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  • Is it too late for me?

    I have been thinking about this for a very long time. Way back when I was 18, I used to listen to the fire and rescue calls on my scanner. Sometimes I'd hop in the car to go watch the action. My family was embarrassed, and called me an ambulance chaser, so I quit talking about it. I never thought I was a "gawker", I wanted to get in there and do something. I never realized that it was a possibility for a female, I always saw men on the scene.

    Now I'm 37 years old. Last summer I fell for a guy who turned out to be a full-time firefighter/EMT. I never told him how I felt about fire & rescue, but I love to hear him talk about work (which he does very sparingly). He hates it when people make a big deal about his job and I'm afraid to tell him that I'm interested too. I've learned quite a bit in the last year by listening to him and reading firehouse forums. Each month I take the "Interactive Monthly Quiz" to test myself. My scores get better each month even though I have never done any real "studying" (only 1 wrong in July). I have a decent IQ and pretty good common sense. I know I should be in better physical shape, but I am stronger than most women even though I never work out. (The girls tease me about "picking up men in bars" since I have carried 210lb men on occassion to prove my point. )

    They're giving the test next year in the city where my boyfriend works. Is it too late for me to consider this? I already have 20 years in the Wisconsin Retirement System with my current job so I'm set there. I feel like I need a change, but I'm sure my family will think I'm crazy.

    I envy the "family relationship" my boyfriend has with his co-workers. The one's he socializes with treat me like a sister. I've always been comfortable socializing with "the guys" since all of my female friends and co-workers are married with children and responsibilities and don't get out much. I'm divorced and don't have kids. So when I want to socialize it usually ends up being "me and the guys" out boating, jetskiing, fishing, etc. (They even got me to try trap shooting last week and I may be the new sub on the team.) I think I'd fit into the mostly-male firehouse setting pretty well.

    I was also wondering how long it took you to deal with some of the gruesome things you see. Does the adrenalin rush help get you through those situations? I was accepted to veterinary school but opted out because I didn't think I could handle doing surgery at the time. I know you get used to it eventually, but how long did it take for you? Do some people never get over it?

    Sorry this went on so long, but I have a lot to think about Thanks for listening (reading).

  • #2
    Sounds like your heart is in the right place so follow your dreams. To heck with what your family thinks, my family called me an ambulance chaser too and dispised me joining my home town vollie dept.As far as getting over seeing gross things I for one never had a problem with it seeing I used to see alot of gross things following my vollie dept. around before I joined.actually it depends on the individual on how they adjust to the gross thing in the fire service. Some adjust well and others never get used to the gross stuff. Take that firefighters exam a nd show them all up and if there's a vollie dept. that you can join try that to see if you'd really like doing that full time. I've been doing this for twenty years now and love every minute of it and the commoraderie is great too.

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    • #3
      I would go4it You might check on the retirement plan they have as some have a cut off of 36 for full-time now volunteer is completly diff. so check it out first.
      FF/PARAMEDIC/CORONER/TRAINING "MY DAY STARTS WHEN YOURS ENDS"
      **SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE**

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      • #4
        YOU GO GIRL!!as may wife would say. It sounds like you have nothing to lose, being vested & all. Just try your best and you will not have any regrets. I waited till 32 to finally get serious about this as a career and my only regret is that I waited so long.

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        • #5


          In the imortal words of Nike "Just do it" I am 31 and I have only a year on the department. You know I come to work with a smile on my face everyday. I love my job and I couldn't imagine doing anything else. If this is what you want to do...go for it. You don't want to think 10 years down the road...I should have or could have.
          Heck...take the test! Have two plans for yourself...one for when you pass and another just incase you don't.

          Forget what your family thinks. You are doing this for you, they are not going to go through all the work to get you there. You are!!!! If that is what you want to do...then go for it.

          As for the gruesome stuff...that is what your family at the firehouse is for. Through laughter and just being able to talk about it...helps you cope. I don't think you ever get use to it. You do what you are trained to do and get the job done.

          You are never to old to start over...good luck to you! Just look at me!

          Cheers,

          Stay safe & stay low

          F/F Tanner

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          • #6
            GO FOR IT!!! I am a 29 year old ff/emt. I was around the departments for years before I decided to go for it and go to the fire academy. I did extremely well in school and was often praised by the instructors for how hard I worked. My family was way more supportive then I thought they would be, and even the guys on the department that I thought would have a problem with me joining didn't. They are all glad to have me, and I do just fine. I might not be as strong of some of the guys, but there are things I can do to make up for that....confined space, etc. If this is truly what you want, then don't let anyone tell you it can't be done. Just understand that it is very hard sometimes to get people outside of the fire world to understand why we do this...I get lots of questions about being a woman fire fighter. I simply smile and tell them I love what I do, I do it well, and in the end I help make a difference and that is what counts most. GOOD LUCK to you...you will do fine if you decide to pursue this dream....heck what have you got to lose? GO FOR IT!
            Never forget those who went before and sacrified to make us better and stronger as a fire service and a nation. 09-11-01 forever etched in time and our memories. God Speed Boys!

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            • #7
              GO FOR IT.
              "My friends, watch out for the little fellow with an idea." - Tommy Douglas 1961.

              Tender 9 - old, slow, ugly, cantankerous, reliable!

              All empires fall, you just have to know where to push

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              • #8
                Heck! my mom joined the FD when she was 44! Just don't tell her I said that.
                Althea Forhan
                FDNY 343:"Forever your power and strength stays with me"

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                • #9
                  By God woman do it....follow your dreams....As long as you are happy with yourself and life, thats all that matters. Besides your family will get over it if they dont respect you for following out your dreams DO IT
                  stay safe
                  Its not something you do,
                  Its something you are.
                  "Whether we bring the terrorists to justice, or we bring justice to the terroists...Justice WILL BE DONE"... President Bush
                  Engineer
                  Engine Co. # 1
                  THESE ARE JUST MY OPINIONS AND OPINIONS ONLY!!!

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                  • #10
                    I would totaly recommend it. My parents think I am nuts for doing wildland fires. I have done both wildland and structural fire. I love them both. Best of luck.
                    Jim

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                    • #11
                      GO FOR IT!

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                      • #12
                        Thanks for the encouraging words. You're helping me to overcome my doubts. I'm usually the type to say "If you can do it, so can I", but for some reason this is one area where I'm scared. I guess there are a lot of unknowns out there for me. I've heard that the fire academy is harder than basic training and I know I'm not in shape for that. Maybe if I just started by getting in shape I wouldn't have so many doubts. I am a fast learner, so I know that I can do the book work. I'll have to check out the local vo-tech to see what courses they have to offer. What should I be looking for?

                        I have started "chasing sirens" again. I went to a rollover yesterday and watched them cut the guy out of his van (med-flighted, critical today). It was hard to see much from a distance though. Went to a fire call downtown, but they just ended up ventilating smoke.

                        Do they ever let "civilians" ride along at your department? I would like to be up close so I can really see what's going on. I think I'm most interested in rescue work, so I think I would have to be a firefighter, not a paramedic.

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                        • #13
                          I know we are in the process of starting up a ride along program....its been hard to start up though because of the liability....good luck to you and i hope you find a good city to ride with...i know chicago does ...or they used to
                          stay safe
                          Its not something you do,
                          Its something you are.
                          "Whether we bring the terrorists to justice, or we bring justice to the terroists...Justice WILL BE DONE"... President Bush
                          Engineer
                          Engine Co. # 1
                          THESE ARE JUST MY OPINIONS AND OPINIONS ONLY!!!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            You will never know if you dont try.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              To paraphrase ol Winnie:

                              "Never, never, never give up!"
                              Oklahoma Bound!

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