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  • As parents, need advice

    My 17 year old son is a Sr. in high school and would like to pursue a career in firefighting. In reading through the threads on the website (which I just discovered today), I am amazed at the comraderie and respect you all have for one another - it is because of people like you that I am proud that my son would like to join your ranks.

    Here is our dilemma: He has a very real opportunity to get a scholarship to play college football. He's being courted by Div I schools, but he is open to all other options. He loves the game of football and would like to continue to play in college if that is the right thing to do. We need some help giving him some direction on the best path for him to pursue at this point in his life, knowing he wants to be a firefighter.

    Here are our choices:
    1) Take the football scholarship (if offered one) at the DI or DII school and get a 4 year degree. If this is the way to go, what degree should he pursue that would help him "move up" in his firefighting career down the road?
    2) Play ball at a Jr. College that offers an Associates degree in Fire Science.
    3) Don't play ball and go directly to the TEEX academy in College Station, TX after high school graduation.

    If option #1 or #2 are recommeded, would he still have to go through an academy once he graduated? Would it be better to just go to the academy first and then pursue a degree via one of the online options available for firefighters?

    As you can see, we are truly "stuck" and don't know what kind of direction to give our son. We want him/us to be smart about this and not just jump into a decision simply because football is in the equation. If football were not in the equation, what would be the best route to take?

    Bless you for all you do!

  • #2
    This might not be a popular opinion (depends on who is reading the forums tonight) but if he is given the opportunity to play DI football, and enjoy college, AND get a free education, then by all means, this would be a wise decision. He will be at a great age to pursue a FF job once out of college, more mature then he is now, and would have more opportunities available to him.
    Proud East Coast Traditionalist.

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    • #3
      Applicants for FF jobs, especially in large jurisdictions, tend to have an average age around 28, so there's no hurry.

      More and more FFs are taking the job with a 2 or 4 year degree, any of them will do fine. Later in the career, a business or public administration degree may help, but for undergraduate studies, anything will do. He should pick something he'd like and will do well at.

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      • #4
        As a recruit school instructor that gets too see every new hire, I would also encourage your son to get the education now. Putting it off makes it harder and harder to go back to school when he's looking for promotional opportunity, and the fun of college shouldn't be missed!
        Career Fire Captain
        Volunteer Chief Officer


        Never taking for granted that I'm privileged enough to have the greatest job in the world!

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        • #5
          I have had much of the same dilemma, except no school wanted me to play football for them nor did i want to play football. I am a certfied level 2 firefighter in the state of North Carolina attending a school that offers a degree in Emergency management. now this has been hard for me as i see friends from my volunteer department get hired on with local paid fire departments. but advice i have gotten from other firefighters such as the instructors at Fire rescue resources tell me that this is the best route to take. with my training and my degree i will be more set for the field of firefighting and hopefully someday a promotion. by the end of my schooling i hope to be at least a state certified emt and a rescue technician.
          FFMom if you want any more advice from a boy who had the same dilemma feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]
          Originally Posted by the1141man
          IACOJ is what Firehouse should have been to begin with, and what it now couldn't even aspire to in its wildest dreams.- the1141man

          the opinions typed in the above space are mine and mine alone

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          • #6
            Id jump at the chance to go to school for free or reduced rate any day. I don't know what field for your son to look into, possibly an engineering field? Math is a basis for many things in life.

            Comment


            • #7
              Im currently working on a 4 year degree in Business, but my ultimate goal is to be a career firefigher. Why am a getting an education that is completely unrelated to the fireservice? To tell you the truth, most department could care less what your degree is in, as long as you have one. Plus, say I get hurt, I have something to fall back on if I can no longer work in the fire service.

              I am however working as a volunteer firefighter, this is helping me get certifications like EMT-B, Fire 1/2, hazmat, ect for free while I go to college. After college im planing on getting my medic, but volunteering alows me to get a foundation as a Basic before mooving on to ALS, as well as getting a degree in my spare time.

              Is this the quickest way to get a full time fire job? Probably not, but long term it is whats best. Degrees not only help you get hired, and they really help you get promoted once you get the job. To be perfectly honest that medic card is the big ticket to getting hired, but I woulnt worry about that just yet, your son has a great oppertunity ahead of him, and he will always regret it if he doesnt take advantage of it.

              Some of the most valuable personality traites that have helped me as a firefigher are those I learned playing football in HS. If your son puts on his resume that he has a 4 year degree and played D1 football, even without any fire experience, that would say alot to me as a fire chief. He has the rest of his life to get fire and EMS certs.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by smokeater1310
                I have had much of the same dilemma, except no school wanted me to play football for them nor did i want to play football. I am a certfied level 2 firefighter in the state of North Carolina attending a school that offers a degree in Emergency management. now this has been hard for me as i see friends from my volunteer department get hired on with local paid fire departments. but advice i have gotten from other firefighters such as the instructors at Fire rescue resources tell me that this is the best route to take. with my training and my degree i will be more set for the field of firefighting and hopefully someday a promotion. by the end of my schooling i hope to be at least a state certified emt and a rescue technician.
                FFMom if you want any more advice from a boy who had the same dilemma feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]
                Same situation as you smokeater except my degree is for fire protection and I am working toward finishing my FF 2 cert as well. As a high school player I think it would have been a great experience to go onto college to play football I would tell him to go for it as everyone else has said.

                I will also offer up any assistance if I can.

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                • #9
                  Speaking from experience, I'm still "college age", I would most certainly take option #1. Gets to play ball (which he enjoys), gets a FREE 4yr education (very helpful with promoting once he's on a Department), gets to enjoy his college life, and then gets to pursue his career as a Firefighter! Sheesh!! What more could I ask for!!

                  As for the degree, most all Fire Departments around here don't really care what your degree is. With that said, there are certainly some that will be of more use than others. Those include: Communications (pretty easy, that's where I started!), any Business Management/Public Admin. degree, Chemistry, Engineering, etc. Around here, NC, they really only care that you HAVE a 4yr degree more than they are concerned what it's about. Personally, (besides getting a Fire-related degree) I believe that either something in Communications OR Business Management/Public Admin would prove to be the most beneficial when you start to promote to the ranks of Captain and above. One thing to keep in mind, the 4yr Degree won't make a big difference when initially trying to get a job. It will certainly be a plus, but it will really become beneficial when you son starts applying for promotions within his Department.

                  Depending on the department's where he applies, YES, he will still have to attend an academy. For example, Charlotte, NC FD (just like most Larger departments) requires EVERY new employee to attend "recruit" school/academy, regardless of the fact that they might already have 10yrs "on the job" at another department. This Academy is a time that the Department uses to teach all new recruits "their ways" of doing things. They also get all the necessary certifications. It would be compared to the military's "boot camp" where the guys are taught the military's way of doing things. NOW, if he wants to work for a smaller department, they might not have an academy. Instead, they might only hire people who already have the basic certifications which is what he would get at the TEEX Recruit Fire Academy. If he decides to go through the TEEX Academy after he gets his 4yr degree, and then gets hired by a department that requires their own academy, then he'll have to go through the department's academy. At least, that's how it works up here in NC!

                  I am currently taking online classes for my Fire degree. I'll say this, it's not for everyone! Some like it, others can't seem to keep up with their work because there is more "freedom" than traditional classes. I would still recommend doing ALL of your schooling first.

                  If football weren't in the equation, I'd still take option #1. He'd still get to enjoy his college years AND get his 4yr degree. As mentioned above, although most places allow you to apply at age 18, I've found that *most* new recruits are typically between the ages 22-28. I'm sure this is not the case everywhere, but it's what I've seen around here. More and more new recruits are joining Departments AFTER they get their college degrees, so I'm sure that age range will remain the same.

                  OPTION #1 all the way!!!!!

                  Once you are able to send members Private Messages (PMs) or E-mails, feel free to send me a message, I'd be glad to be of any assistance that I can. (and no, I'm not a certified professional life coach!)
                  Do it because you love it, not because you love being seen doing it.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Same opinion as others here. Go play ball.

                    Three thoughts on the matter.

                    First, you mentioned the comraderie and respect you see here. He's playing Texas football? Talk about comraderie and respect. Not to mention tradition, which is paramount to the fire service. I played Div. 1 baseball and my experiences continue to help me in this profession.

                    Also, I wanted to add another thing about the degree. Yes, it is harder to go back later. The other thing is it will help him later with promotability in most departments.

                    Lastly, Div. 1 football and an education is a huge commitment. With that being said, outside of the season there are still plenty of opportunities to get involved with the fire service before he graduates. Most departments are very open and accessible to visitors. Most cities have volunteer or paid call programs with relatively low commitments, which could help him get his foot in the door. Keeping himself involved as much as reasonablly possible and picking up what he can could help him down the road.

                    Good luck to you and him.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I agree. Go to school (especially if it's free). You don't want to be trying to take night courses or online courses with shift work to contend with. If he likes math, engineering might not be a bad choice. He might look into Fire Protection Engineering (only offered at a couple of schools right now - but becoming more popular). Just some thoughts.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Without a doubt, GO TO SCHOOL FIRST!!

                        As was mentioned, most large departments are looking to hire folks in their mid to late 20s (more life experience, more maturity). School will help him gain confidence during his interviews and in the training academy.

                        As an added bonus, some FDs give monetary benefits for higher levels of education. I get an additional 7% for having a 4-year degree where I work.

                        College is a great place to get out and grow up...and the fire service isn't going anywhere. If he's really interested, I'm sure he can find a local volunteer FD near school to get involved with...this might also help him get some of the entry-level fire certifications handled while in school, thus making him more marketable when he graduates. Most colleges have an EMT-B program, which he'll most likely need to have prior to getting hired as well.

                        Any degree is great to have; he just needs to find something that interests him so he'll stick with it. He might even find that the school he ends up at has a Fire Science program...which, in addition to his degree, can do nothing but help his chances at getting hired.

                        I'm also with a local volunteer dept. (on my off days) and we actively pursue students from the local University with interests in fire because they are motivated and want to learn, so they help keep our older guys motivated, and they get the basic education to help them go into a career after they graduate...what a great deal!!!

                        Go have fun, grow up a little, and then go to work!

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                        • #13
                          No doubt....Option #1. Fires will ALWAYS be there....Football wont
                          Buck
                          Assistant Chief/EMT-B

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                          • #14
                            Education vs. Career

                            I'm sure this advice has been give. But as a older new firefighter (Volunteer) I'd have to recommend that he get the education first. A education has so much value that can be used for the rest of his life. If he has the oportunity now then it would be benificial for him to do so. If he persues the firefighter career now he may lose the oportunity for a education. Plus later on it may be harder for him to find the time for college.

                            He can also combine the two. He may find a class in college that is in the fire science area (Firefighting). He can get the scholarship and go to college, play football and be prepared for a career as a firefighter. Who knows, he may even get the education and training to be more then "just a firefighter". This could lead him towards a career in fire investigation (Arson) and even get him ready to assume a more commanding role such as a cheif or more.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Play now and fight later

                              Tennessee Titans tight end Erron Kinney is a firefighter and a NFL player. If your son has the talent to play please encourage him. Firefighting can wait a few years.

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