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how am I able to start my path in firefighting/emt?

I am a uprising 11th grader in NYC. Just wondering how I may take a step into this field...

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Ryan’s Answer

Hello Elizabeth. thanks for your interest in Fire and EMS. Because you're in high school still, there won't be a ton of opportunities but there may be some.

What I did was contact the closest surrounding fire departments and asked if they had any kind of youth programs. I ended up doing one called the Explorer program where we got to come in and train once a month and got to do unlimited ride-alongs with an engine company. Some departments may refer to these as junior firefighters, explorers, cadets, etc. If no such program around you exists, they might at least have a smaller scale program like Project Ember, or an Xplore Academy which is usually more like a weeklong day camp in the summer to expose you to firefighting. If you can't find a program like that, your best bet may be to just focus on school until you turn 18. Do sports to build your fitness and teamwork abilities. Consider a part-time job or volunteer work as a lifeguard, camp counselor, senior center, etc.

Once you turn 18, the options really open up. At 18 you're probably qualified to become a volunteer firefighter, enroll* in an EMT class at your local college, etc. Around here wildland firefighting is a big need, and wildland firefighters have significantly less training requirements that structural firefighters. So, becoming a seasonal wildland firefighter is a great way to quickly get your foot in the door and start gaining experience.

*Some colleges will let you enroll before 18, you just can't take the national registry of EMTs test until your 18. So if you turn 18 mid-semester you may still be able to enroll.

That's what I'd recommend for now. I'm happy to answer any follow-up questions you have. For the best advice specific to your geographic area, I'd reach out to your local fire department and ask to speak with the training officer.

Good luck!
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Amina’s Answer

Starting a career in firefighting and becoming an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) involves several steps. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you begin your journey:

1. **Educational Requirements**

High School
- **Diploma or GED:** Ensure you complete high school or obtain a GED. Focus on courses such as biology, chemistry, physical education, and health.

2. **Basic Requirements**
- **Age:** Most departments require candidates to be at least 18 years old.
- **Driver’s License:** A valid driver’s license is usually required.

3. **Physical Fitness**
- **Stay Fit:** Firefighting is a physically demanding job. Maintain a high level of physical fitness through regular exercise, strength training, and cardiovascular workouts.

4. **Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Certification**

EMT Training
- **Find a Program:** Enroll in an accredited EMT program. Community colleges, technical schools, and local emergency services organizations often offer these programs.
- **Duration:** EMT-Basic (EMT-B) programs typically take about 6 months to complete.
- **Coursework:** The program includes classroom instruction and hands-on training in areas such as patient assessment, trauma care, and emergency response.

- **Pass the Exam:** After completing the training program, you must pass the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) exam to become a certified EMT.
- **State Certification:** Some states have additional certification requirements, so check with your state’s EMS office.

5. **Firefighter Training**

Fire Academy
- **Enroll:** Many aspiring firefighters attend a fire academy. Some community colleges offer fire science programs that include fire academy training.
- **Curriculum:** Training covers fire suppression, hazardous materials, rescue operations, and fire prevention.
- **Physical Training:** Expect rigorous physical training to ensure you meet the physical demands of the job.

6. **Gain Experience**

- **Fire Department:** Consider volunteering with a local fire department. This provides valuable hands-on experience and networking opportunities.

7. **Apply for Firefighter Positions**

Job Search
- **Fire Departments:** Check job listings for local fire departments. Apply to multiple departments to increase your chances of being hired.
- **Testing:** Many fire departments require candidates to pass written exams, physical agility tests, and interviews.

8. **Continuous Education and Advancement**

Advanced EMT or Paramedic
- **Further Training:** Consider advancing your EMT certification to Advanced EMT (AEMT) or Paramedic. This requires additional training and education.
- **Specialized Training:** Look into specialized certifications such as Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT), Technical Rescue, or Fire Inspector.

9. **Professional Development**

Stay Informed
- **Training and Conferences:** Attend training sessions, workshops, and conferences to stay updated on the latest firefighting techniques and technologies.
- **Networking:** Join professional organizations such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) or the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF).

10. **Additional Considerations**

Background Check
- **Clean Record:** Fire departments often require background checks. A clean criminal record is essential.
- **Medical Examination:** A thorough medical examination is typically required to ensure you are physically fit for the job.

To start your path in firefighting and EMT:
1. Complete high school or obtain a GED.
2. Maintain physical fitness.
3. Obtain EMT certification through an accredited program and pass the NREMT exam.
4. Attend a fire academy for firefighter training.
5. Gain experience through volunteering.
6. Apply for firefighter positions and pass required tests.
7. Consider further training to advance your career.
8. Stay informed and network within the profession.

By following these steps, you can build a strong foundation for a successful career as a firefighter and EMT.
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Joseph’s Answer

Finding a nearby volunteer agency is the easiest bet. Once you are accepted as a member they should sponsor you for training which will enable you to respond to 911 calls and help you begin a career. Continuing to take classes and add certifications to your resumè will help you advance your career.