My Education: MA, Public Administration
My Prior Experience: I worked as an EMT before becoming a firefighter, advanced to Lieutenant, Captain, District Chief and now Deputy Chief.
My Company: I work for a big city fire department in central Massachusetts and I am currently its fire marshal in charge of all fire prevention services.
Job/Career Overview: The Fire Department is involved in many areas of fire suppression and rescue. We provide the standard structural firefighting services along with several technical rescue services such as SCUBA teams and ice rescue, trench rescue, high-angle rescue, collapse rescue and response to hazardous materials accidents.
The fire department is involved in public education, fire investigations, inspectional services and fire protection systems plans review. We also investigate and address all fire-related complaints.
Firefighters are required to have a high school diploma or equivalent and in most cases must pass a civil service entrance exam. After the exam, if selected, they are required to complete a physical agility test, medical and psychological exams and an oral interview. A full criminal background check is completed along with a financial report and past employment history.
Firefighting is a physically demanding job and is becoming far more scientific than in the past. Continuous training and education programs are provided for the department at the college and local level.
I rate this career 10 out of 10.
The best part of being a firefighter is being able to serve the community. Firefighters are highly regarded by the public and enjoy an enormous amount of respect and trust. We are allowed access into peoples homes in the event of an emergency and are given complete trust with their lives and valuables.
The worst part of the job is seeing the suffering that comes with house fires, vehicle accidents and medical emergencies. The devastation or total loss caused by a house fire is tremendously painful for its inhabitants who often lose everything. Sometimes we are unable to save the lives that we work so hard to protect, and the loss of life can be very painful to see.
The fire department is a great career with many rewards both personally and professionally.
Civil service jobs are very competitive and have many stipulations. Most civil service jobs allow some form of "veteran's preference," so serving in the country's military is an ideal stepping stone to becoming a firefighter. There are college courses in fire science that can help provide you with a foundation for the exam. Becoming an EMT or paramedic is also an excellent way to make yourself more marketable