The City of Chicago Fire System is considered one of the prestigious Fire Departments in the country. To bolster this point, there is a new show coming onto TV with Chicago Fire as the setting. I think part of the prestige comes from the history of fire in the city, originating with Old Lady Leery's cow-a rhyme that I learned in elementary school in California (and I've heard isn't true).
The City of Chicago has its own process for becoming a FireFighter, not the least part of which is a very strict residency requirement. I decided that I would instead focus on the suburbs.
Every suburban department has some structure in place for creating a list of potential applicants, we will discuss some of these as we talk about specific departments. Mostly, you take written exams, pass a physical, and go through an interview. If they like you, you're put on a list of candidates. Otherwise, the Suburbs subscribe to the general Illinois guidelines. The most troubling to me was the age restriction.
Once you have turned 35 you can no longer apply to any Fire departments. When I started looking into this, I was 33.
The upside is that, once you are on a list, it doesn't matter how old you are. The downside is that all suburban departments reset lists ever 2 years. The City of Chicago, by way of comparison, doesn't test for lists as often, but when they do, you are on the list indefinitely.
After talking to my wife and not praying about it enough, I made a list of the things I needed to accomplish as quickly as possible. This was the list:
1. Start applying to Fire Departments immediately.
2. Get in shape - fast
3. Learn as much as I can about firefighting for the tests.
4. See if there are any prereq's I can get out of the way that will make me look more attractive.
What I didn't think about, but have alluded to in these little discourses, is that I didn't turn enough of this process over to Christ. I prayed, I got advice from Godly people, but I didn't really turn my heart to what God wanted for me. I wanted him to support what I was doing.
By his grace, he used this process to gently break me.