A quiet evening in the fire station is abruptly broken when the alarms blare and the dispatcher is heard giving prompt information about the caller and the given address. Regardless of what the first responders are doing when the call is received they drop whatever it is and quickly head to the truck bay and head into their vehicles. Even if they were sound asleep or eating the first meal of the day they go to where they are needed. Quickly they turn on the vehicles and the sirens and cut through traffic to reach their destination as soon as possible. The weather or dangers present do not matter as we are here to brave it all.
The educational requirements are quite basic to become a firefighter/ EMT. In the state of Texas both firefighter and emt education is required to become a state certified firefighter. In other words, both fire and emt certifications are required in order to achieve a state certification. Without one state certification is not possible. Primarily a high school diploma or GED equivalent is required to be admitted into the programs. In order to enter the training programs for both a TSI is required from the candidate. A TSI is a form of knowledge testing to see just how much intelligence one has.
Candidates will then be separated from the highest to the lowest scoring. Of course, depending on the number of candidates will depend on how many will be accepted, as in if the ones with a low score will be accepted as well. Other requirements are health insurance and an up-to-date vaccination card. After all are presented and have met the satisfactory requirements of the program then the candidate will have an interview with the head of the program. After the interview, there may be a waiting period of about a week or two and then news of acceptance or denial will be received by the candidate.
Next topic would of course be the salary of a basic firefighter/emt in the state of Texas. The salary heavily depends on the city or jurisdiction and how they handle it. In Odessa, the starting salary would be about $45,000. Or if starting at the cadet position (which is a position below firefighter, available only if acquiring certifications by way of department funding. Explained in later paragraph) which would result in about $38,000 salary. Of course, with promotions comes more money in the department. The salary is good for a single person. Although several firefighters on the department can support a family off a firefighter salary.
The salary is not the absolute highest paying in the area but it is totally worth it. At least in the opinion of others it is. Job security is very, very crucial in this time and age. If no job is held then neither is food, home, or any form of prosperity. Every year at Odessa Fire and Rescue there are about two hire on opportunities. Hire on opportunities are the stages or the process OFR utilizes to hire new employees or returning employees. It starts out with a general aptitude test which tests basic knowledge such as English, math, mechanical aptitude, etc. It is not just limited to this though.
A minimum of an 80 is required to continue in the process. A physical test proceeds after this, of course upon passing the general aptitude test, in which the candidate dons bunker gear and goes through a rigorous course set up by the department. A maximum of 6 minutes is allowed for completion. Anything exceeding that and the candidate is disqualified and sent home. Upon completion and meeting the requirements for the physical portion the candidate moves up to the interview panel. The interview panel consists of firefighters, captains, and chiefs who ask the candidate several questions.
If the interview panel is satisfied with the candidate’s responses then the candidate moves to an interview with the chief. If the chief is satisfied with the candidate then he/she is now hired onto the department as a full-time firefighter. There are usually at least 14 spots open so job security is good when it comes to OFR. Regarding travel opportunities, OFR does not offer many opportunities. The only travel opportunities it offers is the jurisdictions around Odessa when calls are received regarding incidents outside of Odessa.
Otherwise OFR does not really offer travel opportunities. So, this area is very limited as travel is limited. Besides that, incidents happen across town so the only travel that occurs would be across and around town. One of the most important factors when it comes to careers is the retirement benefits. And Odessa Fire and Rescue has some of the best nationwide!! The retirement age along with some of the overall benefits have recently been changed. The age was previously 50 with 25 years of service prior to it. Now it is at the age of 55 but with the same amount of years of service.
The amount of money in one’s pension could end up in amounts with up to 6 figures, which is a lot of money especially at the age of 55. OFR matches up to 7. 65% per paycheck in your pension which is a great amount of money adding into one’s pension especially after 25 years of service and it turns out even better if even more years of service are added to those 25 by starting out in the department at a young age such as 18 which is possible of course through the Fire Academy program only available through high school. Finally, job advancements.
Job advancements are very crucial in a career. And at OFR there are multiple job advancements available. The several promotions are as follow: Firefighter, Engineer, Captain, Battalion Chief, District Chief, Assistant Chief, Fire Marshal, Assistant Fire Marshal, and ultimately Fire Chief. There are other positions available and these promotions are not all in order as different routes can be achieved. Overall there are many promotions available, of course years of experience are required and different education courses are also required to rank up.
These courses can be paid full by OFR. One can choose the route by which he/she moves up through the ranks. The only downside is that one must compete for the position as position space becomes limited especially when there are multiple candidates applying for the position. But if one has the endeavor to do so then promotion will more than likely follow. In conclusion, becoming a firefighter/emt is a great choice especially here locally at OFR. The salary is great, the opportunities are great, the promotions involved are even better!
I would greatly encourage anyone interested in the position to pursue it and try it out because this career choice is one of a kind and one of the best jobs in the world. Unfortunately, this career is not meant for everyone. It is honestly meant for those who are courageous and brave in mind and heart. Additionally, it is a difficult career option but is totally worth all the hard work and has one of the greatest payouts imaginable which, of course, is the satisfaction of helping out and making a huge difference in the community and other communities as well.