Which is better: working for a private ambulance company or a fire department?

Torzv

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I don't especially like working with fire, but I know if I want to work for a fire department I will have to get a minimal of fire 1 and 2 certifications and Haz-mat technician. I have heard that working for private ambulance services is a not a good idea because your job is insecure. I don't know if that is a true, but I just want to get some opinions on the matter from some more experienced EMTS and Medics.
 

Underoath87

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FD/county EMS is generally the way to go. The benefits are way better, and you do have much more job security. But there is also a lot of competition for those jobs, so you should try to get hired by a private service in the meantime.
 

Handsome Robb

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So my healthcare and what not is better than the FDs and PDs here but their pension trumps my 401k any day of the week.

Generally county based services are going to have a higher salary but county doesn't mean job security. One of our FDs here keeps laying people off and hiring them back. We haven't laid anyone off ever that I know of but we're a special private as we operate under a Public Utility Model. My salary is also above the national average, I've got no state taxes and our cost of living is under the national average, not by much but it is.

If you don't really want a fire job you're going to have a tough time landing one as there are thousands out there that would kill for a spot.

From the sounds of it you should look at departments that are either county run as a third service (EMS only) or FDs that have single roll medical providers. Most of the time you're going to have to be a paramedic for these spots as a single roll but there are departments that employ EMTs as "Ambulance Operators" and they are not part of the suppression side of the department.
 

chaz90

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Don't completely generalize. There are some good private places to work in EMS, and there are certainly god-awful municipal or fire based agencies. Really, I think it's important to distinguish between four primary models of US EMS: Private; Hospital based; Government third service; and FD.

Private: Often the easiest to get hired, commonly plenty of OT available. IFT is common as that's where money is available. Some do primarily or exclusively 911 however with separate IFT divisions. Can have some opportunities for truly interesting and complex CCT, but you don't get to play with that side as a basic. Pay is usually the lowest, and posting is the norm rather than stations. When you go on a call, you are often the only unit sent. Benefit packages can be lacking. Common complaints with this model (although not all apply to the good private systems) are that IFTs take priority over 911, equipment can be old or beaten up, and that management is disconnected and profit driven.

Hospital based: Often better relationships with hospital and ED staff as you know them and work for the same employer. Potential for more advanced and involved medical direction, and even possible research between EMS and ED. Often better results with cooperation between EMS and hospital on various alerts and patient follow up. Pay varies wildly, as do transfers vs. 911 and posting vs. stations.

Government Third Service: Typically decent pay and benefits. Usually station based with minimal or no posting. In general, management is more willing to stand up for you than in the stereotypical private service. Much more of a 911 focus, and many don't do any transfers at all. Much more job security than privates unless the city/county decides to attempt to save money and send out a private RFP. Much more competitive than many privates, and experience typically required along with passing what can be extensive interview processes. Government bureaucracy can be slow to change and adapt. Equipment and vehicles depend solely on the fiscal status of the city/county. Again, no way to generalize here.

FD: Good variety for those who like fire, EMS, and rescue. If you get bored with one aspect, you're not stuck. In many parts of the country, this is by far the most competitive EMS job to get. Potentially thousands of applicants for very fee positions as so many desire to be firefighters. For those who are more focused on EMS, you may find many coworkers want to do fire only and are horrible providers and are paramedics in name only. Some departments use the EMS side as punishment or the :censored::censored::censored::censored::censored::censored::censored: step child. Pensions, benefits, and pay are typically great. Best job security out of all models. Station based, and plenty of help on scene always available when needed. More importantly, you know what help is coming and work with them day in and day out.


The most important thing to remember is that each system and work environment should be judged solely on it's own merits rather than a label. If you've seen one EMS system, you've seen one EMS system. Decide what you want most, and work towards that.
 

lwems

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I think he covered everything, except for the seniority issue.

At most fire departments, seniority is a Big Deal, and there is absolutely no way to short-cut through the system no matter how smart or capable or hardworking you are. The guys who've been there longest, will always get first pick of shifts, posts, and trucks.

Whereas at most private companies, at least the smaller ones not yet acting corporate, if you show up, work hard, take on responsibility, look after your fellow coworkers, and show management that you're playing the long game, you'll be promoted VERY quickly.

Good supervisors are hard to find, so at a private company you can be a station captain in less than a year.
 

Handsome Robb

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I think he covered everything, except for the seniority issue.

At most fire departments, seniority is a Big Deal, and there is absolutely no way to short-cut through the system no matter how smart or capable or hardworking you are. The guys who've been there longest, will always get first pick of shifts, posts, and trucks.

Whereas at most private companies, at least the smaller ones not yet acting corporate, if you show up, work hard, take on responsibility, look after your fellow coworkers, and show management that you're playing the long game, you'll be promoted VERY quickly.

Good supervisors are hard to find, so at a private company you can be a station captain in less than a year.

I disagree with this.

Seniority is just as prevalent in the private sector. Everything we do is based on seniority.
 
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Torzv

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In my county, Fds strictly have a two year probation period....Hopefully in the next two years we have a big hiring spree, I'm in my first semester of my paramedic program, I'm going for my Associates. I also plan on taking fire academy this summer.
 

Handsome Robb

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I thought you didn't want to work for fire?
 

mycrofft

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Can' hurt to have more than one string in your bow.
 

Handsome Robb

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Seems to me that if you're goal is medicine why not use that money to further your education in what you're interested in rather than doing the academy "just in case". That's a lot of time and money.
 

Tigger

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Outside of cities, paid fire doesn't always pay as well as people seem to think. Many fire districts that cover unincorporated areas can only rely on their mill levy, so wages may not be very high. I make the same money at my ambulance district (funded by mill levy and patient transports) as some of the neighboring FDs make simply because their levy isn't high and there isn't a high population.
 

Angel

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to be blunt you are wasting your time. I highly doubt and would dare say KNOW you will not get hired over someone who's passion is firefighting.
you want to work at a fire department and not fight fires? good luck with that.
you want money and benefits, job security? be a nurse, no fire academy needed.

this is just as irritating as firefighters who become medics just to land a job, they are crappy providers.
 

rescue1

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If you don't want to be a firefighter, don't be a firefighter. Much in the same way that no one likes a fire/medic who hates being a medic, as a firefighter who hates fire, you'll be doing a disservice to your crew, who are relying on you in dangerous and physically demanding situations. Plus you'll be miserable doing fire related training, which is likely where most of your drilling will be.

That being said, there are some fire departments that hire single role paramedics (who are FD employees but not firefighters). That would be a different story.
 

Handsome Robb

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To be honest you're not going to get a fire job unless you really want it. Like I said before there are people who would kill for those spots.

I know a guy who's tested at 14 different departments. 1...4...and still hasn't gotten a job and that's all he wants to do is play with hoses and he has a medic cert.
 

sweetpete

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FWIW....I worked a private in Cleveland (OH) until I got hired on a FD in Houston (TX). There's NO COMPARISON. The benefits and pay here are way better than back home. More professional and higher standards. Just what I noticed.

That being said, I'm a medic on a fire truck. Most of the guys don't care for EMS but I do. If you're passionate about EMS, I'd recommend looking at a FD or county EMS.

Just a thought.
 

ZombieEMT

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I don't especially like working with fire, but I know if I want to work for a fire department I will have to get a minimal of fire 1 and 2 certifications and Haz-mat technician. I have heard that working for private ambulance services is a not a good idea because your job is insecure. I don't know if that is a true, but I just want to get some opinions on the matter from some more experienced EMTS and Medics.

Sometimes working EMS via FD also is insecure. Many areas are making EMS privatized or hospital based. If a private company can put in a zero bid, making profit only from billing, it is cheaper for the FD/Municalpity. They do not have to worry about the medical end and have fewer employees on the pay roll. Something that has been happening a lot near me.
 

titmouse

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If you want to make better money and actually use what you have learned it is better to work on becoming a firefighter. Unless your state has FD and EMS separate. Private companies tend to not pay much and more than likely you will only do IFT calls and get paid enough not to quit.
 

TransportJockey

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If you want to make better money and actually use what you have learned it is better to work on becoming a firefighter. Unless your state has FD and EMS separate. Private companies tend to not pay much and more than likely you will only do IFT calls and get paid enough not to quit.

Keep in mind in other states other than Florida, private companies do run 911 as either primary or transport
 
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