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Hey guys and ladies. I'm a noob here and to the world of Fire Fighting. I have always wanted to help people in the way that Fire Fighters do but never had a chance to do what I felt. Don't get me wrong, I'm not lazy. I simply lacked guidance. I hold a BS in Electronic Engineering and MBA in Global and Health Care Management. And, with the economy I have been dealt a different card where the Health Care Management specialization is not being used. I have a pretty good, well paying job but, I feel like I am constantly on the episode of The Office or Office Space. "It's not that I'm lazy, I just don't care". The point is that there has always been something missing. From the day when I turned 22, after my first major accident (my fault) I remember Fire Fighters telling CPD not to give me any citations as they actually though I was one of them (Fire Fighter plates and looking very fit). As they proceeded towards making sure that everyone was ok, I thought to myself that this is a very rewarding career. Am I looking for recognition? I think we all are in some sense. But, I think it's more about giving back and being able to say that I've accomplished something good in life. So, the question is; Is it wise to give up years of schooling and a fairly steady career (despite not liking it) for being a Fire Fighter and starting the process at 27 years of age. To complicate things, I just purchased a house and am not sure if it's even financially feasible to keep up with the house and go to school for Fire Fighting. From what few of the guys told me after asking if I have a degree "just give him the badge", it is still recommended. Any thoughts?

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Well, from my point I was kinda in the same boat. I started a sign company until I could get hired with a fire dept. The sign company was kinda fun at times provided for my family and paid the bills but that was about it. It took me 9 years of civil service testing to finally get in, that was mostly because of hiring freezes in my area. I to felt as if something was lacking in my life, and dreamed of the day I would finally get the call. 9 years later I did, and it has been life changing. I truelly believe that firefighting is the greatest job in the world, you will have your work place drama and it wont always be sunshine and flowers. However the good times out weigh the bad, not to mention the security stand point of it. I no longer have to worry about my pay check because I know every two weeks it will be there, I dont have to worry about health care, retirement and the biggest thing you really dont have to worry about the fire dept. going out of business. I would defiantly weigh your options and think hard about it but if you go through with it and land a job I can almost guarantee you wont regret it. When I eventually got hired I was 29 years old so I wouldnt let the age thing bother you. I wish you the best of luck and hope things work out for you.
Take care
Thanks a lot Shawn. I'm glad to see that there are people in a similar situation. Although, my job has a secure pay check and insurance, this is only the case now as I have been laid off before, and found myself in the same line of work. Had I taken time off from work I might've made a different choice. But, I took the most sensible option and took an offer. Can I ask how you coped with the family, work and school? With having your own business I'm sure that it was easier because you made your own schedule. With a corporate job it may be hard to do. This is the reason why I mentioned dropping the corporate job for good and going to school with relation to keeping up with everything. It seems to me at this time that I decide to do this, this is exactly what I will have to do. And than, what happens if I do not have a job (with mortgage payments). Anyone else, please, chip in too. There isnt enough information online to help answer this. Only life experience can. I will most likely be visiting a local Fire Dept. but I find that its easier to get an answer online than bothering those guys.
Thanks to everyone in advance.
Mike.
Contacting your local fire dept will be your best bet. I did go and put myself through a fire science degree. However when you get on the job chances are they will put you through the academy anyways so you will be tacking most of the same classes over. Some people say its a good idea to put your self through others say dont waste your time and money. The one thing I can recommend is that you do look into getting your emt or paramedic because that will make a big difference. Like I said though, contact your local dept and find out exactly what you need to have to get on the job and when they may be offering a test or excepting applications. You might want to drop by one of the houses and talk to a couple guys that just got on to find out what they had to do, this will be the most helpful for you. If you lived in NY I could offer you more advice on what you have to do. Take care
Thanks again Shawn. I will be heading, hopefully, to a local Fire Station this week. I suppose if I have to work on something the rest of my life, it might as well be something I want to do.
Never too late, in my opinion. I can't answer the question if you should give up the career you have now for a career in the fire service, but I can say that your education will continue to help you down the road. I think that being a little older and more mature than others makes you a stronger prospect for a department not a negative. However, I know that some departments do have age limits...so you may want to check into that. I started when I was 29 so I don't think you are really pushing the age thing until you are 40 looking for the first job. As you already have heard this is a great job with unbelievable benefits in health and retirement which is really important to have these days. With all the departments across the country suffering layoffs it may be a risky thing to switch to right now, but I wish you all the best.
Thank you Mark. I keep reading all of the posts and requirements and am trying to follow my heart. In this case, to me, it is comparable to that girl that you were eye balling since High School. You know, that hot cheerleader :) I just don't to give up what I have to have my heart broken in the end. Being persistent and brave is great, when you still live at home and can be supported by your parents. But, the bigger the risk, the higher the reward. I do want this but the more I read about actually getting in and passing all of the proper exams, it starts to appear as if I just graduate H.S. and will have to live on bits and pieces until I finish college. The fact that you got in at 29 makes me feel much better about the process. Were you able to do all of this without the safety and security (financial) of being "at home"? Or were you already "on your own"? I know it may be a personal question but am just trying to get a feel for it. Thanks again for your input.
Mike.
Mike,

When I was hired I was married with one young child, renting a home. Financially it was a very difficult time through the academy but in the end it was worth it, without question. Funny thing is that I work for a different department now, but I look back on those days and cherish them because as difficult as it was, it was a great time in my life. If it is something you really want then you will find a way to make it work. I would imagine it is not an easy process to decide to change your career path and all the while realizing that getting a job in the fire service is not easy. I started testing when I was about 21 and was not hired until I was 29...long time to wait. I am not suggesting it would take that long but that was my story. I really think that being more mature will help you and having life experience will also make you a better candidate. No worries about personal questions, happy to answer any questions you have. Feel free to ask me more if you like...good luck.

Mark

Michal Stankiewicz said:
Thank you Mark. I keep reading all of the posts and requirements and am trying to follow my heart. In this case, to me, it is comparable to that girl that you were eye balling since High School. You know, that hot cheerleader :) I just don't to give up what I have to have my heart broken in the end. Being persistent and brave is great, when you still live at home and can be supported by your parents. But, the bigger the risk, the higher the reward. I do want this but the more I read about actually getting in and passing all of the proper exams, it starts to appear as if I just graduate H.S. and will have to live on bits and pieces until I finish college. The fact that you got in at 29 makes me feel much better about the process. Were you able to do all of this without the safety and security (financial) of being "at home"? Or were you already "on your own"? I know it may be a personal question but am just trying to get a feel for it. Thanks again for your input.
Mike.
I was in the same boat 5 years ago. I had a well paying job as an inspector for a major airline. It was my dream job I worked my tail off to get there, but something was missing. At age 32 I started volunteering for the local fire house and was hired full-time 2 years later at 34. I am still there it is very rewarding, but don't get the attitude people owe you recognition because you might set yourself up for disappointment. Another thing if you volunteer at a department that has career personnel as well don't get cocky. We are going through that now I like to call 'em "guys who just want a fire pager and t-shirt". Good Luck!
Thanks Dave. Can I ask if you did any additional courses while being a volunteer or did you simply work at your job and volunteered? I am referring to courses like EMT, or any Fire Safety courses. If yes, how did you find time for that. My biggest dilemma is that I can't find any courses that are scheduled for nights. I understand that you have to eat, sleep, breath getting prepared to be a Fire Fighter. But some things get unrealistic at times.
Thanks in advance.
Sorry it took so long to get back Michal. I did every course that I could. I attended EMT class on Tuesday and Thursday nights for 4 months. Went to every fire school on the weekends from March til October. The state of Kentucky require 150 hours to be considered volunteer status and be eligble to be hired full-time. Our department has a 2 year time frame on obtaining this 150 hours. I did it in 9 months. After your 150 certified and hired you have to reach 400 hours within a year to get State incentive pay of $3100 a year. I got my 400 as a volunteer right as I was hired in 2 years time frame. This was not an easy task, the hours are in specific categories not always offered locally so I spent alot of time traveling on the weekends as I mentioned before. If not for a good support staff at home I don't know if I would've made it. I did not mention before I was married and had 2 kids at home supporting me through it all and for that I am grateful. Good Luck to you if you have any questions that I can help email me direct at d.curtis1@insightbb.com.

Michal Stankiewicz said:
Thanks Dave. Can I ask if you did any additional courses while being a volunteer or did you simply work at your job and volunteered? I am referring to courses like EMT, or any Fire Safety courses. If yes, how did you find time for that. My biggest dilemma is that I can't find any courses that are scheduled for nights. I understand that you have to eat, sleep, breath getting prepared to be a Fire Fighter. But some things get unrealistic at times.
Thanks in advance.

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