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Fire Training and certification / military ???

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  • Fire Training and certification / military ???

    I am currently 6 months away from graduating with a BA degree at the University of Iowa, and concidering joining the military, most likely Navy or Air Force. After the military I am interested in persuing a career as a firefighter. Would either branch have better training or certifications? Do any fire departments recognize military certs and training?

    thank you

  • #2
    The military uses a DoD wide certification system that also has reciprocity with the IFSAC (International Fire Service Accreditation Congress) and Proboard (National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications) certification systems. If you want to work in a state that recognizes these certs then they will count, if you don't then you will still need to get the appropriate certs for that state. If you get stationed in the state you want to work in then you can often get certified by the DoD and the state. The DoD certs are recognized by Federal civilian DoD fire departments if you are interested in that.

    As a military firefighter the US Marine Corps and Air Force are probably your best choices. At most Marine Corps bases the military firefighters perform aircraft crash rescue while the civilian firefighters provide the other fire and rescue duties. Most Air Force bases mix the military and civilian firefighters (for example an engine co. could have 2 civilian and 2 military firefighters assigned). Few Army bases use the military firefighters and I don't think the Navy has any military firefighters (except damage control shipboard firefighters). I believe all military firefighters get the same training from Goodfellow AFB in Texas. All of the above relates to bases in the US, not sure how it is done at overseas bases. The Air Force has the best reputation for training and both the Air Force and Marine Corps civilian fire departments seem to take care of the military guys when they leave active duty (they hire alot of the military firefighters when they get out).

    You might try asking this again in the Federal firefighter forum as I think there are some military FF and ex military FF that frequent there.


    • #3
      Go USMC
      That is all, carry on.
      Be for Peace, but don't be for the Enemy!
      -Big Russ

      Learn from the mistakes of others; you won't live long enough to make them all yourself.

      Originally posted by nyckftbl
      LOL....dont you people have anything else to do besides b*tch about our b*tching?


      • #4
        military experience

        While I cannot speak on personal experience, I had a good friend who spend four years in the Air Force as a firefighter. There he not only completed his firefighter studies, but also got his Paramedic License and his BS degree.

        When he opted to exit the military life, the civilian world was Drooling over the certs that he had. he eventually took a position with the airport crash rescue team in Boston...making 90,000+ dollars a year.

        I know that many organizations look very favorably upon the certs that the air force hand out down there in Texas.

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        STL Res2cue
        Firefighter / Medic
        St. Louis Fire Department
        "Justifiably Proud Since 1857"

        ~ R.I.P. ~
        Derrek Martin
        Robert Morrison
        Members of STL Rescue Squad 1
        Killed Operating on Box 3409, May 3rd 2002


        • #5
          NonSurfinCaFF is on the money with his info. As a Marine ARFF guy, here's my advice-look to the Air Force. They run the DoD certification program, and it's much simpler for AF personnel to take the courses for additional certification. They also have WAY more funding for outside instructors to come in and give classes. You can also consider the ANG and AF Reserve-you may deploy occasionally, but it's a way to get trained and not spend 4 years on active duty.

          The IFSAC/ProBoard reciprocity thing is hugely important. I live and work in Michigan, which has no reciprocity with IFSAC. My Michigan certs mean nothing to the Corps, and my military certs mean nothing my FD. I have young Reserve Marines who finished top of their military academy at Goodfellow, then came back home and had to go to a Michigan certified academy and take it all over again to get a civilian fire job. Meanwhile, a kid from Ohio walked right into a job in his state.

          BTW, that BA won't help you on the military fire side, firefighting is for enlisted folks in the USAF and USMC. The exception is the Marine Airfield Emergency Services officer, but they are warrant officers who must have been at least a Sgt w/8 yrs service to get that rank.


          • #6
            Originally posted by gunnyv
            You can also consider the ANG and AF Reserve-you may deploy occasionally, but it's a way to get trained and not spend 4 years on active duty.
            Gunnyv has a valid point here, but if you are gonna go military you might as well go active duty. Those 5 veterans points may make all the difference in the civilian world after, and trust me, if you are a AF Reserve or ANG firefighter you WILL get activated and deployed...count on it. Either way, military service is a great option. Good luck whatever you decide on.


            • #7
              I was an Army greensuit firefighter for 23 years, and a DOD civilian for 12. GO AIR FORCE. The rank structure is better, the apparatus are better, and the training is available.

              Getting further training beyond basics in the Army was non-existant. DOD certs are required for certain positions, but I guess not if your active duty or Army Reserve (unless you were stationed at a base that did the training). The Army does not put the priority on fire protection like the AF did, and many times, the rules and regs were bent or broken at the whim of a base commander. I had a "fire chief" who had never been a firefighter before, but since he was an E-7 (Sergeant First Class) he got to be the fire chief. Stay AWAY from the Army for firefighting. Also, none fo the active duty firefighters I met in Iraq were doing fire protection. They were sent over to do other details. Most active duty guys were assigned to an ordinance unit. If you had a nice commander, he/she may detail you to the fire department, but you still answered to your company. There are a few lucky ones who get firefighting duty. Ft Rucker and Alaska come to mind, and life seemed good.

              The few Marines I worked with did ARFF only, except for Iraq where they did it all because they were all the base had. They seemed high-speed and well trained.

              If I had it to do all over again, I would have chose the Air Force. Check with an AF recruiter, or visit a local AFB and talk to one of the active duty guys. You will not see a lot of fires, becasue they primary job of the fire department is PREVENTION. My base (one of the larger ones) had 2-3 structure fires a year. When we deployed, even in a war zone, there was not a lot of firefighting. Except for tents, which were suround and drown anyway, there were very few fires. Most of our time was spent running medical calls, ARFF standbys, and various other sh** details the base would heap on us. Even during attacks, not a lot of things burned. Now vehicle extrications were another matter - quite a few.

              That's active duty. Civilian GS scale firefighters are another matter, and a different animal all together.

              About certifications - depends on where you want to go after the military. I went to a municipal department, and they liked the DOD certs just fine. They don't mean squat after the rank of Captain though. AAS or BA in fire science, management, etc are what goes here. If you work as a civilian on a military base, DOD certs are the law. BA in fire service management? They don't care. You have to have certain DOD certifications to be a fire chief, captain, etc.

              As far as vets points, it is up to the employer to give vets
              credit. DOD gives 5 points if you meet certain criteria, DFD Airport does if you meet thier criteria (or used to), my department DOES NOT give vets preference PERIOD.

              Again, talk to a recruiter AND some Air Force firefighters before you make a decision. Good luck, and THANK YOU more considering the military.


              • #8
                I've worked with lots of former Air Force FFs and 1 Army FF. I can say the Air Force guys seem to get a good education and training. I'm not saying they are your best bet, however I do think the Air Force, Marines or Army would be a better bet than the Navy due to the fact that thier FF is geared more towards Shipboard FFing.



                • #9

                  Thanks to everyone for your detailed responses. Sorry if this questoin is a bit obvious, but what are DoD certs? If I'm able to get an Air Force slot sounds like ill jump on that. Once my enlistment is over Id be looking at Chicago Fire Department or the suburbs, Do they like DoD certs?

                  Thanks again


                  • #10
                    DoD = Department of Defense, all branches of the military are under the DoD and share a common certification system which has reciprocity with two "national" certification bodies (IFSAC and Proboard). If you go to the sites I listed they give a break down of the states that use the two systems, I don't see Illinois so I'm guessing they don't recognize the certs, however if you check with the state they could give you details of reciprocity or whether it is possible to challenge Illinois certs.

                    Last year there was some talk of offering recruitmwnt bonuses for the firefighter specialty although the general opinion of Air Force FF was why? seems that is not an area short of interested bodies.

                    Another thought, most military FF will get experience with aircraft FF as good or better than what most airport firefighters have. Even if the DoD certs won't help you where ever you decide to go after yor service, you may have a better than average chance at an airport FF job which could in turn be a way to get the local certs. Also as I mentioned the DoD certs are used by civilian DoD fire departments and Great Lakes Naval Training Center is near Chicago, coming out with a set of DoD certs and prior military service you probably have a decent chance of landing a job at most civilian DoD departments.

                    You probably can get more advice if you go to the Federal FF forum located further down the forum list.


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