to automate things now, which means there is still a demand for jobs. The caveat being how long, how hard, and how far, you are willing to land a job.


The job process for FF (for any size dept) is long and drawn out and can take years to get a job. You just can't apply and get hired on like many volly type of depts. There is a limited application period, a written test, physical agility, interviews, etc just to make a hiring list. A hiring list can be in "effect" for several years where you don't see another application period. Also being on a list does not mean one would get hired. So the process can be frustrating and humbling, especially if looking to get hired quick. That means you have to look everywhere, test often, and work on getting hired, it won't fall in your lap.



So for one to get hired it means you need to stand out and above those who are also vieing for the job. You are with a rural dept, you've been a junior for a long time, and third generation FF. In the eyes of a career dept, that means squat. Counting on your FF experience does not help in this case at all, but how you stand out. Just remember a good portion of those also testing for the job typically are other volunteer FFs too.


You can make yourself standout with a degree, an Associates will speak, a bachelor's speaks more, but depends on how you want to go and how much you want to spend. Personally I would focus on an Associates, and work on other certs and then work on a bachelors as you can.......your Associates should reflect for a bachelors. Get an associates, and then I would be looking on getting your paramedic. EMS today is more prevelant in the fire service, despite those who dislike EMS. Being a paramedic stands out more than an EMT-B which many others will also be. From there look at what you can get with your dept, driver operator cert, fire inspector cert, fire officer, and so forth. Take a look at going to the National Fire Academy for a course or two and so on. MAke yourself standout.


If you truly want to be a FF and if it is in your blood as you say, then you would work on getting that accomplished. If you focused on a different trade or degree area, chances are you will go into that area as a career, is it truly what you want? Whereas you can still have fire service education and paramedic and can work other jobs while working to land a career job.

It makes a huge difference.  I've worked for both small and large departments in different parts of the country.  There's obviously differences in what they are looking for.  

Preparation wise really makes no difference, why limit oneself to a particular dept type?


I have applied, tested, and made lists of several different dept types, from a very small VA Hospital FF position to FDNY and many in between. I was offered jobs for small suburban depts to large cities. My approach was always the same and it came down to being hired first.


It really didn't matter if one wanted to look at a big city dept or small suburb, or hometown, the hiring process is pretty much the same amongst the fire service. Application, take a written test, wait, take a physical agility, wait, interview, wait, another interview perhaps, wait and so forth. If one really wants to be a FF, they will look all over and not limit oneself to a particular dept or type.

In this area, the type of population you want to work for does matter in terms of preparation and what you want to bring to the table come hiring time.

Larger cities in both TX and LA expect no prior experience or training,and have their own academies (or will send you to LSU FETI in Baton Rouge) and will train you once you have been hired through the Civil Service process. About the only training or certification that may help you, in some larger departments, will be paramedic.

Most of the smaller fire districts in LA, and as I understand it, many of the smaller departments in TX do not train you and expect you to come on board with firefighting certs. For these departments, most of the time Paramedic is a huge plus. The downside is it almost guarantees that if hired, you will ride the bus all or the majority of the time.

To be honest, in this area, I doubt a college degree would do anything to increase your chances of being hired. It certainly does not even come close to the weight of paramedic, and in smaller departments, basic and advanced fire certs.

Reply to Discussion


FireRescue Magazine

Find Members Fast

Or Name, Dept, Keyword
Invite Your Friends
Not a Member? Join Now

© 2020   Created by Firefighter Nation WebChief.   Powered by

Badges  |  Contact Firefighter Nation  |  Terms of Service