So ladies (and gents) I'm hoping you can help me out. I am currently a 20 year old female paramedic and am going to the fire academy in August. I am in fair shape, I was a gymnast until about 2 years ago. I have been going to the gym and starting to get my fitness back up but I am still really worried about the academy. Any tips or advice? I work hard but anything to help me through would be so much appreciated.

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By "academy" do you mean to go as a member of your current dept and obtain your firefighter certs, or do you mean as someone who has been hired on a fulltime dept and is about to embark on their training? I ask, because these are seriously two completely different worlds and expectations. The majority of those going to an "academy" for firefighter certs tend to make it through with relative ease. Such "academies" also tend to be through a tech type of college and run as part of a curriculum course....whereas an "academy" for an actual job tends to incorporate much more.


If you are looking at a certification type of academy, I would say don't sweat it. Such academies tend to focus on the basics of the job, where you will do ladder carries and raises, hose advances, force entry, etc, etc. Yes it does incorporate physical attributes, but when doing such procedures, focus on using your legs as opposed to upper body. The same could be said for anyone going into the fire service, while upper body is important, I have seen where legs and core are more predominent. The difference with an academy for a fulltime job is that they may tend to incoporate a lot more physical fitness into the training period and entails more job specifics aspects than a certification academy.

Good points.  I've went through both FFI and FFII at community colleges and through a full-time academy through a large department.  The smaller one was 8 hours per day for 1 day per week for a semester.  The city one was 8 hours per day for 5 days per week for 6-8 months.(changes)

The smaller academy was much easier.  They basically held your hand through it all.  It was much more focused on book work and practicing your skills.  The other one was much more detailed.  We showed up in the morning, had line up, marched in formation to raise the flag and pay respect to the anniversary of any DCFD LODD(had 100), changed for physical training, showered and prepared for class room/practical work, lunch, class room/practical work, cleaned the entire academy training grounds(sweep, mop, trash, etc), lined up in formation again, and then dismissed for the day.  Then throughout the day there would be random drills or towers to be run as punishment.  Every day was structured.

Everything is taught "by the book" at community college.  This is because members are part of different departments that might fight fire differently.  In the career department, we rarely went by the book.  I think we rushed through the book in close to a month and then took the tests.  This way they could say we passed that part to give us IFSAC certificates for FFI and FFII.  Then after that we were able to concentrate on the "DC way" of fighting fire which is definitely different.  

The full time academy was definitely more difficult.  We had an ambulance respond to the fire academy regularly during PT for the beginning.  People were going down left and right.  Some were weeded out well before we made it to the firefighting portion of the academy.  A couple Marines in the class compared it to Marine boot camp.

Kaitlyn, it is two different worlds as John and Cap have explained.  I have seen both worlds as a student or a teacher for example.


In an educational setting it has a no child left behind mindset. If a fire chief sponsors his firefighter for the program, he or she may be for example: overweight and probably not the ideal candidate for the class but the department needs certified firefighters.  The institution is there to teach the material.  Liability is on the fire chief. He signed the application.


In a full time fire department's "recruit school" or academy, they teach the candidate the material but it is tailored to the way that department expects it to be done. But ultimately the program has a "weed out the weak and keep the best" mentality because they are potentially hiring you for a career with their department.


Best of luck.

Thanks for the replies.  I am going to a community college and talking to the FFs it is very tough. We are not sponsered by any departments going through school here due to an abundance of trained people already. I don't know if that changes anything.

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