Thread: Two Questions

  1. #1
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    Jan 2005

    Default Two Questions

    I rescently bombed my final interview with a suburbian fire department. Following my failure I purchased several books concerning the interviewing process and began preparing for my next interview. Through all this, however, I've failed to find what I thought were appropriate rationals for answering the following questions...

    1. You and your partner enter a residential dwelling that is partially involved. Upon entering a bedroom in the rear of the home you find one victim. Just as you begin to make contact with the victim you hear your partner collapse behind you. Who do you save?

    2. Do you believe that civilian fire related deaths are the result of failure on the part of the public or the department?

    Any help would be appriciated.

    Bryn Burgess

  2. #2
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    dmleblanc's Avatar
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    Not the end of the earth but I can see it from here...


    Wow...that's a stumper. One the one hand, I'd say save your partner, for a couple of reasons...First, we're always taught that life safety priorities are yourself first, then your teammates, then the victim. Second, you can reasonably assume your partner is a viable victim...he just collapsed, so barring a massive heart attack or something, he's still alive. Your victim, on the other hand, may or may not be a viable rescue...There's a considerable chance that the occupant is already dead. So the odds are better saving your partner. Third, if your partner passed out due to a malfunction of the SCBA (lack of air), you may save him if you act quickly. Leave him for the victim, he may die with his air supply lost. Lastly, I mean, really, who's gonna leave their partner behind? Not me.

    On the other hand, the main reason I can think of for going for the victim is this: your partner has collapsed but is still in SCBA. So he still has a clean air supply (if it's working)and can survive for a period of time without intervention. Your victim, on the other hand, does NOT have a supply of air and may die very shortly without rescue (assuming he's not dead already....see above). Overall, I think the "rescue the partner" choice takes precedence.

    Of course, maybe the reason the question was asked was to prompt you for option C, which is that you rescue neither one yourself....The moment you realize there is a problem, you call a mayday and activate the RIT or FAST team. That may be the answer they're looking for.

    As for the second question, well, that's also a stumper, but it's more of a question of opinion. I think that, more than a right answer, they want to hear your rationalization for whichever one you believe.

    Hard to say. But I'm sure CaptBob can offer some insight
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream ó and I hope you don't find this too crazy ó is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    ó C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

  3. #3
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    Jan 2003
    New Jersey


    the first one is easy. you save your partner. remember the basics, you are the most important person on a scene, your crew is the second, then come the public. your partner is part of #2, the victum is #3.

    plus, the victum might be dead already, and you don't know how much time has elapsed since he/she stopped breathing. your partner just went down, and now the clock just started ticking. who has the better chance for survival? i think it was a 10% decrease for every minute that passes after the brain stops recieving oxygen. that means your partner has a better chance of survivial, provided you get medical attention to him NOW.

    the second is mor tricky, but I'd have to say the failure comes on the part of the public. you as the department didn't cause the fire. the public did. it was burning before you got there.

    secondly, you take the fire department out of the equation, and the death numbers rise, as there is no one who goes in to rescue the trapped people. or, if you take the public out of the equation, the death numbers fall, because there is no one to cause the fire, and less fatalities result.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!


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    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc, thanks for you confidence and encouragement.

    How are you answering these questions now WannaB?

    If this question is so easy to answer, why do they ask it in this way?

    Most departments have a two in two out policy with a RIC team in place before entry. You can deviate from this policy if you strongly believe the situation requires a rescue. Yes, you can have a radio and call for the RIC team. The panel will probably take that option away from you. So, you give the answer you would bring out your buddy and they come back with how do you explain to the family why you didnít bring out their loved one? If you brought out the citizen, how do you explain why you didnít bring out your buddy?

    This question can place you in a no win situation. It has been drilled into our heads that we take care of our own first. Always. You would be hard pressed to not take your buddy out first. Is this what their looking for? Are you taking the bait? Could they be looking for something else?

    The following candidate faced the same situation:

    Captain Bob, Just recently though I was testing at a department and I got called back for an oral board, and I went in confident. The oral board did not surprise me with any questions and I was well prepared until........ The second to last question they asked me. The question was you are in a fully involved fire and your partner and an infant are both down, they are both right next to you and you can only grab one which one do you grab and why? I remembered your steps to answering a question and I asked the oral board after thinking over it for a moment some questions of my own, but I was still stumped as to the answer I should have given them I was just wondering what they were looking for in this particulars question. Thanks Stan

    Reply: What was your answer first?

    Stan: Well, first I asked if I knew where both of them were located, then I asked if there was anyway possible in all my power to save both of them, then I said I would take the firefighter because if anything goes wrong in a fire with you and your partner you are suppose to get out immediately. Then after that they told me when you get out of the building you see the infants family and what do you say to them. So I said that I would say I was sorry for what happened and explain the situation the best way I was able under the circumstances. Then they told me that next the media approaches me and what do you say to them. So I said that I would given the circumstances of what I had just been through I would have another officer speak to them because now just wasn't a good time.

    Reply: Like most candidates you took the bait on saving your partner. What would
    you do now?

    Stan: Save the infant now, but don't I face the same scenario with my partner's family, as well as the department and the media, from how I am seeing it, it seems like a lose lose situation. The question seems like they want to see how you think and that there is no right answer am I right?

    Reply: You could be missing the whole point here. There is one word from your EMT training that is the key to what you would do?

    Stan: Could it be TRIAGE?

    Reply: Bingo! Now what is your answer?

    As you can see there are more opinions on this one. If you are answering this question with bringing your buddy out first and youíre failing the oral, you might consider a different approach of starting triage first then take the appropriate action. What if you started triage and the panel told you one or the other was breathless and pulse less?

    Question #2

    Itís known that money is best spent on prevention than suppression. Through code enactment, enforcement, and an ongoing public education program fires go down. In many areas EMS has become job security.

    Heating and cooking appliances ignite most residential fires. If citizens are educated in the safety of the home and have working smoke alarms, if a fire does occur, they have early warning to get out, and quick response from the fire department to minimize fire loss.

    You can find more on testing secrets in the Career Article section from the Jobs drop down menu just above this posting.

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

    Fire "Captain Bob" Author, Becoming A Firefighter and
    Conquer Fire Department Oral Boards

    Last edited by CaptBob; 01-26-2005 at 11:27 AM.

  5. #5
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    Silver City, Oklahoma USA


    Hey WannaB, good to see you around. Hope you the best of luck.

    Captain Bob's books and video helped me out, and he makes a good point.

    I like the triage answer. Maybe your partner tripped over the hose or something, and isn't even hurt. Try and get more info and go from there.

    As for question two, here's my take. If the fire department isn't doing its job in public education, then don't blame the public. If the fire department is doing it's job, and the public is ignoring it, then the fire department needs to change its PR model.

    The answer is important, but equally as important, maybe more important, is the way it's delivered. Well-thought out, articulate, all that jazz. Don't forget the delivery part of it.
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

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    1. You and your partner enter a residential dwelling that is partially involved. Upon entering a bedroom in the rear of the home you find one victim. Just as you begin to make contact with the victim you hear your partner collapse behind you. Who do you save?

    This interview is as old as time. It was around 20-years ago when I was testing for the fire department. Fortunately for you, the candidate, there are only so many questions we can ask of you. Once you understand the basic theme you can apply it to many of the questions you will hear.

    First of all it is important to look at the make up of the oral board. There is usually a fire department representative and a member from the community.

    Understanding the culture of the fire department, similar to the military, we never leave our members behind. I can assure you that you will never be hired if you tell a firefighter that you would select a civilian over a firefighter. It simply goes against everything e stand for. I donít care if it is a child or a 99-year old grandmother. We simply do not leave a firefighter behind.

    Now the civilian expects you to pull out the baby. If you choose to pull out the firefighter you will be asked, ďdidnít the firefighter know the risks when he or she accepted the job?Ē Of course we know the inherent risks, but we also know we would never leave a firefighter behind.

    Culturally a firefighter who left a brother or sister firefighter to die in favor of a civilian would never recover from the peer pressure in the firehouse.

    As was mentioned earlier this is a no win situation, right? WrongÖ.. Actually, itís quite simple. Here is how is recommend you field the question:

    I know that the victim has been down for at least 10-minutes because you said my partner and I pulled a hoseline into a house. I know that our response time was at least 3 minutes and we probably secured a hydrant on the way in. By the time we put on our SCBAís and pulled a hoseline it is reasonable to assume the victim has been down at least 10 minutes.

    As an EMT, I know that permanent, irreversible brain damage occurs in as little as 4-6 minutes. I also know that the firefighter has been down for just a few seconds.

    Now it becomes a matter of who has the best chance of survival. Since the firefighter has only been down for a few seconds, his or her chance of survival is dramatically better.

    The firefighter on the panel will agree with your answer for obvious reasons and rate you high. The civilian, while wanting you to pull the baby out will be able to follow your logic and will accept your answer.

    While it is often said there are no right or wrong answers, I guarantee there are definitively things that will cause an automatic failure.

    Do you believe that civilian fire related deaths are the result of failure on the part of the public or the department?

    I believe that the public could drastically reduce the amount of fire deaths by becoming educated in fire prevention and the spread of fire.

    Studies show that the majority of fires start from some type of human cause. Of course the most common are smoking, arson, carelessness and poor electrical wiring.

    Fire is a fact of life in modern society. Fire departments have taken tremendous steps in preventing fire and keeping loss to a minimum. Our rigs are faster and more eficient, firefighters are better educated and trained and most importantly, we are smarter. Even with all of these advancements, without a strong public buy in to our fire prevention programs, we will continue to have tragedies.
    Last edited by FDengine13; 01-26-2005 at 11:38 PM.
    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    Author of Smoke Your Firefighter Interview and The Aspiring Firefighter's 2-year Plan

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