Im a volunteer firefighter in Washington state. My question is: Should I go into the Air Force to be a Firefighter or go to the Army and be a Field Medic. I plan on being a fire medic after I get out of the military. Im just very unsure on the route I am going to take.

Views: 3671

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Having worked with a bunch of guys who served our country prior to entering the fire service I wanted to reinforce that regardless of which branch you decide to serve, many departments give veteran point credits for testing.

Having been one of the first certified paramedics in California and a paramedic school instructor in the early 70's, I have had the chance to watch the EMS world grow. I don't want to lessen the experience of being a medic in the service. All good stuff to give you a real awesome experience level once reaching your eventual goal of becoming a career firefighter down the road. With that said, and forgive me for being very blunt here, I don't think you are heading in the right direction.

More than likely, as people read this post, you will get a lot of support and opinions about which branch of the service would be best. I don't disagree that going into the service will not prove to be very useful in your fire service endeavors, it's just that focusing on the medic thing really is a short term goal in the big picture.

Again, I'm not slamming paramedics cause I is one... or was certified years ago and that's my point. The medic gig in the fire service is nothing more than a stepping stone along the career path. Don't ever loose track of that fact.


If you are going to take the time to enlist and serve your country, with the goal of eventually becoming a firefighter, then please consider the air force and their CFR (Crash Fire Rescue) programs. You get to both do the medic thing as well as start to gain a better understanding of the job, and from some pretty exotic places around the world... and you get to bring back to the civilian world a real understanding of ARFF and CFR. You also have to ask yourself how many departments provide ARFF at airports across the country.

The folks in my department who had prior Air Force CFR experience were very difficult to compete against during promotional examinations. What you learn as a military medic is sometimes considered to be detrimental considering your scope of practice with the military verses being a civilian firefighter. Take those enlisted years and give yourself on the job hands on experience doing the job as a firefighter. it will go a lot further career wise unless of course you are happy with staying at the firefighter rank for your entire career... Not that this is a bad thing, it all depends on your personal goals.

If you still are interested in doing medic work when you get out, then consider going to a paramedic school here in the states, and couple that experience with your CFR military background... your untouchable brother!

Good luck with your decision.

Paid dept.'s like military experience. My advice would be to do which one you think will make you more happy in the meantime.
I've been a Federal Firefighter for about 19 years now. The Air Force has created a Department of Defense Firefighter Certification program that defines how Federal Firefighters do business on military bases across the country. Their certifications are all based on NFPA standards and are required to advance in the fire department. There are some guys who come out of the Air Force with enough certifications to compete for Fire Officer positions. Army Medics are EMT-B's, mostly with an expanded scope of practice. Serving in the Army as a medic is a great way to go, but when you get out the EMT certification may not help you as much as those DoD certifications.
The reality is that you don't need to do either job to become a fire medic after serving, vet points matter, not the job you did while serving. Don't join just to gain experience that you think will land you a career position, it really doesn't matter. Education matters, certs matter, vet points matter, not the job you did while serving.

Now, if looking to serve because you WANT to serve, look at what each branch offers. Marines do NOT have medics, they use Navy Corpsman, so if you wanted to be with Marines as a medic, you have to go Navy.
To be honest here, which job do you think will give you better experience for such a career as a fire medic? Firefighter, which you probably have some experience, or medic, where you can really hone skills in pt care, because you WILL have patients, you may not ever get a fire. You can train a monkey to stretch a hose by throwing bananas down the hall.

The same advice I give to everyone looking at the military.....go in because you want to serve, not for some experience you somehow think will launch you in a civilian job. It doesn't matter what job you do in the military, anyone can be a firefighter. Despite what job one does, obtain college credits and courses offered....find a school you want to go to before getting out and use your GI Bill for education.

Reality is that your certs may or may not transfer. As a medic you do have a chance to get National Registry Paramedic, which does transfer more easy than some fire certs. However, most depts don't care about your military experience and want DEGREES and education, which is why one should look into schooling.

IMO, if I did the military thing all over and it was down to AF for FF or Army for medic, I would go medic. Medic spots are easier to get right now than FF, you learn pt assessment and treatment skills which mirror the civilian world. Most FF certs can be obtained within a semester at a tech school, paramedic is basically a year, with clinical and ride times required, and tough to get if unaffiliated with an ALS service.

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