Is anyone here a firefighter? I’m seriously thinking of joining this profession. Any pros and cons to it?
I have been a firefighter for about four years now. I am a paid-on-call volunteer, so I don’t do it as a profession, but I did have to go through much of the same training as the career people.
I do know that positions for career firefighters can be quite competitive. For instance, the Phoenix Fire Department can get up to 2,000 applications for only about 25 positions. The NYFD can be much the same way. But don’t get discouraged, I’ve seen a lot of people make it onto career departments.
I would suggest for now that you get on a volunteer department if you can. It’s a good way to get experience and state certifications that you will need. Also, almost every career department is heavily involved in EMS, if not totally in charge of it. So you may also want to get any EMT/Paramedic certifications if you can.
Remember, city fire departments are very bureaucratic, so the less they have to train you when you come on, they less you will cost them, thus the more attractive you will be during recruitment.
Also, get yourself in shape! Almost all firefighters have to pass CPAT (Certified Physical Agility Test) to be considered for the academy. I saw guys 10 years younger than me blacking out and throwing up have way through it. It’s a killer.
The pros are getting to help people when they really need it. It can also be very exciting when the tones go out.
One con is the pay stinks. Most people have to work a second job when they are not on shift. It can also be very demanding on you physically and mentally. I recently had to pull a dead body out of a ditch after a car wreck. Some images just stick with you.
There is of course your usual politics and bureaucratic BS you have to tolerate.
In spite of all this, for some reason once it gets in your blood it’s hard to resist.
God bless and good luck!
I’m not a firefighter, but my brother and one of my sisters are. There are a lot of benefits as well as a lot of negatives, just like any other physically and emotionally demanding occupation. The main pro, from what I hear from my family, is that you get to make a HUGE difference in other peoples’ lives. The biggest con would probably have to be the emotional toll it takes on you. When you have to deal with things on a daily basis that most people only have to deal with a few times over the course of a lifetime, it takes its toll. Be prepared to avail yourself of all the psychological counseling that is offered during those high-stress times. It is literally a lifesaver for many firefighters. I would second what the previous poster said regarding being in good physical condition before even applying. If you can’t pull your own weight (literally and figuratively), then you are a detriment to your squad as well as to the victim you are supposed to be helping.
Being a firefighter/paramedic/EMT can be a very rewarding career. If this is your calling in life, you will know. Best of luck to you!