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  1. #1
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    Default Austin, Tx hiring wave, is it worth my time?

    The Austin Fire Department is going to be accepting applications very soon. I am currently enrolled at Austin Community College to become a certified Paramedic, I still have roughly 2 years left of schooling. Considering this and my poor physical condition at the moment, is it worth the experience of trying out to at least learn what to expect for when the time comes I want to apply for real? I am worried doing this could only discourage me.


  2. #2
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    Default Life is Timing

    Is your goal to become a firefighter?

    Why not? You're there. It would take some time for the written and then the agility. If you passed the written you could be ready for the agility. Getting in shape will help you feel better about yourself and life in general. If you made the list you might get picked up down the line somewhere.

    "Shoot for the moon. If you miss, you'll end up among the stars!"--Les Brown

    Captain Bob

    www.eatstress.com

  3. #3
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    Thanks for responding Capt. Bob! I haven't had much luck in the past with getting quality feedback.

    Yes, the intent of my life is to serve as a fire fighter. Everyday I am anxious to get out of my current job of two years as a bookkeeper and into a turnout coat. Quite a differant change of lifestyle I think. I have read a lot of preparation books to feed my never ending obsession of wanting to learn more about this profession.

    For a while I was reading The Learning Express study guide until I came across Barrons Firefighter Exam book and switched over to that one. In addition I have read books such as Smoke Your Firefighter Interview, Report from Engine Company 82, and currenty Working Fire: The Making of an Accidental Fireman. I have heard very positive reviews about your book and I have forever intended to purchase it. Each time it was either going through a bad month or it was out of stock on Amazon.

    My biggest influence is my big brother. Throughout his life he was a volunteer firefighter in Woodbridge, Va, EMS Driver, and currently stationed in Okinawa, Japan where he is Staff Sgt. for the Marine Crash Crew at a base I can't remember.

    He told me that while every city is differant, you cannot go wrong with a Paramedic certification. He said this would more than likely put me to the top of the list, given that I do well in the other aspects of the qualification process.

    I still have two or maybe three years of school left to get this certification since I can only afford six hours a semester. On top of that my brother stresses the importance in a four year degree unless I want to be a hose humper for the rest of my career. He suggested a degree in Public Administration would be a great help to me in the future.

    So if you consider that I am looking at at least seven years of schooling! The thought of seven more years of my current job is disheartening, which is why I am thinking of trying out for the AFD regardless of my lack of knowledge and poor physical condition.

    I really want to contact the AFD in person, ask a few questions, and suggest a ride a long so I can get the feel. But I have recieved so much mixed feedback on how to approach this it discourages me. It's like theres this weird taboo among firefighters that you have to do things a certain way.

    For example:

    My brother says it's more than okay to walk in during a reasonable hour with some kind of desert in hand, and firefighters would be more than willing to listen to me, maybe if offer a ride along.

    On the other hand, a friend of mine that is an EMT suggests doing that would only irritate the firefighters because their department is also their home; and no one likes unannounced guests.

    See what I am talking about? Both sides sound right to me.

    The bottom line is should I do both things at once? i.e. study in school and train for the AFD at the same time?
    Last edited by myessem; 02-06-2005 at 02:27 PM.

  4. #4
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    Default Lotís to cover here

    Whatís the time line? Becoming a medic will be one of the most difficult things you will ever do. Seven years can become overwhelming. If you decide to begin college and want to get your BA, it will take you 4 maybe 5 years depending on when you can line up all and complete all your classes and requirements. So around 7 years give or take to get in position to go after the badge. Are you going to need student loans? Do you have a special person in your life who is going to wait while you pursuit your career? How long can you tread water?

    Now if I read what you wrote correctly, your main goal in life is to become a firefighter.

    Ask yourself who is getting the badges? The vast majority of candidates we see get hired do not have advanced degrees. They're more in the line of EMT, FF1 academy, working on or have an AA or AS degree or medics. Some have no fire education or experience. Their biggest asset was they leaned how to take an interview.

    Your brother is right about becoming a medic will shorten your distance to a badge if you like the medic aspect of the job. If you donít it can drag you down. I sence you might already be having doubts? Or, is it just the behind the desk stuff? I suggest you increase you hours to see if this is going to be for you?

    We do see candidates on a regular basis who went to B.S./BA route with unrelated degrees and have trouble getting hired. Yea, maybe if you got to the chiefs oral it could be a factor, but you have to get through that snoot nose rookie entrance level oral first.

    This has been covered in a previous posting here:

    http://cms.firehouse.com/forums2/sho...ur+year+degree

    I agree with you friend to not just show up at a station for a visit. Station visits have been covered in this previous posting:

    http://cms.firehouse.com/forums2/sho...station+visits

    Each time it was either going through a bad month or it was out of stock on Amazon.
    You can find out more about the book and read some sample chapters here: http://eatstress.com/firefighterbook.htm

    Everyone has an opinion, there is more than one road to a badge and there are no guarantees in life which-ever path you take. This might help:

    Two friends, Dave and Scott were volunteers in their city. Dave had been convinced that he needed to get a degree in order to be hired. Scott told him to stay, become a medic and they would get on. Dave went off for six years, got his BA degree in business and still couldnít get hired. Scott became a medic and was hired by his volunteer department. He now has 6 years seniority, made more than $100,000 each year with OT ($140,000 last year---thatís real money) enjoys the good life, has more toys than you could imagine and has traveled everywhere.

    Guess what? Dave finally figured out he needed to become a medic (yes, he enjoys the medic side) to get hired. He just got hired. Where you ask? The department he was a volunteer for 6 years ago. But he had to figure something else out first.

    Daveís dad is one of the guys I work out with at the gym with. Dave had been trying to get a fire job. He has all the usual credentials. Firefighter 1, BA degree, 3 seasons with CDF, rode ambulance, became a medic yada, yada, yada.

    He has been testing for over 6 years. His dad gave him a coaching session just prior to his oral for his dream department. Dave had been practicing with a tape recorder. During the coaching session, Dave expressed his burning desire, passion, ďmy life won't be complete until I get a badgeĒ compassionate longing, agonizing story.

    One problem. Dave sucked big time! Even after testing for 6 years, he wasn't ready for any oral board. His answers were garbage. This should be no surprise, because most candidates are not ready either. Coaching usually takes about an hour. We ended at 2 hours. His closing was a dog and pony show (I wished this candidate would just end and get out of the room) pathetic mess.

    I asked Dave how he expected to get a badge when he hadn't spent the time to get ready for an oral. He said, like most candidates, (a big clue here), he thought he was. This is what most candidates think. Does this sound like you? Captain Bill Long is an oral board rater. He said you knew which candidates were really prepared. Those prepared candidates caused you to straighten up in your chair.

    The important point to realize is it doesn't take much to improve your situation and separate yourself from the clone candidates. Dave only had a couple of days to review his coaching tape and redial his approach.

    He called me the day after his interview. He sounded like he didn't step on any land mines, wasn't stumped and was able to put it together to make a real good presentation.

    A few days later, there was a message on my recorder. A guy was yelling, Captain Bob, you are the man. It was Dave. He had just received the call that he was going to the Chiefís Oral. His first in the six years he had been testing. Not only was he going to the Chiefís Oral. He was number . . . 2! They were interviewing 30 candidates for 5 jobs. How do you like those odds?

    When you are going for all the marbles, you want to make sure youíre riding the winning pony!

    As my son Rob says, ďThere's an oral board in your future, you just donít know when.Ē Do you want to be telling yourself ĎI suckí coming out of your next oral and you will do better next time. Or, have that feeling that you knew ĎI smoked ití and it was going to get you that badge?Ē

    Dave got the job. His dad pinned his badge at graduation. Lots of tears.

    The proof is in the badge.

    We report. You decide.

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

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

    www.eatstress.com

    888-238-3959
    Each time it was either going through a bad month or it was out of stock on Amazon.
    Last edited by CaptBob; 02-06-2005 at 05:27 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default

    I sincerely forgot about the search button for those two topics. Whoops.

    So if I read correctly, the point I think you're making is aside from the basics, studying for the oral exam is very important?

    So in my particular sitation (potentially looking at seven years of school), should I go for my BA now, get my EMT-B then go for the AFD and earn my Paramedic later?

    Thanks a lot for your input thus far, I am very impressed by the amount of thought you put into each thread such as mine about people thinking of pursuing this career.

  6. #6
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    Default Challenges

    Everyone has an opinion, there is more than one road to a badge and there are no guarantees in life which ever path you take.

    How often does Austin test? Every year? Every two years or more?

    Consider taking the Austin test just for ducks and to get your feet wet. Check out www.fireprep.com to get ready for the written. They have the road map for the Austin test.

    Since you already have an interest in the medic side and are taking classes, put that on the front burner to gain your EMT and go on to obtain your medic cert. It could be the closest distance between you an a badge.

    I would be happy to talk to you if you have any questions.

    Captain Bob

    www.eatstress.com

    888-238-3959

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    Default

    Capt. Bob,

    After a few days of careful consideration I am going to attempt fate. Strange as it sounds I am far more worried about the physical test than the written and oral exam! At a remarkable 130 pounds and 5' 8" I am beginning to worry about my ability to perform in the physical test, considering I make it that far. AFD doesn't plan to begin the physical testing until the end of May beginning of June. Is there a safe, healthy plan to get up to par? My questions could be in this very forum but unless I don't hear from you I'll read every page of your book that I ordered off Amazon about five minutes ago.

  8. #8
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    Default Size???

    Hope is the Anchor to the Soul

    Don't miss the last sentence!

    Rick had been testing for a while without much luck. Then, a
    firefighter took him aside and directed him to our web site. He
    immediately saw why he wasnít succeeding.

    Rick started testing with his big city dream department 19 months ago
    with 4500 other candidates. Things finally made it to the chiefs oral.

    He had all his ducks in a row. He heard after his oral that one of the panel members said if all the candidates today could be like Rick, weíre going to have a great day. The job offer came conditional on the medical and psych.

    The results for the final psych test were due out the following Monday and calls would be made. Monday came and went. Just hold tight and donít panic. When he finally called he found out the HR gal had gone on a weeks vacation and the envelope was sitting on her desk. Several days passed after her return. Nothing. Everything imaginable went through Rickís head. Rick and his wife experienced every symptom of stress.

    Out of the blue on the Thursday before Christmas the phone rings. He
    got the call! All fears disappeared followed by screams and shouting.

    Rick was number one by a bunch of points.

    Rick is five foot two inches and weighs 118 pounds! Academy started Jan 30th.

    Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

    The proof is in the badge.

    Fire "Captain Bob"

    www.eatstress.com
    Last edited by CaptBob; 02-18-2005 at 11:24 PM.

  9. #9
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    Default

    Originally posted by myessem
    AFD doesn't plan to begin the physical testing until the end of May beginning of June. Is there a safe, healthy plan to get up to par?
    Hi myessem,
    I don't have detailed workout plan, but I can tell you some of the things I did. I'm no Adonis myself and I passed it pretty easily after training for a while, so don't worry about not being big. I tip the scales at a whopping 152 lbs. I joined a gym in Round Rock because they have the identical stair machines that are used in the CPAT. I bet several other gyms in the Austin area have them too. Getting some time on those machines really helped me be comfortable when the real test came around. Start out slow and increase your intensity gradually. I started out just doing the stairs with no weight. After I got in better shape, I started carrying weights for 2 minutes, then putting them down for 2 minutes, picking them up again for 2 minutes, etc, until I had gone for a total of 20-30 minutes. If you can't do it with much weight in the beginning, don't worry. Just work your way up gradually. Your body will adapt pretty quickly if you workout 4 days a week. I'm sure there are better workout plans out there, but this worked for me. Hope this helps.

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    rhorton: thanks for the advice for the physical prep. Being a poor college student I can't afford joining a gym. I went to Full Court Fitness on 620 (I think it's called) and they wanted me to fork over $100 a month for a basic membership! So right now I am resorting to "home-made" methods of weight training like a backpack full of sand, etc.

    As for the AFD hiring process: I passed the written exam! Next up is the BPAD testing. I am scouring Google right now trying to find free preparation guides, so far nothing but I'll keep looking. From what I have read in Capt. Bob's book the goal is to be clear and concise. I'll hit up the search button for information but if anyone wants to re-share their personal experiences on the BPAD, feel free to do so.

  11. #11
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    Default

    The Austin testing process is a golden opportunity to become a firefighter for one of the most sought after fire departments.

    Your ranking on the Austin exam will be determined by how well you do on the oral exam. This means 100% of your score to be hired will be in your Oral Board Score! In the Austin test if you pass the written you will be invited to a CPAT, a b-pad an then an oral board.

    If you haven't taken your CPAT, check out these tips
    http://www.eatstress.com/cpat.htm

    In order to make it to the oral, you have to make it through the B-pad:

    B-Pad

    In B-Pad, you will be presented with a video that shows many situations. You will be recorded by another video to view how you respond. At the end of each situation, you will be given an opportunity to pick one of several answers or tell what you would do.

    B-pad is designed to see how you would react in certain situations if you were a firefighter. If you already had your answers in place, you would get high scores for an oral board, members of a city council hiring committee, B-Pad or any other interview. The problem is most candidates donít have their script down to audition for the job of a firefighter.

    We teach candidates to prepare like an actor does for a part in a play. Once they are in the part you only see their personal script on becoming a firefighter. This works especially well in the B-Pad where you would want to act as if you were already a firefighter. Nothing short of this will do. Itís show time.

    The key in B-pad is to listen and identify the issue, catching more than one issue, deciding the correct thing to do and using the total time you are given to answer each segment.
    You can find out more on this process on the Internet by using the key search word: B-Pad or go to www.bpad.com

    Here are four sample scenarios used in B-Pad:
    Comforting a trapped child
    Aiding an elderly or ill citizen
    Responding to conflicting orders
    Confronting a coworkerís substance abuse

    B-Pad candidate testimony:

    My advice to B-Pad candidates is to remain calm and relaxed through the process. They will give you 45 seconds-1 minute to answer. Try to use all the time to answer. If you feel that you answered to the best of your ability and you have extra time, sit there and do not fidget or move around.

    Sit still and wait for that scenario to end. Part of the evaluation is watching how you react after you answer. I think I had 8 scenarioís that I had to provide answers for. To be honest, they are all common sense. Donít make more out of it than it is. Above all . . . remain CALM and COLLECTED. After all, if you canít do that in front of the camera, how are you going to do it on real calls? Good Luck!!

    If you want to stay ahead of the curve on the Austin hiring process, go here http://www.eatstress.com/austin.htm

    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

    www.eatstress.com

    888-238-3959

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    Default

    You don't need a fancy gym membership. Just a good pair of running shoes. Run and run and run. Run to the parking structure, run the stairs, and run home. Do lots and lots of pushups. You'll find most physical agility test require far more endurance than strength. I've seen plenty of big guys with huge arms fail agility tests because they ran out of steam halfway through, and I've seen scrawny guys tear it up.

    You can always get your medic and BA after you've got your badge. Don't wait, take every test you can.

  13. #13
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    Default

    Here is a great CPAT prep guide:

    http://www.parkerfire.org/documents/cpatprepguide.pdf

    I even have friends who aren't doing anything towards a fire career, that use this now just for physical fitness.

  14. #14
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    Austin is a great department. Don't worry about the paramedic cert rightnow if getting hired with Austin is your ultimate goal. With Austin Travis county EMS the fire department is not worried so much with the EMS side of things. On the other hand ATCEMS is in my mind one of the best EMS systems in the country. I was given the task of working on refurbishing our EMS protocols at my department and I used a lot of the ATCEMS protocols. If you want to fight fire go for AFD. If you are interested in Rescue, high angle, swift water, or any other, ATCEMS is responsible for several counties of rescue with the use of their helicopters. And if it's just a badge you want they both have them. Decide which one is more interesting to you being a special operations medic or a firefighter. Luckily you live in a place that is very progressive in their thinking. A third city service EMS model is a great opportunity if being a medic interests you, also AFD is a very well respected fire department. Basically you can't go wrong with either one as long as your heart leads the way.



    C.B. Young
    L4182

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    I can't believe I have made it this far!

    I recently had my oral board interview and overall I felt it went pretty well. However I can never be sure of what the panel members were really thinking. I recieved my score for the interview and it was a 104.67 out of a possible 120 points. I asked the man that later issued my score if that was considered acceptable and he was unsure. Anyone out there with AFD experience know the answer to this?

  16. #16
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    Default Austin Results

    Here are some e-mails from a couple of Austin candidates:

    Well I never thought I would be writing this to you Captain Bob, it happen to me also. Just like all those successful stories you have posted, well I am another proof that your nuggets work. I just went yesterday to the Austin Oral Board Interview and I did amazing. Out of a possible 120pts. I score 119.87pts., I couldnít believe it. I went in there and it was Show Time. I personalize my answers. Even one of the panel members went outside to tell me I did really well and shook my hand. And another firefighter he said that my score was the highest he had seen. Just Wanted to say THANK YOU! Scott

    Hi Captain Bob, I just returned from my oral board. I scored a 112 out of 120 on the oral and a 30.6 out of 32 on the b-pad. Hopefully this will be strong enough to get me a spot. Thanks for your help. Jeff

    myessem mentioned about not being able to tell what the panel members are thinking? This might help:

    Psyching Yourself Out?

    Many candidates are thrown in their oral boards because they canít tell or get feed back from the interview panel members on how they are doing.

    You canít know what the panel is thinking. Once you start trying, you will tank your oral board score. Just give your best performance no matter what you think the oral board is doing. Trying to interpret the expressions, attitudes of the panel, what they are writing, etc., is mental masturbation. I had several candidates contact me after their orals where I was on their panel. They would tell me what they thought I was thinking or doing. They were never right.

    Here is an example. We went to a matinee play in San Francisco. There was a fraction of the audience this theater could accommodate. You would have never known it by what took place on stage. During intermission I spotted two of the lead actors. I told them although the audience was sparse the cast wasnít. The energy and enthusiasm were fantastic, as if they were playing to a packed house. These were professionals. They thanked me for noticing.

    Consider doing the same thing going into your oral boards. The door opens and they call you in. The curtain is going up, itís the bright lights of Broadway. Itís show time. You have to grab your top hat, cane and know matter what the audience (panel members) you have to give it your best shot and step it OUT!

    Not floundering trying to remember the lines for your part. Being embarrassed by stage fright that causes you to forget your best stuff, as your mouth goes dryer than the Sahara Desert.

    Visualizing the tones are dropping and yo're going on your first call. Everything you have worked for is on the line. Youíre auditioning for the part to be a firefighter. You have practiced and rehearsed for this part havenít you? You know all the lines for your part donít you?

    The raters pick up on your energy and enthusiasm as we did at the play and theyíre saying in their minds, bravo, bravo, we have been waiting for this all week. Theyíre starting to smile. Throwing you lines that you adlib to enhance your performance. Nothing has stumped you. You know youíre going to make the cut for the call back. You have never had an interview like this. The hairs start standing up on the back of your neck and the raters too. You walk off stage knowing you nailed it!

    Havenít had this feeling in your oral boards yet? Well, do you have a script that you have been religiously practicing with a tape recorder? It doesnít surprise me. Ninety-nine percent of the candidates I ask arenít either. I asked a college program recently how many had been practicing with a tape recorder daily? No hands. How about weekly then? Nope. None. O.K. how about monthly? Finally three hands went up out of a total of 40. Then, donít be confused by why youíre not getting high enough on the list to get a call back to play the part of a firefighter. The mystery has been solved.

    You might not have the oral board skills (the oral is still 100% of the score to get hired) to convince the producers (raters) you have what is takes. You see getting this part as a firefighter you have to convince the raters you can do it before you get it.

    For a look at the script to audition for the job of a firefighter job check here: http://www.eatstress.com/workboolette.htm

    You can now listen to more here: http://eatstress.com/mp3entryintro.htm

    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,
    Conquer Fire Department Oral Boards, and
    Itís Your Turn in the Hot Seat!

    www.eatstress.com

    888-238-3959
    Last edited by CaptBob; 06-11-2005 at 01:49 PM.

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