A Relative in the Fire Service?

It's tricky. It's a balancing act. It could hurt you. Too many candidates club the oral board over the head with a dad or other relative who is or has been a firefighter. And as Paul wrote in a previous posting it can come across like you’re asking for extra points. You don’t want to give that impression. But, I also agree with Rich that if the situation and timing is right it can be pulled off with success. As Rich cautioned:

you can make a quick mention to the fact that you come from a fire service family or that you have a family member[s] in the fire service and leave it at that. . . No need to drop names of family member or department, unless asked.

With my son Rob we used it this way: I’ve wanted to be a firefighter most of my life because members of my family have been firefighters. He never said who. If they wanted to know they would ask. They only asked once. That department hired him.

It can be part of a signature story like this one:

When I was 10 years old, my father as a captain on the Boston Fire Department took me to work with him. That afternoon we got a call. We rolled out with a lot of other rigs to an apartment fire. I saw my dad get off the rig, direct people for rescue and extinguish the fire. I knew right then that I would not be satisfied until I achieved my badge. Steve

Who else could tell Steve’s story? No one. He was there. After we worked on this story in private coaching, Steve was able to recreate the excitement, emotion, enthusiasm, and color of the actual event. You were on the rig with Steve; you saw the flames, and hairs on the back of your neck start standing up. Again, firefighters love firefighter stories. We do. If you can tell the oral board a signature story from your life experience that relates to the answer, it can catapult you past the “Clone” candidates.

Steve’s story was a success and he obtained his first badge. Then he was successful in getting on his dad’s old department Boston Fire (Boston does not have orals) where he really wanted to work.

Another recent candidates dad and uncle are firefighters in Mexico. As a seasonal firefighter, he carries pictures of his dad and uncle in his helmet. These were cool pictures of his relatives in front of the rigs in spiked helmets. This was too good to pass up. This candidate took his helmet in a cloth bag with the pictures in it to his chief’s oral. Only if the timing was right would he use them. It was. He told the story of his relatives being in the fire service in Mexico and caring their pictures in his helmet. Then, he asked the panel if they wanted to see the pictures. They sure did. Smiles and admiration were all around.

Did it work? He no sooner got home and the phone rang. It was one of the chief’s from his panel offering him a badge. This candidate had been testing for 7 years! He’s in the last weeks of his academy.

"Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

Fire "Captain Bob"

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