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Suggestions for mom of a volunteer who wants to become a career?

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  • Suggestions for mom of a volunteer who wants to become a career?

    Hi everyone-thank you in advance for any suggestions you can give me. I have a 21 year old son who just got national certification as an EMT and is also a trained volunteer firefighter after taking a few courses at college. He wants to apply to the fire academy as well and become a career, but so far he's running into problems with just getting shifts to keep up his training. As a mom who has never had any experience with firefighting or other emergency services OR the military or anything else with a hierarchical structure, I'm not sure what is the best way for him to get this experience. In the working world, we could ask for a meeting with a supervisor and explain that we really enjoy the job and are looking for additional tasks or challenges or whatever. But the way signing up for shifts goes (from what he tells me) it's a lot more complicated. Like there have to be a certain number of volunteers signed up in order to even field a team for a shift or something. So when I suggest to him that he talk with one of the more senior people at the station, he tells me it doesn't work that way, they can't magically make more shifts available, etc. Of course part of it is just this generation's reluctance to actually talk to people face to face, which I get. But that's an important skill to have anyway, right?

    I just want the kid to (a) be able to do meaningful work, (b) keep up the skills he learned and is enjoying doing and (c) become comfortable with the structure of the emergency services setting as a job. He's telling me he literally cannot find shifts to sign up for at the station he belongs to, and I'm thinking that there must be some way for him to get experience somehow (other than going to another station, which he tells me you can only do if you're currently in a class) or learn from a discussion with someone what the options are.

    I welcome any suggestions you might have!


    ~Trying not to be a helicopter parent

  • #2
    So has he tested for any career departments??

    Is he only foucused on a couple departments??

    His concentration should be getting into the best physical state he can,

    Plus, also mental/ interview shape.

    What state are you in?????

    Great site for more info:::


    • #3
      Originally posted by fire5555 View Post
      So has he tested for any career departments??

      Is he only foucused on a couple departments??

      His concentration should be getting into the best physical state he can,

      Plus, also mental/ interview shape.

      What state are you in?????

      Great site for more info:::
      Thanks, these questions and the website are very helpful!

      He applied for the career academy - well I should say tried to apply; apparently the website is set up so that the first time you click "submit" on your application, the process is not complete and you need to return to another page and actually submit it for the specific job. But he plans to apply for the academy the next time they have an opening, probably in the fall.

      Right now he's definitely focusing on physical shape--he's been bodybuilding for a few years and is now working with a trainer on cardio. My understanding is (and again, this is part of the problem-I don't understand!) that he has joined one company as a volunteer and it's frowned upon/not allowed to ride with any other companies. We are in Maryland, and he tells me that if he were still in his college class he could ride with a Baltimore company and get a lot of experience. But he also tells me this isn't permitted, which sounds weird.

      The thing about getting into mental/interview shape seems like a great idea. He could definitely stand to work on that. I like the idea on the website you linked about working on your presentation - sounding enthusiastic and telling a story, for example. I'll definitely recommend that to him.

      One more question--even if he can't ride, it seems to me he could be volunteering to learn the ropes of the station/equipment and getting to know the station members. I read that it's part of becoming a firefighter/EMT to learn all of the different roles and tasks, like inventory, maintenance, etc. Is it a pain to have novice volunteers hanging out counting and cleaning, or is that actually useful?

      Thanks again!


      • #4
        Yes it is best to learn the basics and learn them well

        Including how to run a mop.

        My normal advice is to test everywhere and anywhere. Might throw DC in there???
        I no nothing about Maryland, even though I have been to Emmitsburg a few times. So not sure the requirements. I do know back east some cities have residency requirements, so check into that.

        Not sure where you are at, but highly suggest looking at testing in the states around you.

        Check different dept web sites, and see what the requirements are just to apply, if he needs something else get it. Some let you put job interest cards in, so they alert you when they start taking applications.

        He can get hired somewhere, but a few years in, if he does not like it, start testing again.

        Never been a volunteer but I think it is correct they like you to stick to one dept.

        As far as volunteering, sometimes it looks good, I have read of people getting bad mouthed even though they do good, on background checks,,
        Plus normally the dept he gets hired on has some sort of academy on how they want things done, and sometimes it is hard to break habits learned.

        You all might just visit a few city depts set down ask questions and get some insight


        • #5
          He needs to apply at multiple career departments. Anywhere within a couple of hours of his residence. If not further. Many career departments will put him through their own academy and certify him there. Aside from EMT it may not be necessary to get certifications. Or even experience. The bigger departments don't seem to care what you've done before.
          If he wants more experience can he leave the current volunteer department and volunteer somewhere with more opportunities?


          • #6
            Originally posted by MichelleCC View Post
            ~Trying not to be a helicopter parent
            Uhhhhhhhhhhh, oh.....never mind.

            If he is only 21, he has a way to go before he will get hired. The competition for career spots in and around Maryland is fierce- as in Gladiators battling to the death fierce. I highly suggest that Junior consider enlisting in any branch of the Military and doing four years. Learn a trade, any trade except firefighting. Learn welding, pipe fitting, machining, diesel engine repair or any of a number of other trades. This will ensure he has a job to fall back on when he exits the Military and has something to do while he tests and waits for a career spot. When he gets out, start taking every civil service exam that comes down the pike- fire, cop, sanitation, dog's all good civil service testing experience. And having an honorable discharge will net him 10 extra points on most civil service exams.

            Some other points:
            -Most big city career depts on the east coast dont give two flying rats posteriors about certs, college credits or prior experience, you are not a firefighter until you go through and pass their fire academy and then your one year's worth of post-academy probation.

            -Yes volunteer experience can be helpful. If he really and truly wants to get some under his belt, go join a shop in Prince George's County. Many have live-in programs and depending on the house you can and will see a ton of work. However see above, it doesnt count when you get to Big City Fire Dept Training Academy.

            "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."


            • #7
              if he wants to move where it is warmer and cheaper to live:::



              • #8
                If he wants to get a job, he needs to take the tests. sign up to test for every county department in maryland, DC, and northern virginia. most don't care about your experience, as you will still need to go through their academy.

                Volunteering is great, however most don't care about experience; it all depends on how you do on all the tests. and get your paramedic, it will increase the changes of getting hired. but if you aren't the most active volunteer, most departments won't care.

                There is a lot of competition, so don't be surprised if you get turned down, so keep trying.

                Biggest thing is he needs to do the work. you can't help do it for him, he needs to to the research and do the work himself. this includes asking for assistance on how to handle situations, and how best to move into a career position.
                If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!



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