There has been talk on the interwebs lately about how to grab a municipal Fire Department spot. A lot of the advice focuses on getting higher training in the largest aspect of the modern Fire Service, EMS.

The advice is not to become an accomplished caregiver, or to strive to learn what new techniques and treatments may be coming down the line, but to simply “get your Paramedic.”

I have advice to anyone thinking about going to Paramedic school in order to get on with the Fire Department. I’ve said it before.

They want you to work as a Paramedic after you get hired.

Simply getting your license will not move you to the top of the firefighter list, but to the bottom of the Paramedic list. I know some departments offer extra points for your EMT-P, some even make it a requirement. But please believe me when I tell you, they want Paramedics, not just folks who can check that box on the form.

I pursued my Paramedic license when I became frustrated I couldn’t do everything for my patients. That pursuit taught me more about myself than the workings of the EMS systems I would join in the future.

It was my license that got me off the list of 10,000 people and onto the list of 2,000. Better odds surely, but I still had to prove myself a competent Paramedic.

And when I started, the closest I got the the fire engines was parking next to them in my ambulance, where I worked as a Paramedic/Firefighter, not a Firefighter/Paramedic.

If you want to earn and use your Paramedic license in the Fire Service, then by all means, go for it. Write me, I’ll help you study. But if you’re looking to check a box on a form to get a job you desire without fulfilling the requirements of that job, do my family a favor and stay home. I’d rather have a dedicated EMT than a card carrying disinterested Paramedic.

Apply for the job you want and then DO IT. Don’t waste your time and mine on a class when someone who actually wants to participate in patient care could use your seat.

If you really want to get a job in this tough economy, go back to school. Local trade schools offer EMS and fire training these days. Take the intro class and see what it’s all about.

Drop the attitude. Wherever you are testing needs to be considered your very first fire job, if it isn’t already. All your experience, ideas and concepts need to be put on the back burner. Learn the way they do things. Their ladders, their supply lines, their chain of command.

Test, test and test again.

I wrote the above passage over a year ago and never published it.  I have a great many posts I wrote when emotional and set aside to wait until, well, who knows.

A reader reached out about motivation to get through Paramedic School on the way to getting on with the fire department.  Since you now know where I stand on this, both from this post and another from awhile back, I need a favor for this reader.

I’ll call him Bob.  I suggested Bob look outside the overpopulated systems of California for a place that will hire firefighters who are not Paramedics.  While a quick internet search can find specifics on salary and duties, I was hoping you could give a brief feeling of the department near you that is hiring.

If your department or one near you is hiring or about to hire, please leave info about it in the comments section.  I’ve asked Bob to look there for advice on where to look for a job with the FD without having to get his Paramedic, something it seems is not on his priority list to begin with.

And before you decide to spout off against Bob for his decision, keep in mind he is doing the right thing before it is too late.

So in the end I tip my helmet to you “Bob” for reaching out for an opinion from a stranger and listening to it.  It isn’t easy to hear something you don’t want to hear, but even harder to come to terms with where you are compared to where you want to be.

Thanks, guys.

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