I get my love for the fire service from my dad that has been fighting fire for 28 years and is planing on retiring in 4 years, he is a LT for a full time department in KS and can get his CPT because he doesn't have the degree for it. When did the little paper on the wall become more valuable then the knowledge that he has about the job? I under stand how in portent it is for someone my age and I am working on getting my degree, but should it really stop someone that is from the time where you didn't need a degree to your CPT? I geuss I just do get how they wount let him retire as a CPT. That is why I am bringing it up here, so any thing that can help explane this better to me.
Rules can change and it is the discretion of the chief to require a degree for promotion, etc. I work in a system based in seniority, but it is possible to go to a testing in the future, the key is to be ready and if one wants to be promoted, they should work to meet the requirements. The argument is, and will always be, the experience factor for such things, but if a degree is required for promotion, then the question becomes "how important is promotion to the old school firefighter?"
Matthew, congratulations on perusing your education. This is going to be very important to those of use walking into the fire service now. Every time the rules change, there are always those that get caught in the middle. My chief lost his EMT license due to a rules change about renewal times at the state level. The only way for him to get it back is by going back to school and take the course work all over again. Is this fair? I will not argue the semantics. Is it what happens? Yes.
As others have said, maybe your father could inquire with the chief. Otherwise, he will need the education. Is this new rule fair? Your chief seams to think it is the best for your agency. He is probably right. The thing is we are not getting the on the job training that we use to. Like it or not, this is going to be the way of the new fire service.
I wish the best of luck to both you and your father.
A degree not only shows that a person is motivated but is able to finish short term (classes, assignments) and long term (college degree) goals. An unfortunate side effect to education is knowledge, awareness, exposure to diverse people and schools of thought as well as improved reading, writing and speaking skills, not the least of which is grammar and spelling.
So in answer to your question as to whether or not a degree is "in portent", it is only important if it is desired to have the best qualified person for the job. Two people equal in experience, with one having a college degree and the other one not, then the best person would be the one with the degree, because of the reasons already given.
Another point here is that experience alone is limited to within the department and too often today the "old school" approach no longer applies. Education and a degree addresses changes, broadens views and ideas and encourages new ways of thinking and size up approach, vs "this is how we always done things" and this may be the reasoning to require a degree for promotion. Experience and education combined is much better than any one by itself, but again the question is not about the importance of a degree to the old school FF, but the importance of promotion. Believing that one should just be promoted because they have the years in experience, isn't leading by example to the younger generation of FF's where a degree is now required. Education here appears to be regarded as more important than the 28 years of experience.
I think there is a very fine line to be walked here. On one side you have the lets promote them because they look great on paper and have little experience but because they have a degree... I have seen alot of positions filled with people who have no business in the position but, because they have a degree they were more qualified for the job. Sorry, I'll take a "old school FF " backing me up any day. There alot things that a newbie is just not going to get to experience because of the way the fire service has evolved with new technology,new equipment, improved fire codes just to mention a few. There has to be a realistic approach to this. what is the value of on the job experience in terms of education?
Then on the other side there's the we'll he's been here so long.. just because you been on the job for a long time doesn't make you right for promotion. there are alot of FF who feel they can lead and there are those who can.
No one is saying a rookie should be made an officer because they have a degree, the issue here is more along the lines of "should a degree be required on top of several years experience?" I have no problem with this if the requirements were up front when the FF was hired, but I think it is unfair to change the rules after they've been in a number of years.
Let me propose a different scenario - I've been in nearly 20 years and have a Masters degree. At first glance, I would argue that I have better quals than someone with 20 years and no degree. Do I? Good question - this is what the department's promotion process is supposed to assess. A book smart firey with poor leadership skills who panics under pressure is not good. A brave doofus who has managed to not get fired for 20 years is equally unqualified. I would hope that the best guy gets the job, but education and training will have to weigh into the mix.
Well it just bugs me that they know that he is a good leader, they wouldn't of made him a LT if he was not. He has to be the officer that goes in, and he always has a new rookie to train. So the department knows that he is a good leader. I have seen people in that department get there LT after only being on for 5 years, because they kiss a**. So wear should the lines be at? what kind of guy would you like as CPT? The one with no degree that has been there for over 20 years and you know things will get done when you have him do it. Or the guy that has a degree and has been there for 10 years. I don't think you should be on for at lest 10 years before you get your LT and 15 years for CPT.
There is no right or wrong answer here, it is imposable for anyone to understand all the factors involved. It depends mostly on the knowledge gained from the experiences had. Around here the full time departments see between 2/3 and 1 call a shift. So for every 5 years they see between 400 - 600 calls. If you start looking at the time spent, say 2 hours for the average call, that is 800 -1200 hours in 5 years. Now look at the college degree, (8 semesters X (15 credit hours/semester X 15 classroom hours per credit hour)) + ((30 study hours X 15 credit hours/semester) X 8 semester) = 5400 hours involved in the studies. Do these numbers mean anything side by side? NO. So where is the line? Certainly no one lest maybe the educated rookie will think the studies substitute for the experience. But does the guy with a degree and 5 years of service out weigh the guy with 7 years experience, how about 10 years? There is no formula that will work for everybody.
The problem that your father is experiencing is not isolated to just the Kansas City FD. It's everywhere and you will see this trend do nothing but increase as time goes by. The job market out there is very competitive, which means that folks who would have been employed as an architect, engineer, or even an attorney are competing to get into the fire service.
What was once a job that required nothing more than your signature on a piece of paper compared to now where you now have to have completed EMT, a fire academy and whatever additional requirements that may be thrown in. The competition for the few jobs out there is going to get even more competitive as time goes by. If you are not prepared for this, plan on either never getting hired full time and never promoting past the rank of firefighter. Competing against someone who has spent the time getting their masters for example is tough. They've already spent six-years learning how to compete in both the oral and written components of what we call promotional testing.
Simply put, if you want to work in this profession now, folks like your Dad need to have the educational background to keep up. To not do so means that your dreams and aspirations to promote will remain just that... a dream.