Firefighters in NYC
Why pursue a career in firefighting? A simple question for Lieutenant Hector Tyler (soon to be Captain) and Firefighter Francesca Smith (soon to be Lieutenant) of the New York City Fire Department who, recently interviewed by Education Update, disclosed a passion and desire to help people above all.
Tyler, 23-years in the Fire Department and currently commanding officer in their Office of Recruitment and Diversity, is the son of a NY firefighter. He attained a degree in physical therapy, and following the advice of his father, took civil service exams, including firefighting which enabled him to work in both fields concurrently. He strongly recommends a dual career to young people, pointing out that the firefighting schedule is flexible (24 hours on and three days off) and therefore permits many dentists, pilots, architects, nurses, and physician assistants to pursue dual careers as fire fighters.
Lt. Tyler has a great affinity for working in the fire department, describing it as “the best job in the world.” He was awarded a medal for his performance in a rescue, climbing a 35 foot ladder, perching himself against a window sill to bring a firefighter—caught between floors—and a civilian to safety. When asked about the dangers inherent in the job, he responded that key skills are developed during training, and significant improvements have been made to the quality of equipment over the years; that while yes, there are risks, they are no greater than working as an electrician in Con Edison, or in a water tunnel.
Firefighting is an incredible career for women, according to Francesca Smith. “People from different cultures will bring different qualities to the job.” The path leading her to where she is today is inspiring. After graduating from college with a major in psychology she was unsure of what the future would hold. The recommendation of a co-worker to become a firefighter “lit a spark in her head;” she felt this was the career for her given her background of consistently excelling in sports activities, receiving, during college, the title of Regional All-American Field Hockey Player, and as a member of the fire department boxing team, “The Daily News Golden Gloves” in 2003. Above all, Smith responded to the ability to help other human beings in her career in the NYFD.
For those wishing to begin a challenging, fulfilling career in the fire department, Tyler and Smith advise that it’s important to do well in high school. To prepare for the competitive exam, Barron’s and Arco offer preparation texts and course listings are printed in The Chief.
New recruits are required to have either 15 college credits, or at least six months of work or military service experience. To move up in the ranks, departments request college credits, or equivalent reading, and it is beneficial to major in city management or fire science.
Smith’s advice specifically to women is: “Don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t do something.” She suggests taking all available tests so as to secure options and to utilize the in-house women’s organization composed of volunteers who help female firefighters pass exams. Salaries are excellent: $25,100 for the first 13 weeks of training, $32,700 plus fringe after training, $63,309 plus fringe after 5.5 years.
Joining the fire department is the closest you can come to being a superhero in the real world!#
Recruitment closes October 13, 2006, and will not reopen for four years, so those interested must act immediately.