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What type of person does it take to be a firefighter?

Being in the fire service for only 11 years now, I have seen a few recruits come in and out of the fire service. I am wondering what the FE Community has to say about; what type of person does it take to become a firefighter? If you could choose a certain type of person. What would that person be like? What would be his personality traits? How should he act around the fire house?

Your friend,
Todd McKee

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Todd,

If you're talking about personality types....like type A or B.....I don't think there is a specific personality that's required for this occupation. In my opinion it doesn't matter if you're a type A or B because we need both in the fire service. What matters in the fire service to be a good firefighter is a persons moral and ethical values, work ethic, and teamwork participation. I think if a person works hard, can get along with other firefighters, and follows traditional fire service values they'll be successful as a firefighter.

Jason
A few words that sum it up for me are: honesty, integrity and dedication. It seems to me that the "younger generation" are in it for the wrong reasons. It's like they wake up one morning and decide to become firefighters. They go get the degree, get hired and immediately want a pay raise and promotion. The fire service needs to get back to tradition and the "true brotherhood". Fist bumping and calling each other "brother" doesn't mean a thing. How about trying hard work, training hard and just plain giving a hoot about each other and the department? Although we have seen many changes over the years, the job still boils down to the basics. Granted not everyone is like this......but it definitely isn't what it used to be. The changes can still take place, but we still need to be a "family". There are people I work with who I really don't care for, but there is no one that I wouldn't risk my life to save! How many of this new generation would take that risk?
I totally believe it has to be a calling for wanting to help out your fellow citizens at the possible worst time in their life. Many look at this job as a pay check. That's not it at all for me especially as a volunteer. To me it's giving of yourself to help the betterment of your community and its guest and residents. I believe that within the organization you have to have a family atmosphere. You have to have enough respect for everyone that shows to help because they ultimately might be the one helping you in the future. There will always be disagreements but that's what happens with families. It also boils down to pride honor and respect in my opinion. If you have pride in what you do it will show and then comes the honor of being a part of something. And if you show your other members that you respect them they will in turn show you the respect as well. The ones that don't well they are in it for the wrong reasons. Young people today expect things instead of the giving that comes with this profession.
I think all the answers are good. Of course there is no one size fits all. If I had to pick one [or three] things, I would say want to be a firefighter because you want to train/work hard because you can do something for a fire victim that nobody else can do [except for another firefighter], put out the fire and save lives and property, offer advice to the victims as how to "what do I do now". From early childhood I was always taught "do a job as if you was going to have to put a big sign on it "this was done by _________" and also in a religous point of view "Do all you say or do as unto the Lord". I am encouaged by the replies I read. Excuse my spelling please, johnny
Todd,
The variety of replies make sense, but I personally feel that vocation is probably the most important, or at least primary trait the all aspiring and serving fire fighters should have, whether they be paid / career, on-call, volunteers or company fire brigade members. When I got into this more than 50 years ago, vocation meant a lot. Over the years, I have seen more and more self-interest and pure economics as being prime reasons for many new recruits. But I still think that vocation is still what really makes people get into fire fighting as a life long profession, or "hobby". Another very influential factor is tradition. How many sons and daughters, grandchildren and on do we know who are third or fourth generation members.

Of course, the factors and characteristics mentioned by Jason, Brent, Christopher and so on are important. Unfortunately we have seen a few, very few, rotten apples in the baskets, who at times have had very negative effects on our global image. Lukily these are discovered sooner or later and properly routed out before the can cause major damage.

Todd, you are now a "seasoned" veteran, with an accumulation of knowledge, experience and personal values that you can pass on to those youngsters who more often than not look up to you for inspiration. This goes out to all of you; influence and inspire those who look to fire fighting as a possible career. I am proud of these years spent in active fire fighting and training. Looking back, I don't see any other activity that I could have gotten into and enjoyed, suffered and yet felt so satisfied. When you can make your living doing something you really enjoy, you really don't have any other choice.
Keep safe out there.
Hello Gentlemen,
My name is Oscar and I am currently serving my sixth year in the U.S Army. I will be getting out around Dec 2010. I have been thinking about becoming a firefighter. The answers I have read here have been helpful, but I am wondering are there certain skills or general characteristics a person should have to be a firefighter? Is there an age limit you have to be under to apply? Any information will be appreciated. Thanks for what you do!
The desire to be part of something larger than themselves, the integrity to know that your actions count regardless if anyone finds out about them or not, the desire to learn and apply knowledge and the ability to think outside the box are examples to begin with. Most importantly, all wrapped up within a thick skin.

Oscar,
I've got a couple questions for you. What is your MOS (Military Occupational Specialty in civilain speak)? Are you looking to volunteer, be paid or do you even know yet? Have you figured out where you want to live when you ETS? Are you looking to stay Guard or Reserve?
You shouldn't have to worry about age being a factor. Many people walk in off the street and become great fire fighters. Some paid departments have certifications that you need in order to get hired. It all depends on the department. Being in the military has already given you a lot of the characteristics you'll need and many departments have a favorable opinion of prior military members who are applying. The fire service is structured similar to the military with many of the same traits of tradition, heritage and operation. If you have taken pride in your military service and are not a Blue Falcon or POS you shouldn't have any problems.

Good luck,
Walt.
Walt,
Thank you for the reply. Well my MOS is Transporter Operator but, the first two deployments I was a art of pulling convoy security. I have driven both a HUMMVEE and the new MRAP's I was also a gunner in both. This deployment I am on right now I sit in our company CP and monitor our companies convoys that go out. I am definitly looking for fulltime and long term. I do not want to get out and bounce around from job to job. My wife and I would like to live around central Florida, Orlando, Winter Haven, Lakeland, Lake Wales. Staying in the Gaurd or Reserve is definitly a possibility. I have enjoyed serving our country and the military has served me well. There are of course things that I disagree with, but I would say that is normal. I definitly have thick skin but I am not so thick skin that I am uncompassionate. Again thanks for the reply!
Oscar

Todd "Walt" Walton said:
The desire to be part of something larger than themselves, the integrity to know that your actions count regardless if anyone finds out about them or not, the desire to learn and apply knowledge and the ability to think outside the box are examples to begin with. Most importantly, all wrapped up within a thick skin.

Oscar,
I've got a couple questions for you. What is your MOS (Military Occupational Specialty in civilain speak)? Are you looking to volunteer, be paid or do you even know yet? Have you figured out where you want to live when you ETS? Are you looking to stay Guard or Reserve?
You shouldn't have to worry about age being a factor. Many people walk in off the street and become great fire fighters. Some paid departments have certifications that you need in order to get hired. It all depends on the department. Being in the military has already given you a lot of the characteristics you'll need and many departments have a favorable opinion of prior military members who are applying. The fire service is structured similar to the military with many of the same traits of tradition, heritage and operation. If you have taken pride in your military service and are not a Blue Falcon or POS you shouldn't have any problems.

Good luck,
Walt.
That gives me some idea of what you are looking at so hopefully I can make some suggestions that would help.

The reason I asked about the Guard is because one of they guys I work with FT used to be in our unit and after getting on the FD he "crossed into the Blue" and joined the Air Guard to become a FF. They sent him to AIT and he got FF1, FF2, HAZMAT, EMT, etc. That helped when he applied to be a Fire Fighter/Operator for our combination department because he already had a lot of training. The Guard of old is gone for any service because of the current military op tempo and he has deployed twice for 4 months each. He also needles me a lot about the difference between Army and Air Force standard of living. That would be one option for you to maintain your military status and get trained. Not sure which Air Force base would be near the areas you listed but it would be worth checking out.

You can also attend a community college that offers a Fire Science or similar degree that will get you most of the basic training you'll need. This would be why I asked about the GI Bill. If you look at colleges make sure you find out what kind of placement rate they have so you can ensure our tax dollars are put to good use with your education.

With that being said, the best thing you can do is to contact the departments in the areas you and find out what it takes to get on their department and what they are looking for in prospective employee's. It would be ideal if you could visit some stations and talk to the guys to determine how they feel about the department and equipment. FF's are a lot like GI's, they'll b**** and complain but also tell you what they think about their department just like GI's talk about their unit.

Since you are also doing your time in the dirt, where are you at? I'm in Baghdad running convoy security as a medic.

If you have other questions let me know or drop me a line.

Hope this helps,
Walt.
I have been looking at some colleges in the area my wife and would like to live. I will definitly check out the placement rates. I am stationed on FOB Kalsu south of Baghdad. I think tommorrow sometime I will go over and talk with the firefighters here to see what kind of pointers they may have. I will have a good amount of leave built up when I ETS I hope they will let me use it alll for terminal leave. If they do that would help out a lot while going to school. Again I appreciate the help. Good Luck and keep your head down!


Todd "Walt" Walton said:
That gives me some idea of what you are looking at so hopefully I can make some suggestions that would help.

The reason I asked about the Guard is because one of they guys I work with FT used to be in our unit and after getting on the FD he "crossed into the Blue" and joined the Air Guard to become a FF. They sent him to AIT and he got FF1, FF2, HAZMAT, EMT, etc. That helped when he applied to be a Fire Fighter/Operator for our combination department because he already had a lot of training. The Guard of old is gone for any service because of the current military op tempo and he has deployed twice for 4 months each. He also needles me a lot about the difference between Army and Air Force standard of living. That would be one option for you to maintain your military status and get trained. Not sure which Air Force base would be near the areas you listed but it would be worth checking out.

You can also attend a community college that offers a Fire Science or similar degree that will get you most of the basic training you'll need. This would be why I asked about the GI Bill. If you look at colleges make sure you find out what kind of placement rate they have so you can ensure our tax dollars are put to good use with your education.

With that being said, the best thing you can do is to contact the departments in the areas you and find out what it takes to get on their department and what they are looking for in prospective employee's. It would be ideal if you could visit some stations and talk to the guys to determine how they feel about the department and equipment. FF's are a lot like GI's, they'll b**** and complain but also tell you what they think about their department just like GI's talk about their unit.

Since you are also doing your time in the dirt, where are you at? I'm in Baghdad running convoy security as a medic.

If you have other questions let me know or drop me a line.

Hope this helps,
Walt.
That sounds like a plan. Have fun at Kalsu, Liberty is a lot better than life was in 03-04. Take care yourself.

Walt.
Great question brother and it's also a tough question to truly define like brotherhood. It depends on a lot of factors and after having 24 years in I think it's never really changed except for some of the terms or phrases we use to describe what we are looking for.

I have been watching the webisodes on The Battalion which Paul Conway in the Milwaukee I think episode #9 gives a good reason on why he became a firefighter. I have also taken to The Academy: OCFA in Ca. It shows a good diversity of people, ages, their mentaility and often why they became or want to become firefighters.

For me it's to be honest, loyal and have integrity to your fellow firefighters and the citizens we serve. The motto when I was a firefighter in the AF is still "the desire to serve, the courage to act and the ability to perform" Like it's been said we all love what we do and we all wish we could make a little more money but that is not the real reason we are here. It's to serve and to help in any way we can. One of the biggest examples of late is the off duty Chicago firefighter. He knew the risks and probably never even thought for one moment that he would just stand there and wait for the brothers to arrive. Those are traits that we need to have beside us now and in the future! Sometimes we have to pick through the weeds to find the best but sooner or later we find them and we must always continue providing our best while we train for the worst!

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