captain bob,
hello captain bob i am a user of your entry level program. I am starting the LAFD drill tower next week. Is there anything you can tell me about their drill tower and any advice you can give me on being successfull in it? Thanks again for all your help Captain Bob, Dennis

Fire Academy

The purpose of this article is to keep you from repeating the errors others have made keeping them from gaining a badge.

Just because you passed the physical agility doesnít mean you are ready for the fire academy. Whether you agree or not, the physical agility has been watered down to be politically correct. Departments know this. So, the training division is going to put you through the wringer to make sure you can do the job before you go on line.

Showing up at the academy is not the time to start getting ready. You need to be in shape and hit the ground running. I often get calls from candidates asking what do I do now? They have been let go in the academy. Itís tough enough getting a job. Keeping it can be a challenge. If you are let go by one department, it is going to be difficult if not impossible to get another department to take a chance on you.

ďThe worst mistake is to have the best latter at the wrong wall.Ē Dick Chaney VP USA

Itís not just the physical part. You have to pass every segment of the academy including the final test to demonstrate you can function in the field. Itís not uncommon to have a group of candidates let go in the final two weeks of the academy, because they canít master latter throws, repel or operate the equipment.

More than one candidate has been let go because they couldnít start the chain saw, operate the jaws and struggled on the drill ground in the final test.
Nothing will **** of the training staff more than you telling them a better way to do something. How you did it in your FF1 academy, reserve or other department. The only task you need to focus on is how they do it in this department. Training divisions are their own kingdoms. This is not a democracy! You have no time or opinion.

It can be devastating being let go, especially if you have already been through a college fire academy. You have been dropped as your classmates are getting dressed up in their class A uniforms (about the only time you will ever wear it, except for funerals) heading for their badge ceremony.

It will start with instructors from the academy taking you aside and pointing out the problems you might be having. If you donít improve, they will meet with you again with other members of the training staff and document the meeting. The writing is on the wall if things donít improve. Candidates that get to this point start to panic. This can affect their other skills. Things they already know and have mastered become difficult.

Instead of dropping back and taking a different mindset, they start to panic and withdraw. Too many candidates in this situation would rather go below and fall on their sworn before they will ask for help. This is the time to ask for help, extra training, and check in with those who have gone before them. I usually get the call after they have they had taken the option to resign instead of being fired. My first question is why didnít you call me earlier? Well, I didnít think it was that bad.

Here are some of the incidents where candidates were let go:

A candidate shows up at an academy over weight even though he knows they will run 3 miles a day canít. Result. They run him into the ground the first week.
Another candidate is given an order to get a screwdriver from the toolbox. After several minutes at the toolbox, he admits he doesnít know what a screw driver is. Hard to believe. Oh, I forgot, they have dropped the mechanical aptitude from the written and added in psych questions. Result: No mechanical ability caused this candidate a badge.

Even though this candidate had been through two academies, he starts having trouble with latter throws. He has done this successfully 100ís of times. But, now he starts doing a mind screw on himself. It gets worse. He is counseled. Then again. Result: Booted from the academy. The good news is we worked with this candidate, regrouped, he got in better shape, worked out a reasonably explanation accepting the blame why it happened and would never happen again. He was picked up by another agency and is wearing a badge.

Another recruit knew he had to lose weight for the academy. He did not reach his goal. His weight caught up with him trying to hump hose up the tower with a SCBA. Result: Got his marching orders because he didnít have the wind to complete this tough academy. Good news again. Regrouped, lost the weight and convinced a department with an easier academy he would be an asset.

Trying to come back and rejoin this candidateís academy too early after a drill tower accident only made the injury worse. When the recruit could not keep up and refused to accept the opportunity to go through the next academy was let go. Another one of those, why didnít you call me first beauties. Even a lawsuit did not regain a chance at a badge.
A candidate did call me when he was having problems repelling off the tower. He would get upside down just before the net. A little mind drill exercise corrected the problem.

I hope you understand my passion is to see you gain a badge. The proof is in the badge. The following is from the most recent badge number 2,041 in our program:

Captain Bob,

I spoke with you right around a year ago inquiring about your program.

After you asked me some questions, I did go ahead and buy entry-level program. I got hired with the city I was interviewing with at the time and am almost done with my probationary year. Thanks for your help and sincerity. Matt

This from Ricardo:

I have been recently offered a position for a major department. I had purchased your program and cherish it. I took your advice on the tape/video, contacted the department for insight on the position, wrote my "script", had my business attire prepared and practiced, practiced, practiced. Was the nominal purchase price you charged worth the future career I have in front of me? DEFINITELY, POSITIVELY and ABSOLUTELY yes!! It took me seven years to obtain a fire position with many sacrifices, but worth the wait.

Thank you for your help.

Respectfully submitted, Ricardo

P.S. I can't stop from feeling giddy.


That giddy feeling is what you start feeling when you know you are finally getting a badge. Many never lose the feeling. I havenít.

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Absolutely nothing counts 'til you have the badge. Nothing!


Fire "Captain Bob"