How difficult is it to transfer from one city to the next as a career FF? Does it get easier with EMT/Paramedic certifications? I know that most openings have age limits (35 years for example) for entry level FF, are there any restrictions for an older career FF? Just need to pass a fit test and physical? I am 31 and I am going to change careers into career full time FF and also work towards a paramedic certification and I just need some more information. I currently work for the USDA-ARS and I have a M.S. in Rangeland Ecology and Management.
Depends on the community and the state*
Once again, depends on the town and state*.
The ability to "transfer" depends on several factors. Unlike the fedgov service, where you can simply apply to fill a vacant billett somewhere, each department has it's own rules and regs for hiring and promotions (as well as day-to-day operational rules) that are usually dictated by the state they're in. In Illinois, it's called the Rules for Board of Fire and Police Commisioners (BOFPC), and it sets rules for minimum/maximum ages, basic qualifications, etc. This is your first hurdle. FF jobs are usually min 21 (sometimes 18), and a max of 35 (depending on pension). The Board may alsoe be allowed under state law to allott extra points during the examination process to people with previous FF & EMS training - a recognition of their dedication and the fact that they'll save the FD money in training and OT to get them "up to speed". In addition, IL recently passed the "pension portability act" that precludes the 35 max to FF's already in an established muni pension. Several pension boards also allow you to credit time served in .mil towards your pensionable time through a cash "buy-in" program. You still start as a probie with day 1 pay, but you can retire earlier.
Even if the FD doesn't "officially" offer points for prior FF/EMT/P training, most places will nudge you towards the top of the list if they know you have them. (hint - even though the appliocation may not ask for copies of your creds, include them)
Most tests have a physical agility, written examination, and oral interview portions. You get the physical (med) screening, poly and drug drop once you're selected.
If you've already gotten training from your VFD it should definitely help in your application process.
BTW, you might want to check the sticky at the top of the forum.
Like Tango7 said it depends on where you live and how the departments around you operate. Here in AZ most departments don't allow lateral transfers although that is possibly changing here pretty quick as the people in the DROP program start to retire (I think PHX has to hire like 400-600 in the next 3 or 4 years).
Here the process usually consist of the written test (either packet or video test) then the physical (CPAT) and two interviews. Then my department requires the same background check PD uses and a 5 weeks internship which is two days a week and we take twice as many people as we intend to hire to that. Then we hire who we like and put them through the recruit academy which is 12 weeks 5 days a week.
And here preference points are awarded for past military. Nothing for having your medic or FF1&2. You get your FF1&2 in the academy and once you have two years on your able to test for medic school and our department will send you.
I can honestly say that past life experiences and social interaction skills are what we look for. We are going to be working and living with you for a third of our career and we want to be able to tolerate you. The job itself is pretty simple, its actually making decisions that is the hard part. And I don't think we have an age limit. I was hired with a 40 year old and a 19 year old in my academy.
My best advice is check your area deparments and see what their requirements are. Do ride-a-longs and mock interviews. If you have time get involved in any volunteer areas those departments offer as it is a great way to interact with the crews.
Here is my situation:
1. My wife will be working for the next four years on her Phd.
2. She has applied to Univeristy of Dayton (Dayton, OH), Notre Dame (South Bend, IN), IUPUII (Indianapolis, IN), and Michigan State (Lansing, MI).
3. So far, she has been accepted at Dayton and Notre Dame for Fall Semester 2006.
4. I want to really start a career in FF before I get too old.
5. Our dilema is: When I do get on to a department, are we sort of stuck living there after her Phd is done since trasnfers within the FF system are difficult?
6. What I do know is that the departments in lansing only hire paramedics with no age limits.
7. South Bend stops hiring at 40 years.
ETA: I have been a paid on call FF1 for the city since 2001.