1. #1
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    north of San Francisco

    Default Testing in a Slow Economy

    Testing has always been a very stressful undertaking. The days of walking into a station and getting a job ended long before any of us were born. But if you watch the news, and are aware of what is going on with the economy, especially funding for local and state government, it may seem like an impossible dream. I will tell you it is not.

    When Capt Bob was hired in 1970 he and his group were told not to unpack their things because most likely they would be laid off soon. The California Prop. 13 had changed the way property taxes were levied and the departments in the state were expecting the worst. It had some effect but not that bad. When I was hired in 1988 my group not only was told the same things, but there were signs in front of every station stating that the station may be closed. No stations were closed and we even hired another class after ours. This is not to say that there is not a problem, and there will be cut backs, but that the economy has a regular cycle and every department will continue to need people for staffing.

    One benefit for a person trying to get hired in a poor economy is that in some departments retirements increase. As I am sure we all know there will not be many raises in salary for a while, but in a lot of retirement systems the retirees will get a cost of living increase. In my department for example, if a person was to retire on or before the last day of March, they would receive a 3% COLA raise. With a 3% @ 50 system that is equal to the amount your retirement would increase if they worked an entire year more. Also some departments will offer an early retirement benefit to get seasoned people to leave early. A newly hired person is cheaper, they get less salary, have less sick leave and vacation to use and are less likely to be on Comp.

    So what is one to do if it takes a little longer to get hired? This is a great opportunity to increase your resume and make yourself more attractive to perspective departments. Along with F/F1 and ICS classes, EMT and medic certís, there are a lot of other things you can do to pad you resume and make yourself more hirable. A few of these things include, learning a foreign language, getting a B/A, doing volunteer work, work building construction to increase you knowledge base, and keep yourself out of trouble.

    Obviously you want to keep yourself test ready, physically and mentally. Motivation can be a tough thing to come by when the future is uncertain. The problem is that lack of motivation can keep you from testing well as well as cause you to miss opportunities. I recommend to everyone I talk with to intersperse motivational tapes with their preparation. Zig Ziglar is the best I have heard. Anything you can do to keep on a positive track will help. Surround yourself with people that encourage you, and get a team together to help prepare for tests. Other than actual testing and coaching, nothing will help you prepare over a long term for an oral than practicing in front of people.

    What would you do different if you knew for a fact you had a job waiting for you in two years? While testing may be tough and it may slow a bit in the near future, you still need to have a life. Remember, in 20 years, you will look back on these as the good old days. While I didnít look forward to it then, I look back fondly now at the times I spent the night on the sidewalk to get an application. I made friends I have to this day.

    No matter how bad the economy may be, remember there will always be a fire department. When it comes down to it, people donít care as much about street lights and pot holes as having someone run into their house to put out a fire or save a family member. That will never change. While you may hear politicians talk about cuts, most are well aware that saying youíll cut emergency services gets peoples attention, actually cutting them leaves them looking for a another job.

    Good Luck, Captain Rob


  2. #2
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Aug 2007


    On the same hand, many potential retirees may decide not to hang up the hat this year because of the economic instability. Some may feel more comfortable staying around another year, bumping up their percentages and having the oppurtunity to work overtime.

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    May 2007


    why don't you man up and pay for advertising, instead of doing it here?

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