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Thread: Austin Fire Exam, May 23rd 2012

  1. #676
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    Quote Originally Posted by MasterSplinter View Post
    Btw, thanks for the lesson in probability...
    Hmm. I don't understand the hostility and bullying.

    Look at it as this way- If we were in the academy together, and you weren't comprehending how the panel on an engine works or a ladder drill, or a search and rescue drill or maybe a make and break drill-If I were to break it down for you the way I did on here about the testing process, I do no feel I would be met with such hostility. I feel I would be met with someone who would appreciate the time and effort I took to explain whatever it was they needed clarification on or was not understanding. I feel like this is me being judged on something that some are misconstruing. If this were real life, and we were in the academy together, I would be doing the exact same thing because I'd have your back. I have done this during fire academies and not once have I been called arrogant. A lifesaver maybe, but not arrogant. As far as typos and spelling goes, one simply needs to refer to my other posts if they are doubting my credibility.

    Again, I digress. AND again, I wish all luck.
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  2. #677
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    I think the fact that we all know that this process has a high possibility of being canned is getting under the skin lol

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    Stacefive one of the issues I see is that you are insinuating that females are smarter than males. I basing it off your statement that more female will be ranked higher than male because more females showed up. What does more females showing up have to do with anything? You are only basing it on the fact that they were there. I took offense to that and I'm sure some of the other guys did too. We don't know how we are going to be ranked and for you to state a female is going to be ranked higher than me because she was there is insulting. I'm not saying its not possible that females won't be ranked high, anything is possible. I just need more information besides they are going to be high on the list because they were there.

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    That's the way I took, now if that's what you meant is a different story.

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    Any guess on how much longer it will be before we get our scores back?.... I hope its no longer than mid august

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    Quote Originally Posted by Recio30 View Post
    Any guess on how much longer it will be before we get our scores back?.... I hope its no longer than mid august
    They're starting CPAT stuff in mid-August, so presumably before that. The sheet said our interviews would be scored this week and orientations would begin mid-August, so I'm hoping that means initial ranks come out next week sometime.
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    Hey guys, another lurker in the shadows, been reading and not posting.

    I don't have access to stuff beyong the AAS paywall, but there's a stub of an article from this morning that got a strong rebuttal from AFA President Nicks, probably of interest to all on this thread:

    http://www.statesman.com/news/news/l...t-talks/nY4XH/

    Might go grab a paper statesman to check this article out...

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    Okay, read it.

    In summary: Pres. Nicks tried to get the City Mgr. Ott back to the negotiating table, Mgr. Ott shot him down with a (semi-public?) letter, vaguely accusing the AFA of standing in the way of the City improving the hiring process generally, and specifically in the case of feedback from the DOJ.

    Essentially, it sounds like the City wants control of all HR components of the AFD--hiring, pay and raises, etc. The current contract expires in September...which doesn't sound too hot for us...and the position of union president exists because of a provision in that very contract.

    Nicks' position is that they want the hiring process (there's not much mention of the other HR elements) in the hands of a qualified third party, beyond the ability of City politicians/administrators to manipulate for their own purposes.

    I, for one, am gonna stay positive, but this is a pretty discouraging mess.
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    Nicks' rebuttal: http://www.iafflocal975.org/index.cfm?section=1

    The link to the Statesman article is included at the top of the post.

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    maybe first item is start requiring Tx firefighter certification and EMT as a requirement to apply??

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    Quote Originally Posted by fire49 View Post
    maybe first item is start requiring Tx firefighter certification and EMT as a requirement to apply??
    They wouldn't do that. It would make the gap between whites and minorities larger as generally whites have a better opportunity to enroll in those training classes.
    And to clarify what I mean is statistically speaking whites' parents are more willing and able to allow their children to not work for an extended period of time and support them.
    This would discriminate against Austin residents from lower income areas who could not afford to get certified but are smart enough and well qualified to be a fire fighter.

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    If anybody has access to the Statesman, can you post the article for all to read. Thanks.

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    Here's the full article.

    Austin, firefighters at odds over contract talks

    By Ciara O'Rourke and Tony Plohetski - American-Statesman Staff

    Austin’s city manager has rebuffed a request by the Austin Firefighters Association to resume labor contract negotiations that collapsed last week, saying the parties are too divided over how to hire new cadets.

    In a letter Wednesday to association President Bob Nicks, City Manager Marc Ott said the city needs the “unfettered ability” to implement any recommended changes to the hiring process that might result from a federal investigation into whether the Austin Fire Department discriminates against minorities.

    Bargaining broke down July 18 after 120 days of negotiations, with Nicks maintaining the union couldn’t give the city unchecked control over how to hire firefighters. Nicks said he feared the department would weaken standards in trying to add more minorities to its ranks.

    In April, the city received a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division announcing an investigation into whether the Fire Department is engaged in “a pattern or practice of discrimination against Hispanics and African-Americans with respect to employment opportunities in sworn positions” in violation of federal law.

    In his letter to Nicks, Ott said the city is committed to equal opportunities in all of its employment practices, including having a willingness to explore and implement new hiring methodologies aimed at having a qualified and diverse workforce.

    He said it’s “imperative” that the city have the flexibility to change the hiring process as necessary.

    “It is now clear that the association will continue to demand the ability to dictate terms and conditions of the hiring process,” Ott said in the letter. “The city cannot be bound to a restrictive process that does not allow the city to seek and implement the best hiring practices available.”

    Ott’s reply came a day after Nicks asked if the two sides could try to resolve their differences before their current agreement expires in September.

    He said Ott’s response was unfortunate and misleading.

    With no contract in place, city officials said, the department would have to alter how it hires new cadets and promotes existing firefighters, basing the criteria solely on the results of a written exam instead of also using other yardsticks, such as exercises to determine how firefighters would respond in real-work scenarios.

    Firefighter pay would be set as part of the city’s budget process instead of raises being negotiated, and matters such as how overtime is awarded would become solely under the discretion of Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr.

    The union additionally could lose its ability to have a full-time president, a provision of the current contract.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr_Matt View Post
    They wouldn't do that. It would make the gap between whites and minorities larger as generally whites have a better opportunity to enroll in those training classes.
    And to clarify what I mean is statistically speaking whites' parents are more willing and able to allow their children to not work for an extended period of time and support them.
    This would discriminate against Austin residents from lower income areas who could not afford to get certified but are smart enough and well qualified to be a fire fighter.
    Exactly. This is why neighboring departments like Round Rock and Pflugerville and all of the towns around the lake are almost entirely white males.

  15. #690
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    Jr college does not cost that much

    If a person wants a job, than they figure out how to sacrifice to get there

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr_Matt View Post
    They wouldn't do that. It would make the gap between whites and minorities larger as generally whites have a better opportunity to enroll in those training classes.
    And to clarify what I mean is statistically speaking whites' parents are more willing and able to allow their children to not work for an extended period of time and support them.
    This would discriminate against Austin residents from lower income areas who could not afford to get certified but are smart enough and well qualified to be a fire fighter.

    To me it has nothing to do with being a minority. I'm black. It is about having a goal and doing what you have to do to reach that goal. You can have a full time job and take classes. They offer them online and Jr. colleges are not that expensive. I was in the navy for 7 years and still managed to college courses and work 14 to 20 hours shifts. I have been out a year now with a full time job and still managed to get my EMT certification and other cert's. While I don't have my TX FF cert's I will soon. Everyone has the same opportunities, while some may be easier than others, it's up to you to go out and reach your goal not some else. Plus there is financial aid tuition assistance and grants. It's just my honest opinion.
    fire49 and aloysiusjones like this.

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    What I fail to understand is how demographics for the City of Austin even matter in determining what the demographics of the Austin FD should be. Sure, if only Austin residents were eligible to apply then the two sets of statistics might need to more closely resemble one another. However, men and women travel from all over the country to sit for the AFD exam. Shouldn't then the metrics by which the ethnic and gender makeup of AFD be changed to reflect the myriad other factors. (Full Disiclosure: I am a white dude).

    Specifically, if roughly 4000 people apply to AFD, and they hire 120 candidates - every applicant has the same odds of being hired. If more white males apply, it would follow that more white males would be hired by simple probability. If the ratio of male to female applicants is 2:1, it is not unreasonable to expect that the cadet class would also be roughly 2:1 male:female. When the department or the city begins to take into account criteria other than suitability of the applicant under the selected rubric, the probability of being hired shifts, benefitting certain groups of applicants while harming others. If the applicant class is 2:1 male:female and the powers that be determine that the cadet class must be 1:1 male:female ratio then every female applicant has now doubled her chances of being hired, while every male applicant's chances have just been cut in half. Substitute in "white (non-hispanic):hispanc" for "male:female" in the above example if you find a comparison on the basis of gender to be distasteful. I am not saying this has taken place, only given a hypothetical example of why taking into account things like gender, race, or religion creates an inherently unfair process.

    Sure, I think that insular minority groups and females experience bias and discrimination in their every day lives - which is both unfortunate and wrong. However, I also believe that anything other than an entirely merit-based hiring process is wrong. We all know that two wrongs do not equal one right. If you are born female, or black, or chinese, or with exceptional natural athleticism, or the ability to compose music at an extremely young age - you had nothing to do with it. The lottery of birth favors some, and inflicts hardship on others.

    Someone born paralyzed from the waist down most likely cannot be a firefighter for AFD. That really sucks, and it seems sort of unfair. Yet, that is just the way it is. No one would suggest that someone born with a disability which impairs strength and mobility be given extra points or favorable treatment during the application process because they have had a rough go of it, and did not fair well in the random lottery of birth. Yet this is precisely what AFD seems to be trying to do by mandating certain hiring quotas for people who did nothing more than be born fitting a particular description.

    Can a woman be a firefighter? Absolutely. Can men and women meet the physical demands of a firefighter in equal numbers? Probably not. Should someone get the job that cannot meet the physical demands? No? Should women be precluded from applying to the job? Absolutely not. Should women receive equal treatment during the application process, for better or worse? Absolutely.

    The same goes for people born into poverty, people born with learning disabilities, people born into families wtih little or no support network, people raised by alcoholics, etc. The process should be open, and transparent. The requirements which must be met to be considered for hire should be set, and publicized. Everyone should get a fair shot. But no one should get any procedural advantage by virtue of something attributable only to their ancestry and chromosomal makeup.

    If I am in a burning house and a firefighter comes in to rescue me, I wouldn't stop to inquire about the firefighters sexual-orientation or gender-identity or race or religion or any other superfluous factor before allowing myself to be pulled from a burning building. I wouldn't care. Conversely, if the local FD hired an unqualified idiot because they needed to fill their quota of X race or Y gender which resulted in needless destruction, injury, or death, I would be greatly upset. I hope AFD gets it right. If I didn't make the cut because I am not good enough, then I have no complaints about the process. However, if I or anyone else fail to qualify because certain people were afforded an unfair advantage, that is some major bull****.
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    Remember if your parents income falls about middle class and above your qualification for financial aid aka "free money" for school is cut. Some think having well off parents gives you an unfair advantage to attend school, it does not. All those of us with poorer parents , me included, get a generous amount of financial aid just to get an education. I am considered of ethnic background and come from the poor side of the tracks but have had all the opportunity in the world to attend school, and have. Its about your motivation to succeed not your background.

    Semper Fi
    Z
    Last edited by MrInternational; 07-26-2013 at 03:30 PM.

  19. #694
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    Right on man.
    Last edited by aloysiusjones; 07-26-2013 at 03:41 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Breezway83 View Post
    To me it has nothing to do with being a minority. I'm black. It is about having a goal and doing what you have to do to reach that goal. You can have a full time job and take classes. They offer them online and Jr. colleges are not that expensive. I was in the navy for 7 years and still managed to college courses and work 14 to 20 hours shifts. I have been out a year now with a full time job and still managed to get my EMT certification and other cert's. While I don't have my TX FF cert's I will soon. Everyone has the same opportunities, while some may be easier than others, it's up to you to go out and reach your goal not some else. Plus there is financial aid tuition assistance and grants. It's just my honest opinion.
    Truth. The other problem that arises when race and gender are taken into account is that people perceive someone of color or someone female to be the recipient of preferential treatment even when they were not. Take the example of a black female promoted to Captain. She could be supremely well qualified, and the best possible applicant for the position. But you know as well as I do that some of the other applicants that didnt get a promotion are going to holler affirmative action bullsh*t, even though they were less qualified. Why cheapen anyones' accomplishments by even allowing the possibility that race or gender played a role in them?

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    Quote Originally Posted by aloysiusjones View Post
    Yet this is precisely what AFD seems to be trying to do by mandating certain hiring quotas for people who did nothing more than be born fitting a particular description.
    To be fair, it's the city trying to do this. From what I can tell, AFD is trying for a fully merit-based application system with a concerted effort to recruit much more diversely. It's like what STACEFIVE was saying - if there are more apples in the barrel of oranges, there will be more of a chance to pull an apple out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by STACEFIVE View Post
    Hmm. I don't understand the hostility and bullying.

    Look at it as this way- If we were in the academy together, and you weren't comprehending how the panel on an engine works or a ladder drill, or a search and rescue drill or maybe a make and break drill-If I were to break it down for you the way I did on here about the testing process, I do no feel I would be met with such hostility. I feel I would be met with someone who would appreciate the time and effort I took to explain whatever it was they needed clarification on or was not understanding. I feel like this is me being judged on something that some are misconstruing. If this were real life, and we were in the academy together, I would be doing the exact same thing because I'd have your back. I have done this during fire academies and not once have I been called arrogant. A lifesaver maybe, but not arrogant. As far as typos and spelling goes, one simply needs to refer to my other posts if they are doubting my credibility.

    Again, I digress. AND again, I wish all luck.
    The forum sure was quick to be pretty terrible to you. I understood what you were getting at by saying they "gave" us the answers before the SOI. I just wish they told us it was ok to take notes during the little video talk.

    I can't speak for the forum, but I think its was rad to see so many women applying for the job. Best of luck to you too, and to everyone that took the application process seriously and have been busting their A** to get in shape for the CPAT. My feeling is if you're qualified, then you should get hired. I don't care if its a man or woman, black or white, short or tall, skinny or fat - I just want the person that would potentially be backing me up to have the brains and the physicality for the job. Good luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aliciaaaaah View Post
    To be fair, it's the city trying to do this. From what I can tell, AFD is trying for a fully merit-based application system with a concerted effort to recruit much more diversely. It's like what STACEFIVE was saying - if there are more apples in the barrel of oranges, there will be more of a chance to pull an apple out.
    That is a good point AAAAA. Thank you for clarifying that. AFD seems to be against giving up control. However, it was AFD's process that permitted those with 50% or less on the written exam to advance to the SOIs. Maybe we disagree, but I think basic math, reading comprehension, and mechanical aptitude should be prereqs to being hired on with AFD.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aloysiusjones View Post
    However, it was AFD's process that permitted those with 50% or less on the written exam to advance to the SOIs.
    That was an absolutely terrible decision on their part, but the impression I've gotten from talking with people in the department was that they didn't have a choice in letting fewer people through. Don't know if that came from the city or DOJ, but apparently the original plan was to have a lot fewer people interviewing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by aliciaaaaah View Post
    That was an absolutely terrible decision on their part, but the impression I've gotten from talking with people in the department was that they didn't have a choice in letting fewer people through. Don't know if that came from the city or DOJ, but apparently the original plan was to have a lot fewer people interviewing.
    So we do agree! It is just another situation where trying to be fair to everybody resulted in unfairness to everybody. How can anyone possibly believe that a candidates temperment and attitude can be properly assessed from a 12 minute video testimonial. I considered walking out just because of how ridiculous the whole thing was. In any event, even if they let everybody through to interview there was no requirement that AFD choose to weight the exam they way that they did. That was all AFD. If AFD is going to weight the interviews so heavily, then they need to be thorough and worthy of such weight. I studied for that test for 8 weeks and it took 6 hours start to finish, yet it was only worth 20%. I prepped for the interviews for maybe 3 days, and the actual interview was 12 minutes in a room with a camera; yet, that counts for 80% of the score?!

    AFD could have weighted the test and interview 50/50. That way more people could have advanced to interviews, but not so many that the process was reduced to a complete farce. But NO CUT? I mean, some dude got a 4 on the exam? What if he/she was exceptionally charismatic, but functionally illiterate? That person could get a gig over someone who aced the exam, but was gun-shy interviewing with a robot.

    The reason so many people advanced to the SOI, and the test is worth only 20% is because AFD came under fire for their hiring AND interviewing practices. AFD figured the best way to beef up their diversity statistics was to just let everyone take a shot at interviewing. But AFD's own assumption that allowing people that essentially failed the test to interview would lead to higher numbers of minorities is just plain racist. I mean look at what AFD is saying with their actions. AFD - If we cut people who perform poorly on the written exam, we may end up with disproporionately low numbers of minority candidates.

    I think that the education system and weath disparity in America is shameful. Census data demonstrates pretty clearly that minorities are more likely to suffer the negative impacts or poverty or lack of formal education, which is also a testament to several inherent failures in the american system. However, these are issues that need to be addressed in schools, with parents, with institutions of higher learning, with financial institutions, and with elected officials. It is neither appropriate nor helpful for the AFD try and put a bandaid on the much deeper issue of socioeconomic, racial, and gender inequality by skewing test results in a way that it (erroneously) believes will be more fair to certain groups - especially when the stakes are so high.

    By all means lets relax the hiring standards for the DMV, city sanitation and maintenence, and parking regulation. However, for people that are going to be RUNNING INTO BUILDINGS THAT ARE ON FIRE TO SAVE PEOPLE, WHILE OPERATING COMPLEX MACHINERY AND TAKING COMPLICATED INSTRUCTIONS REQUIRING THE COORDINATION OF MULITPLE INDIVIDUALS AND TEAMS, lets please make sure that they are supremely qualified to do the job.

    To be a firefighter requires a high degree of mental and physical prowess - two critial sets of criteria that have been all but eliminated from the hiring process in favor of the ability to answer 3 random questions satisfactorily in less than 12 minutes. AFD has just totally screwed this whole thing up, and it is the city and its people that are going to be harmed by incompetant FFs with wonderful speaking voices and perfect hair.
    Last edited by aloysiusjones; 07-26-2013 at 05:47 PM.
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