Hey Fellow Brothers and Sisters,


I am just wondering everyones thought on this subject. Here is my senario, I just took the Fire Engineers exam for the 2nd time. The first time I was #6 out of #7 and was told I need to be more involved in our Department, so I became very involved with powerpoint presentations on engine systems that were new to our dept and a water tender PPT that was to be used for certification process and now working on one for our OES units. so I went into the process which included and written, outside orals, fire simulator (Acting Captain), Practical (Pumping and Driving) and inside orals. I did well but our department weighs heavy on education (extra credit points for having a Bachelors, AS and Fire Officers). I do not have a California Officers Certificate or a Fire Science Degreeor Bachelors (In progress but not finished). This year I finished #8 out of #9 (Frustrating) and was told that because of education it held me back, so school here I come. I have 12 years experience as a full-time firefighter but have been in the field for 17 years. I know I am ready and I feel I will bring more to the position than the others which were first-timers. I am old school and know education is the way to the future but I chose experience and lets say field smarts to get me where I am and when I went to the academy in 1991 you did not walk out of there with all these State Cert's. I am 37 a family man not young and single and it is hard, but can be done. How does everyone else feel about this issue? I am very driven and will make corrections as I learn this process and will do what it takes, but because I am missing some piece of paper should that hold me back?


Be Safe,

Driven Engineer Canidate

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I had a plant supervisor many years ago who had 2 different engineering degrees, and probably couldn't find his way home unless a book told him how to get there.

I've known many paramedics who could recite the book forwards and backward, but had the skills of a slug.

My point is; Education is important in any profession. Everything in nature strives to maintain balance. Without the skill, experience, and common sense, all that book knowledge alone can make one an educated fool.
All things (qualifications, experience) being equal, additional education shows an employer that an individual has initiative and follow-through. I agree that getting a degree is time consuming and can be expensive but if it's what your department requires then it's in your own best interest to get an appropriate degree.

While many think that firefighting is still only a hands-on, blue collar 'trade', the fact is that with all of the additional requirements imposed on fire departments, leaders with continuing/higher education "suggest" a better, more well rounded individual. Besides the management side of the job (as an officer) simply staying up to date on technology, Haz-Mat, WMD and meth labs, not to mention your EMT certs if you have them, there are just so many areas in which an education can make a person both a better firefighter and a better leader.

Don't kid yourself, 37 is not too old to go back to school. Find out how and where other (successful) candidates got their degree (and in what). If your department accepts an on-line degree (distance learning) then go that route, it's far cheaper and can be done accelerated or at your own pace. Although practically, nothing really beats sitting in a classroom with the interaction of other students and professors.

Good luck.
Chris i can see that you have a mix of training and expierence which i think your department is overlooking. A captain i served under used to have a saying,"throw the book into a fire and count to ten, if the fire dont go out, you have go in and do it yourself". Placing education in front of expierence is dangerous (in my opinion) because you dont throw water around in a college lecture hall. In my carrear a training officer tried to nullify my education because i didnt get it in the state i now reside in. at promotion time he tried unsucessfully to say that my "college" education didnt meet the standards of the state i current reside in. i pettitioned the state fire college for a judgement and they granted it. i suggest you try to do the same, gather all of your relivant education and see if it matches up to what your state offers for certification. Good luck and dont give up.

the struggle has its own rewards
In my opinion both should weigh equally on the scale when considering promotions...Book knowledge will only get you so far without hands on, and hands on if never properly taught may not be enough to make one as successful as the one who has both book smarts and technical skill.

Correct (to a point). All other things being equal, the one that exceeds in one or the other might be the better candidate. But when your department requires a degree then experience counts only to a point. After that it's all about the letters on the diploma. And to be fair, two candidates of equal experience with one having an Associate's Degree and the other a Bachelor's, who do you think should get it?
I agree with much of what has been said here, so I'm not going to reiterate it. What does come into question is those who scored and ranked above you. They may have the same prctical skills and abilities and may have further education, which is why you may be where you are. Should dedication to pursuing and accomplishing a degree be given any less consideration?

Point is, the promotion system depends on your dept. Some place education higher than time in service, some vice versa, there are depts where it is seniority driven and you promote with time in service. There are pros and cons to every way to promote, and the education aspect is one of them. If fliiping things around and a person does have a degree and further education and the same practical skills as you, who would you promote?
ya know this is a subject that has been on my mind as well. In all honesty the education is becoming a part of every job everywhere... even at McDonald's if you are a certain age you are required to have a high school diploma. With any job the more education you have the better off you will be. In the fire service however, i noticed that through all the training that I sat through, nothing compares to being on the actual fire scene. The training is just that... training. The only way you learn is by hands on experience, messing up, and learning from your mistakes. I think the way you preform on scene and the way you handle situations should determine many things. But that is a personal opinion, in the end its life and we just have to suck it up and get what we need to succeed.
That would depend on the position IMHO. Now if you were talking about two people who decided to become Firefighters, you have an Associate's Degree in Fire Science let's say, and I have a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, well let's just say that I'd hope your training would weigh in your favor more than mine would...However, when we opened up the process for hiring a new Fire Chief, as ours is retiring, one of the qualifications was a Bachelor's Degree (in what I cannot recall)...would I want someone with 30 years but only aspired to attain a Associate's vs someone with 30 years of equal experience that achieved more education in that position...I'd lean more toward the one with the higher education. To some it would seem the one that achieved higher education has a stronger drive to improve themselves and climb up the ladder.
Is this for a right seat officer's position or an apparatus engineers (driver) position?
i think that a department should weigh all things out and then make the call. years of service can not be replaced by years in the books. in the fire service the experience could be way more important then years in the books, for one reason, in today's fire service we are not seeing the same amount of fire and lets face it u can't truely train for fire by sitting in a class or even in a fire building. but then again a BS should also play a huge role also because once again in today's fire service we are seeing more math and science being put into the fire work. such as pump preasure and spreading a car door is not as easy as it use to be with the way cars are being made today.

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