I think being a person of faith helps tremendously in this job. In my experience it helps people dig a little deeper when they need to. We see a lot of things nobody wants to see. We go into very emotional, sad situations on calls on a daily basis. My department has lost more on duty and recently retired people in the last few years than a department five times our size should. But through it all you need to find a way to deal with it and still be a good parent and spouse.
Also being of faith seems to give most people a moral compass, a code of honor that keeps us out of trouble, and helps them in decision making. Firefighters have the time, money, and ability to get into a lot of trouble. The girls all know how hot we are.
But where it doesnít help is in your interview. I have had a lot of people that wanted to share their faith in their interviews. Make no mistake, it does not belong there. I asked one guy tell me about himself. He started with, ďHi Iím bill and the most important thing about me is my faith in Jesus ChristĒ. Now I believed him, but it could doom an interview to present yourself like that. The fact that he is a man of faith will help him in other parts of the interview. Just about every person I have worked with that has a strong belief system, comes with lots of volunteer work, a clean record, and a true wish to be a good person.
I have had two guys tell me that they wanted to be firefighters because their momís were nuns. They wanted to share how their mothers example had encouraged them. Go figure that one out.
Last year I coached at least 15 people that were Mormon, most of them wanted to talk at length about their bike riding mission trip when they turned 18. I told them I didnít think it was a good idea, but that the volunteer work they had done would help a lot. One of them said that almost half of the department he was testing for was LDS. My comment was that you may have a person on your panel that has had a bad experience. If the LDS presence in the department is that strong he may have a B/C, Captain, and firefighter that are Mormon and he doesnít want to hear from another one. It isnít going to get you a job, not even a point, and could cause you problems, so why bring it up?
I had another guy a few years ago that used his home phone as his main number. The problem was that his father had a ďFire and Brimstone, you are all sinners and going to hell if you donít get on your knees right nowĒ message on the recorder that went for more than five minutes before you could leave a message. Imagine if a background investigator, chief or the psychologist called to set up a meeting and heard that, it could be a problem.
Please donít get me wrong, I donít want anyone to feel they have to hide their faith, but it isnít something we are looking to discuss in you interview; you should have lots of other stuff to fill your interview with. Most departments have a policy against discussing politics and religion in the fire stations, for good reason. It would be the same as telling the panel if you were a Democrat or Republican, it is something that is important to you, but should be kept to yourself in your interview.
Good Luck, Captain Rob
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04-22-2009, 07:28 PM #1
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- Oct 2003
- north of San Francisco
Faith and the Aspiring Firefighter
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