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  • What Should I Do

    Hi, I have seriously considered about becoming a volunteer firefighter where i live and i also have been looking into firefighting careers for a while now. I am currently in my second year of a 4-yr college where as of now my major is occupational health and safety but in all honesty I still really dont know what I want to do with my life. But I would like to do something in the protection/medical field. I live by madison, wi but i go to college (and live down there during the school year) which is 45 minutes away which leads me to my question. I would like to join a vol fire dept but im not sure of what to do because of my situation. Should I try to be a firefighter in the town I live(by madison) but the problem with that is I'm only there in the summer and on most weekends during school or should i try to be a firefighter in the town where i go to school since im there most of the year anyway or would it be just a better idea to go to tech school in madison next year for fire protection and be a firefighter there which would make the most sense but it will seem like im taking a step back from a 4-year college to tech school but I dont know. I have considered all these options but I was just wondering what people's advice/opinions were cuz I could use some help.
    I would appriciate any info that anyone has and im sorry that this post is so long. Thanks

  • #2
    The days of being a vol. for the sake of protecting your city are mostly over. Most the guys that are Vol or POP/POC are that because they love the job. I am a firefighter/paramedic from Northern Illinois Fulltime as well as POP at a part time department 30 minutes from my house. My advice to you is to look into both departments and see which one fits you best. Some departments require you only to respond to callback/general alarms for manpower, others require you to work a certain amount of shifts per month, yet others require you to work nights on a 1 on two off rotation. if that is not an issue as far as the time goes, look to see where you would get more expirence through both calls and training. talk to the guys about how much they train, do they do hands on, classroom, or a mixture of both? Basically, neither one is better than the other from the surface, see which one works with your schedual. You are there to get expirence to first off see if this is what you want to do, second of all, if it is what you want to do, get as much expirence you can.

    hope this helps.

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    • #3
      Madison just started taking applications if you want to apply. It's going to be tough to get hired though. Probably the most applicants for a WI dept. besides Milwaukee.

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      • #4
        My advice would be to ask yourself what you want the most. Do you want to work in occupational safety and health? Would you feel rewarded in that job?
        Ask the same questions about firefighting.
        Then you can decide which road is the one for you!

        Good luck!

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        • #5
          I am in a similar situation in Montana and I have just joined a Volunteer FD here and couldn't be happier. My advice is keep working on school in whatever field you want to and finish in the degree because it will help you later on no matter what you do. I would agree with finding a department that is a good fit and if you are considering a career ask about their training and advancement. I am benefiting from my department having a ton of options for advancement and training. I would also look into the time commitment for volunteers and what costs are covered for you. I think you will figure it out on your own but asking the right questions is the key to making it work.

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          • #6
            Keep your education first and foremost right now. If you feel that you want to try a volunteer dept. you can certainly apply. It can be a very large commitment depending on the departments training/education and call volume requirements. Training can take up a great deal of your free time. Many people don't realize how much of their time it will take. So you might want to give that issue some thought.
            I'll give you an example from my dept. requirements. First, minimum requirement is to be a First Responder. This will require you taking a class that can run as long as two months depending on how it is taught. They also prefer you obtain your FF1 certification and that can be another two months of attending classes. We are required to attend two training meetings per month. We must run a minimum of 96 calls within a 6 month period so that is 15 calls per month minimum. This doesn't sound like much but it can be challenging if you work full time, go to school full time, etc. You basically end up planning the rest of your activities around your fire dept. requirements. We are expected to give at least 2 years of service in return for the training we receive. Not all departments have this type of requirements but it is an example.

            Belonging to a volunteer dept. can be a great way to build your way up to a paid department. I would suggest that you contact the volunteer dept. you think you would like to belong to and find out their requirements and see if you can work it into your schedule. I know several fellows that have gone directly to FF school and have never had any luck getting hired to a paid department. The positions can be difficult to get. The paid departments around here often look to the area volunteer departments when they are hiring. That is how I got my ARFF position at the airport.
            Hope this is some food for thought.
            S.Davis
            EMT-B/FF1/ARFF

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            • #7
              Therocket17, if you don't mind my asking where about do you live exactly??? I am also from a suburb of Madison...Just wondering.

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              • #8
                Hi rocket...I lived in Madison for awhile so I hope some of this will help. First of all I take it you are going to UW Madison correct?

                So your question of where to volunteer?.....why not do both? your hometown and down in Madison. I could not believe the amount of volunteer depts around Madison...so you have a lot of options.

                I was on Shorewood Hills while going to MATC. We had quite a few college students on the department just for the school year and volunteered for their hometown during summer. The other nice thing about the Hills is there are many members that belong to other volunteer depts as well. We have members with Fitchburg, Verona, Middleton, Madison and so on. Also the village is close to campus so that can help to make it to calls.

                Also if you are interested in EMS...they run a basic service, but will pay for your schooling. You would just have to volunteer some time at the station. The station is laid out nice, there is an intern program there, as well as addition bedrooms for volunteers if they want to spend a night, be it fire, EMS, or both. Also nice place to study too.

                It may sound like a bias approach here, but I was an intern there and they are very helpful to work with you. If you already have your FF entry level 1 and 2 your gold. They will also pick up part of your fire recruit academy if you want to go FF 1 and 2.

                As for other depts there, you can look into Town of Madison, Fitchburg, Middleton, Maple Bluff and so on...depending where you live in the city. I am not too sure about their requirements, but something to look into. Fitchburg and Town get quite a few fires. Maple Bluff and Shorewood don't, but they do a lot of mutual aid calls.

                Hope this helps...
                The thoughts and opinions posted here are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the thoughts and or views of city or dept affiliation.

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                • #9
                  oops I forgot...just reread your post....Stay with the 4 year program, getting a bachelors is quite an accomplishment. You can go to MATC fire academy in summer if you want....again Shorewood will pick up a good portion of that tab. But don't drop out of the UW to go to the tech...too many people would love to get into that school....get your degree....if you want to still go to the fire service you have time. Also many depts will look at a BS degree just like an AS in Fire Protection.
                  The thoughts and opinions posted here are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the thoughts and or views of city or dept affiliation.

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                  • #10
                    Finish your bachelors degree. This is your NUMBER ONE priority. If you can, squeeze in an EMT course.

                    Once you have finished school decide where you want to spend the rest of your live. Check out the opportunities for employment as a firefighter. Once this is doen check out the minimum requirements.

                    You want to identify the area first as there are places that do not recognize other state's courses. You'll end up having to repeat them.

                    Good luck,

                    Paul Lepore
                    Battalion Chief
                    www.aspiringfirefighters.com
                    Paul Lepore
                    Battalion Chief
                    www.aspiringfirefighters.com

                    Comment

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