Becoming A Firefighter or Officer-----The Complete Guide to Your Badge! Fire "Captain Bob"
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"Getting the

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like winning

the lottery!"

 

 

 

 

 

"Nothing

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Nothing!"

 

Anything

less and

you're

still the

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Rob’s corner:  Wisdom and insight

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Coyright 1998 -2009

How to Become a Firefigher

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FREE 101 Inside Secrets How to Get A Badge

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There is a wealth of information in past issues of our newsletter here

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FREE 10 day test drive of inside secrets.  Learn more here

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Five Nuggets for successful Oral boards

30 sample oral board questions

Bonus Nugget

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New badges from our program

Check out how candidates have improved their position in gaining a badge. What changed?

Who’s Captain Bob?

Rob’s corner:  Wisdom and insight

Seminar dates

Links to other firefighter web sites

Coyright 1998 - 2010

 

 

"Getting the

job of your

dreams is

like winning

the lottery!"

 

 

 

 

 

"Nothing

counts 'til

you have

the badge

Nothing!"

 

Anything

less and

you're

still the

bridesmaid.

 

 

 

 

 

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Got A Question? Call or e-mail us here

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Going to college or getting the badge

 

First leave no doubt that I believe in education. If you want to get a Public Administration, Engineering or any other degree as a career track, great. Don’t think it will be the key to get into the fire service to ride big red.

But where are you going to get the most bang for your buck? We have enough chiefs. We need more Indians.

What’s the time line? If you’re just starting college and want to get your BA, it could take you 4 maybe 5 or more years depending on when you can line up and complete all your classes and requirements. Then, if you wanted to go further the timing it to get into and academy and or paramedic school and get some street time another 2+ years? So around 7 years give or take to get in position to go after the badge. Are you going to need student loans? Do you have a special person in your life who is going to wait while you pursue your career? How long can you tread water?
 
Everyone has an opinion, there are exceptions and more than one road to a badge and there are no guarantees in life which ever path you take. This might help:

Ask yourself who is getting the badges? The vast majority of candidates we see get hired do not have advanced degrees. They're more in the line of EMT, FF1 academy, working on or have an AA or AS degree or medics. Some have no fire education or experience. Their biggest asset was they leaned how to take an interview.

The following is from:

Michael J. Ward, MGA, MIFireE
Assistant Professor
http://www.gwumc.edu/ems/ward.html
Fire Science Program Head
Northern Virginia Community College
Annandale, VA

In my preferred world, a high school graduate will attend college and obtain an undergraduate bachelor’s degree PRIOR to getting a “real” job. This illustrates the values of going to college and getting to experiment and become an adult in a semi-protective environment.

Lets cut through the testosterone and turf wars and consider the question of which is the best way to get a badge.  First, I will agree when considering a major in college, fire science provides a poor return on investment if the goal is a career as a paid firefighter.

There may be another reason why an 18 year old wants to go to work right away. Many graduates of American high schools lack the reading, mathematic or study skills to start freshman college.

Firefighting is one of the few middle-class jobs not requiring college education as a pre-employment requirement. I think that distinction will evaporate in the next generation.  As Captain Bob repeatedly points out, most fire departments do not provide preferential considerations for someone with a two-or-four year degree. If you are going to college to prepare for a career in fire-rescue, your best investment is to obtain paramedic certification.

THE BRUTALITY OF THE HIRING PROCESS

Fire departments continue to hire as if it was 1899 – you are a slab of meat evaluated for your physical, mental and moral capabilities. The regional or local fire academy will provide the needed on-the-job training. Most of them do not care about your volunteer experience or existing fire service certifications. But many will treat you preferentially if you are a National Registry EMT/Paramedic.

You may have forgotten what it is like to be on the outside with a burning desire to be a full-time firefighter. That desire results in an endless “what-if” game that reminds me of high school dating.

Captain Bob’s approach to focus on only doing things to get the BADGE is like the suggestions I provide to younger wanna-be’s.

MY OPINION:
If you can, go to college and get a bachelor degree. Have fun, try out new things, see the world. Get your degree in whatever interests you, since 80% of your fellow graduates end up in jobs different than what their degree says.

After you get your badge and get off probation, you can take whatever fire science, emergency management, WMD, ICS, or XYZ classes required by your department. Generally, they will pay for those classes.

My teaching experience goes from high school vocational EMT (three years) to community college (20 years) through university (four years). My personal educational journey includes flunking out of engineering school, while living in a fire station and spending my parent’s money. I returned to obtain a bachelor and master degree years later.

 There is a huge amount of diversity in "fire science" academic programs. From community college credit for Firefighter I to graduate engineering and hard science research university PhDs.

 
TWO YEAR COMMUNITY COLLEGE FIRE SCIENCE PROGRAMS

Terminal Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees are designed for a student to complete in PREPARATION for a career in a craft or trade (hospitality, allied medical technicians, mechanic, computer technician, business office skills, realtor, etc.) In general, completing an AAS in Fire Science DOES NOT increase your chances of getting hired.

Most fire departments are still using 19th century municipal hiring practice. You are hired based on your potential (physical, mental and moral) and the recruit school will provide the needed job skills training.

I run a fire science program with about 200 students. The majority of my students are already on-the-job and are taking classes to prepare for promotion to technician, Lieutenant or Captain.

Go to http://www.nvcc.edu/home/mward/ to see my fire science world. Spent 18 of my 25 years as a career firefighter teaching college fire science classes as part-time faculty, a total of 187 semester hours.

FOUR YEAR FIRE SCIENCE DEGREE PROGRAMS

There are three flavors of a four year "fire science" degree.

The most academic challenging is the Fire Protection Engineering degree. These degrees are similar to civil, mechanical or electrical engineering programs with two years of higher level math, one to two years of hard science and about twenty engineering courses.
 
Many four year fire science degrees fall into the technology arena - not as academically robust as an engineering degree. Oklahoma State, Eastern Kentucky, John Jay (NYC), Arizona State Univ East are some examples.

The third flavor is a four year non-science degree that will lead to a Bachelors in management, supervision. leadership, emergency services, you name it. For example, the completely on-line Fire Science Management (National Fire Academy Degree-at-a-Distance: offered at seven colleges/universities) is an example. Usually requires a year of English, a year of college level math, a year of science/lab and whatever other general education requirements are needed by that educational institution.

Hope this helps.

Michael J. Ward, MGA, MIFireE
Assistant Professor
http://www.gwumc.edu/ems/ward.html

Fire Science Program Head
Northern Virginia Community College
Annandale, VA

"Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

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