H8 - Part time San Francisco Fire Department paramedic.



Forum Lieutenant
So is SFFD EMS and Suppression totally separated then? Like once you cross train as a FF and move from the ambulance to the Engine/Ladder, do you ever still work shifts on the ambulance? Or once your a FF you only work Suppression apparatus with no cross over between FFs and EMT/PMs?
Not totally.

After your cross train any shifts you work on the ambulance are completely voluntary. Not a lot of firefighters pick up ambulance shifts though. I've only done it twice because they let me pick my partner and hours. A few do to keep their skills up and a few do it because they love overtime. We're super short on suppression and EMS though so most firefighters are working suppression OT right now.

There are no ambulances out of the firehouses. They deploy dynamically from the street and have a giant ambulance barn called Station 49 (EMS personnel are called the 49ers haha) right behind our Station 9 fire station.

In recent years if a firefighter wants to promote to firefighter paramedic they make them spend six months or 1000 hours on an ambulance before they can go back to an Engine and their seniority goes to the bottom of the firefighter paramedic list even if they have like 20 years as a firefighter. Both those things stop a lot firefighters with their paramedic license from going that route. First or second year firefighters promoting to fire medic makes the most sense because you have no seniority and it ends up being like a 50,000 raise in like the first year. I think our firefighters start at like 76 or 80k and our first step firefighter paramedic is like 132k now or something. We just got a raise so I don't know the numbers anymore.

If a regular firefighter wants to pick up OT on the ambulance they have to do a two day class. Personally, I'm just happy to have the option if I ever wanted to pick up a box shift and visit the ER staff I miss haha.

If you get hired in EMS you have to do a two month academy and a year of probation. You cross train in the same academy as all the civilian firefighters but that is 5 months. I've done both academies. Always thought it was funny that when firefighters came over for OT they were expected to know in a two day class what I learned in a two month academy. Kind of shows what the department thinks of EMS lol. Our Chief now is an ex-fire medic though so she kind of gets it.

There's also a lot of cross over in training because obviously all our EMS training is done primarily by EMS personnel and captains. Firefighters can also promote up the EMS ranks but if you do that you're basically kissing suppression goodbye. There are "rescue captain" positions which is basically a paramedic supervisor and they respond out of 4 of our fire stations in buggies to all critical calls or MCIs but it'll take a decade of seniority to make a field RC spot at this point. You'll either get stuck in radio or training or station 49. Oh there's also a field RC spot at the airport but you need to be cross trained suppression to go work at the airport.

When I was with Honolulu EMS there were all kinds of merger rumors with HFD lol (SFFD merged or more like took over EMS from the Department of Public health a little over 20 years ago now only a few DPHers left on suppression). Thought it might happen at the time. HFD will never go ALS though haha. Firefighter paramedic is a great gig though. I get to fight fires and I only have to stick around in the back of an ambulance for the cool or fun EMS calls.


Forum Deputy Chief
When I was with Honolulu EMS there were all kinds of merger rumors with HFD lol
Without intending to derail anything... rumors still lersist but are still just rumors. Although EMS is apparently trialing a new dark blue uniform a lot closer in color to FDs vs the white shirts they wear, and at least a few units in Downtown Honolulu are being converted to BLS units with a couple Medic SUVs (Rapid Response Units), so a couple medics floated the theory that that could serve as a basis for a model where BLS Fire guys can do BLS ambulance with the ALS Medics in SUVs Squad style.... there's absolutely nothing from our Chiefs to even support any of that, but since pretty much our entire Executive Staff (Fire Chief, Deputy Chief, and all the Assistant Chiefs) are changing out this year we'll see if any of that ends up gaining traction....