Why register? ...To Enhance Your Experience
+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 21
  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber JLam77's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    162

    Default What makes a successful FF candidate?

    A bit of background. I'm 30 years old, married, with a kid on the way. I have a financially successful career in the television industry, but I have almost zero job satisfaction.

    I grew up in a firefighting family, and planned on becoming a firefighter up until I was about 17, when a career in TV sort of just fell in my lap. I ran with it, and it has been good to me. But I've come to realize that I made a mistake when I was younger and I should have pursued my dream of becoming a firefighter back then.

    Now I'm ready to make a career jump. I've submitted applications to both LA County and City, and they are both pending the results of my CPAT which I take in July. I'm also planning on starting EMT classes in August, and hope to be at least an EMT-B by the end of the month (it's an intensive 4 week course).

    I'm trying to find out other ways I can make myself into an attractive candidate. I have a 4 year degree, I'm pretty adept mechanically (not a master carpenter or anything but I know my way around power tools), I'm going to have my EMT, and I plan on being in the best shape of my life by the end of the summer. I'm also reading books on firefighting techniques as well as watching instructional videos.

    My background is squeaky clean and I'm a pretty intelligent guy who is capable of both taking orders and making decisions on my own if need be. That about sums me up.

    Is there anything else you would recommend me doing in order to prepare for my oral interview should I be lucky enough to get to that point? I want to be the best possible candidate I can be.


  2. #2
    Permanently Removed CALFFBOU's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    CA
    Posts
    6,520

    Default

    Jlam- PM me so we can chat on the phone...Bou

  3. #3

    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    2

    Default sounds familiar

    Same story, except I'm almost 15 years older...

    Would the advice change?

    I've been encouraged by a couple of Chiefs I know to pursue this, but would appreciate some "objective" advice...

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    1,047

    Default

    Two-Year Plan


     If still in high school look into a Regional Occupational Program (ROP).

    Many local fire departments have community outreach recruitment programs.

     Graduate from high school or obtain your GED.

    A diploma is much preferred.

     Talk with a counselor at a community college that offers fire science courses.

    Set up a course curriculum that allows you to obtain a two-year degree in fire science. If the local college does not offer a fire science program, find one that does.

    This curriculum should also allow you to complete the prerequisite courses for a fire academy.

     Take an Emergency Medical Technician Course (EMT).

    This will accomplish a few things. First of all, it is a course required by most departments. It will also let you know if this profession is for you. If you find you can’t handle the sight of blood or helping people during crises, the fire service may not be for you.

     Enroll in a state certified fire academy.

    Many departments require completion of a Firefighter 1 Academy prior to taking the entry-level exam.

    Completion of a fire academy prior to being hired will greatly enhance a candidate’s chance of successfully completing the fire department’s academy. Many fire departments have a 25 – 30% failure rate.


     Find out if your community has either a fire department volunteer program or Fire Explorers.


    Volunteering in the fire department is an excellent way to gain real life experience. This exposure will also allow you to determine if this is indeed the right career choice for you.


     Volunteer in your community.

    Find something that you are interested in and volunteer your time: church, sports, hospital, YMCA, Red Cross, etc. It doesn’t matter. Get involved. Volunteering is something that should be done because it’s the right thing to do, not because it will look good on a firefighter application.


    Firefighters are self-motivated and have historically been involved in their communities. The perception is that if you are helping out in your community now, you will be the type who will likely continue to stay involved after you are hired, helping out in various committees and groups both on and off the job.

     Visit the local fire stations.

    Interview the firefighters and elicit their help in planning your career path. It is a tremendous compliment to the firefighters to have someone aspire to be in their position. Visiting the fire stations will help you learn about the job and the culture of the fire service. In addition, you will learn of things that you could be doing to enhance your chances of getting hired. Ultimately, when the department hires, you will be in a good position since the firefighters have gotten to know you and have taken the time to mentor you. There is nothing better than a “home grown” prospect.

     Prepare for a fire department interview.

    Consider the reasons why you want to become a firefighter and be able to express them. Do your research and learn the rules of the road concerning the interview process. Participate in “mock” interviews with firefighters.

     Start a log that includes everything you have done to prepare yourself.

    Include details, dates, and names of instructors. Include any personal experiences that may be pertinent to becoming a firefighter.
    A few examples of this could be:

    You witnessed a car accident and were able to render aid.

    You volunteered your time at the Boys and Girls club.


    You experienced a life-changing event.

    You were voted most inspirational on your athletic team or your fire academy.

    Your high school athletic team won the championship.

    You were a lifeguard at the city pool.

    Anything that you think might be significant. There are no rules. Write it down!

    This information will go on your resume, or may be speaking points in an interview. This is preparing you to answer difficult questions in an interview, such as, “Please share with the panel a stressful time in your life, and how you dealt with it.”

    The log should just be an easy and accessible memory jogger for you. If you are comfortable with a pencil and notepad, keep them in your room in a convenient spot so you won’t forget to use them. If you are more comfortable on the computer, then use it to formulate your thoughts and ideas.

     Get in shape.

    Firefighting is a very physical job requiring peak physical strength and endurance. If you are not in good physical condition, it will become very evident during the physical agility testing or the pre-hire medical exam. It is also important to look as if you are physically prepared for the job.

    If you see a firefighter who looks out of shape, don’t look at him and think, “If he got hired, so can I!” Odds are he was in better physical condition when he was first hired. You are trying to do everything you can to improve your chances. This is a very important part that you have complete control over!

     Look the part!

    The rule of thumb in an interview is to hire someone who you can see becoming a member or your crew tomorrow. A candidate who walks in with excessive facial hair, large tattoos or body piercing that is not permitted by the department’s policies presents as a candidate who is not ready for the position. Do not make the mistake of saying that you will remove them when you are ready to be hired. You are making a statement. It is important to understand that the fire department is a paramilitary organization. These will definitely not improve your chances of success.

     Dress professionally.
    Invest in a suit and tie. Although not required for the interview, a candidate who does not wear one stands out. First impressions are critical. Make sure the suit is conservative, not flashy.

    Dress professionally whenever you will have contact with members of the department. This includes station visits. Remember, it is important to make a good first impression.

     Enroll in a service that lets you know which departments are testing.

    There are several businesses on the Internet that will inform you of which departments are testing and what their requirements are.

    Most departments test every 2-3 years. They will then hire from the “eligibility list” until it expires. The window to file an application is usually very small, ranging from as short as 1 day to as long as 30 days. Once the filing period is closed, the department will not accept any more applications. If you don’t have a subscription to one these services, you will miss a lot of opportunities.

     Talk to your family.

    The decision to become a firefighter is a monumental one. It will most likely be a long road that requires a lot of time and sacrifice. If you don’t have a family or friend support network, it will become extremely difficult. Most importantly, if your spouse does not support your decision, you are destined for failure.

     Surround yourself with reputable people.

    A firefighter position is a life choice, not just a job. You must be prepared to live your life with excellent moral and ethical values. For this you will need the support of family and friends who are good role models. If your friends are not a positive influence in the community, you may want to find a new set of friends. Remember the old saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.” A background check will scrutinize not only you, but also the company you keep.

     Learn a trade.

    Woodworking, framing, electrical, plumbing, welding and automotive are all common examples of a trade. Firefighting is a very physical job that requires good psychomotor skills and a hands-on approach. Typically those who have learned a trade possess these applicable job skills. If you know how a building is constructed, you will be able to predict how a fire will travel through it. If you know where the electrical and plumbing is typically run behind the drywall, you will most likely know where it would be safe to open it up. You will also have become very comfortable with power tools. The importance of being able to work with your hands cannot be overstated.

    If you don’t currently have this kind of experience, start taking classes in a trade at your community college. You will at least learn the basics. Back this up with some real life practical experience. It will be invaluable knowledge and will play out well in an interview. Mechanical aptitude cannot be learned in an Internet class or while sitting behind a computer.

     Improve your public speaking skills.

    If you are uncomfortable getting up in front of a group, you must take steps to overcome your fear. The largest percentage of the testing process is the interview, and ultimately a large part of the job deals with public speaking! You won’t talk a fire out, but you will talk to different groups about how to prevent them. If you can present yourself well in an interview, you are leaps and bounds ahead of the others who can’t. Even if the other candidates have more experience than you, the job will usually be awarded to the candidate who can present him or herself in a clear and concise manner.

    If public speaking is your downfall, it is imperative to join Toastmasters or take some courses at your community college. A speech and debate class is an excellent way to get over the jitters. Acting or drama classes can also be an excellent way to feel more comfortable in front of a group.

    Teaching others can also help you learn to think on your feet. Whether you are teaching CPR and First Aid or your local Sunday school class, it will help you learn to present information clearly and field questions.

    A typical interview question might be, “What do you consider a weakness about yourself?” Your answer could be, “I used to feel uncomfortable getting up and speaking in front of a group. I knew this was a very important part of my chosen vocation. I took several classes at my community college to help improve my comfort level. Since then I feel much more confident in my ability to speak in public.”

    You can have all of the best traits in the world, but if you can’t effectively convey them in an interview they will go unnoticed. Now that’s turning a negative into a positive!

     Maintain a clean driving and criminal record.

    It goes without saying that firefighters are held to a standard that is much higher than the average citizen. The road is littered with firefighter candidates who have failed their background check due to a poor driving or criminal record.

     Maintain a good credit history.

    Your credit history is a reflection of your reliability, honesty, organization and attention to detail.

     Update your resume.

    Make sure your resume has no technical or grammatical errors, is well organized and comprehensive. Ask reliable friends or family to proofread it.

  5. #5
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    70

    Default

    The thing that gets me is the credit report. I am against a poor credit rating going against you. There are some things in life that people make stupid choices on, such as finances, but just because your credit score is low shouldn't determine if you should get hired. I know some great Firefighters with poor credit (or so they say) and are working towards fixing it. So maybe some people got caught up and hit some financial difficulties. I don't know, I'm against that affecting you. I don't necessarily see it as a reflection of honesty or personality, though.

  6. #6
    Forum Member DeputyMarshal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    2,638

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mattc05 View Post
    I don't necessarily see it as a reflection of honesty or personality, though.
    IMHO, the problem with job applicants with poor credit isn't necessarily about "honesty" or "personality": it's just that a prospective employee without credit problems is more desirable than one with them.

    Consider it this way, an employee with chronic serious credit problems is...

    more likely to be generally poorly organized in a job that demands attention to detail;

    more likely to be distracted by outside problems in a job that demands focus;

    more likley to suffer from chronic outside stress in a job that is already among the most stressful there is;

    more susceptible to temptation in a job that provides ample opportunity to be tempted.

    From a prospective employer's point of view, who wants to take the risk of hiring a potential "problem" employee if they don't have to?
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

  7. #7
    Permanently Removed CALFFBOU's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    CA
    Posts
    6,520

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyMarshal View Post
    IMHO, the problem with job applicants with poor credit isn't necessarily about "honesty" or "personality": it's just that a prospective employee without credit problems is more desirable than one with them.

    Consider it this way, an employee with chronic serious credit problems is...

    more likely to be generally poorly organized in a job that demands attention to detail;

    more likely to be distracted by outside problems in a job that demands focus;

    more likley to suffer from chronic outside stress in a job that is already among the most stressful there is;

    more susceptible to temptation in a job that provides ample opportunity to be tempted.

    From a prospective employer's point of view, who wants to take the risk of hiring a potential "problem" employee if they don't have to?
    DeputyMarshal- You nailed it. Wish I wrote that.

  8. #8
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    70

    Default

    DeputyMarshal- Oh I agree with you on that in a way, but people that had been in debt and resolved it but still have that bad credit rating, that is what I don't like, because I know they see a score, I'm not sure if they ask you to explain it or not. But there are some guys on my department with crappy credit but they seem to do fine and not let any of their personal life or finances interfere, so I am not sure how it makes them "problem" employees, but I understand where your coming from
    Last edited by mattc05; 05-14-2007 at 03:53 PM.

  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber JLam77's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    162

    Default

    Well, my credit is good, so that's not an issue.

    I guess what I'm really looking for is stories of what individuals did to prepare. How did YOU get that job?

  10. #10
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Posts
    2,464

    Default The Problem is Poor Oral Board Skills!

    In addition to getting your EMT (LA City will not hire you without it) try and get in an academy to demonstrate you have hand on experience that a department can take a chance on you. Most important of all is to learn how to take a firefighter interview that’s different from any other.

    The Problem is Poor Oral Board Skills!

    Since 100% of your score in obtaining a firefighter job is in the oral board, what are you missing that's keeping you from gaining a badge?

    Bottom line most candidates don't do enough interviewing to get good at it. This is also true for any job interview. You've got around 20 minutes for a 25+ year career. How are you going to stun the oral board panel to convince them to give you the badge over the other candidates?

    Too many candidates do poorly on their oral boards. The problem is most of them don't know how poorly they're doing. I've seen it too often. It's the most misunderstood and least prepared for portion of the testing process.
    I've seen candidates with great credentials, but can't present the package at the interview. And, if you can't present the package, you don't get the job . . . Period! Never! Ever!

    How Long Can You Tread Water?

    And the badge goes to?

    Many don’t know what goes on behind the scoring scene
    during and after your interview. I hope this recent e-mail will shed
    some light:

    Capt Bob,
    I took the oral interview with LA City and wanted to write a quick note.

    As you have said before oral board is the most important step in the
    process and the step that is least prepared for. Well I can support
    your statement. As I watched the recording of my score (reading upside
    down) I noticed 60's and 70's on the scores of those that interviewed
    before me. I would assume there were about 25 names on the sheet prior
    to mine.

    With all respect to the following comment, this is one of the most important clues why candidates have trouble in their oral boards:
    "I recently had an interview, and I know my answers were great especially after hearing how another candidate answered them. He made the list, and I did not. Go figure!" Jed.

    This is the problem! Most candidates think their answers are great, when they aren't. If their answers were as great as they thought, they would make the list and get a badge. They listen to other candidates and firefighters who make them into clones. Have you noticed, that once a person becomes a firefighter, they're instantly the experts on how to get hired?

    It's got to be frustrating. But if you're passing the written and agility, which are usually pass/fail, and you're not placing high enough on the oral, that's where the problem exists. What most candidates do if they don't place high enough on the oral is go back and try to pack on more credentials. “Oh, I have to finish my degree or get through that academy” They do little to nothing in gaining the skills for the oral board, which is usually 100% of the score. If you don't do anything to improve your oral board skills nothing is going to change, you will never, ever see that badge. The oral board is for all the marbles. This is where the rubber meets the road.

    Stop looking in the magnifying glass at others . . . and start looking in the mirror at your self. That's where the problem is.
    ______________________________ _______________

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

    Fire "Captain Bob"

    www.eatstress.com

  11. #11
    Forum Member almsfan21's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    KCMO
    Posts
    129

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JLam77 View Post
    Well, my credit is good, so that's not an issue.

    I guess what I'm really looking for is stories of what individuals did to prepare. How did YOU get that job?

    I haven't been hired yet, but I am still in high school and preparing to become a FF. I've enrolled in an Anatomy and Physiology class at the local community college this summer, as it is a prerequisite for most Paramedic schools. In addition, I enrolled in a college Fire Academy to earn FF1, FF2 and EMT-B. I bought Dr. Jen's Fire It Up training program, and it's been great so far for getting me in shape. In addition, I went to the local library and am reading all I can about the Fire Service. It seems like you have a lot going for you, and the only thing working against you may be your age. Other than that, you sound like a very good candidate. Good luck.

  12. #12
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Posts
    2,464

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by almsfan21 View Post
    It seems like you have a lot going for you, and the only thing working against you may be your age. Other than that, you sound like a very good candidate. Good luck.
    Hold on. Ted was number 3 on the list of a big city fire department, an EMT and FORTY-SEVEN YEARS OLD! He also scored higher than his Son on the same list and got the job. Bravo!
    ______________________________ _______________

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

    Fire "Captain Bob"

    www.eatstress.com

  13. #13
    MembersZone Subscriber JLam77's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    162

    Default

    Thanks for your comments about the orals Capt. Bob. I've got 2 chiefs in my family who have hired lots of firefighters (albeit in smaller departments) and they are going to help me prepare for the orals when the time comes.

    Lots of good advice in this thread, thanks folks.

  14. #14
    Forum Member station75's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Apple Valley, CA
    Posts
    36

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JLam77 View Post
    A bit of background. I'm 30 years old, married, with a kid on the way. I have a financially successful career in the television industry, but I have almost zero job satisfaction.

    I grew up in a firefighting family, and planned on becoming a firefighter up until I was about 17, when a career in TV sort of just fell in my lap. I ran with it, and it has been good to me. But I've come to realize that I made a mistake when I was younger and I should have pursued my dream of becoming a firefighter back then.

    Now I'm ready to make a career jump. I've submitted applications to both LA County and City, and they are both pending the results of my CPAT which I take in July. I'm also planning on starting EMT classes in August, and hope to be at least an EMT-B by the end of the month (it's an intensive 4 week course).

    I'm trying to find out other ways I can make myself into an attractive candidate. I have a 4 year degree, I'm pretty adept mechanically (not a master carpenter or anything but I know my way around power tools), I'm going to have my EMT, and I plan on being in the best shape of my life by the end of the summer. I'm also reading books on firefighting techniques as well as watching instructional videos.

    My background is squeaky clean and I'm a pretty intelligent guy who is capable of both taking orders and making decisions on my own if need be. That about sums me up.

    Is there anything else you would recommend me doing in order to prepare for my oral interview should I be lucky enough to get to that point? I want to be the best possible candidate I can be.
    First of all, I wouldn't limit myself to LA County or City. There are thousands of guys with FT experience still languishing on their lists. If you live in Southern California, there are hundreds of Fire Departments that you could apply for and get hired on before you ever received any job offer from either one.

    I would continue with what you have planned so far, it's a good start. This whole process, if you are dedicated, could take several years to complete and may be a big burden to carry. I know it can be done, I've seen several guys do it, Heck, I did it.

    Here is my offer to you, I've sat on numerous hiring orals and have been involved with many different aspects of Firefighter, Engineer and Captain testing over the past 25 years. If you're interested, email me or PM me and I would be glad to answer any questions you have.

    Also, I don't know exactly where you live, but I can set up a ride out at my Department if you'd like.

    Good luck to you, Jack

  15. #15
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    70

    Default

    JLam.. I was kind of in your situation, basically grew up in my whole life really. I prepared by becoming a fire explorer at the age of 16, turned 18 and got my Firefighter 1, became a full time volunteer while going for my Firefighter 2, and then went on to get my EMT. Basically worked out everyday, tons of sacrifice, I sacrificed my whole social life for about 2 years to get this job but it worked out great because I am close with all of my crew. My weekends were spent studying firefighting and watch training videos. Basically study and stay in shape. Learn anything you can, take a Firefighter 1 class, get your EMT, and test.

  16. #16
    Temporarily Inactive
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Franklin county
    Posts
    114

    Default

    The proven top 3 things that you need to be..."at least one of them is"
    1. Veteran
    2. Medic or EMT-I
    3. College graduate
    If you are at least one of these three examples then you have a huge advantage over EVERYONE else. Especially 1 AND 2. Ive been a professional firefighter for 12 years and everyone hired after me has been one of these 3. I have a GREAT friend who is on Los Angeles City fire and he will agree with with those 3 examples 100%. I was a 4 year veteran of the A.F. and im currently an EMT-I in Ohio. Hope this helps.

  17. #17
    MembersZone Subscriber JLam77's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    162

    Default

    Cool. I am a college grad and will have my EMT by the end of the summer.

    If only I can change my first name and take credit for my brother's stint in the army....hmmmm.

  18. #18
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    283

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JLam77 View Post
    Cool. I am a college grad and will have my EMT by the end of the summer.

    If only I can change my first name and take credit for my brother's stint in the army....hmmmm.
    i hope your kidding

  19. #19
    MembersZone Subscriber JLam77's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    162

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by matty21 View Post
    i hope your kidding
    What gave it away, the smiley or the fact that I was tacitly admitting to a felony on an open forum?

  20. #20

    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyMarshal View Post
    IMHO, the problem with job applicants with poor credit isn't necessarily about "honesty" or "personality": it's just that a prospective employee without credit problems is more desirable than one with them.

    Consider it this way, an employee with chronic serious credit problems is...

    more likely to be generally poorly organized in a job that demands attention to detail;

    more likely to be distracted by outside problems in a job that demands focus;

    more likley to suffer from chronic outside stress in a job that is already among the most stressful there is;

    more susceptible to temptation in a job that provides ample opportunity to be tempted.

    From a prospective employer's point of view, who wants to take the risk of hiring a potential "problem" employee if they don't have to?
    what about those that have sacrificed everything to become a firefighter? i, personally, had to let most of my bills go in order to finish the fire academy. i could not work enough hours to keep afloat. there were also the costs involved in the academy. i was able to borrow some PPE, but i had to buy most of my own. i had no help from family.
    since my son was born, 7yrs ago, i've always had trouble keeping up with my finances. that is one of, if not THE main reason i started to look into the Fire Service.
    i'm looking to better my life (including my financial situation) by becoming a firefighter.. it's frustrating to think that some of the sacrifices i made to get "here" would keep me from getting "here".
    i supposed it's all about the bottom line: credit score is credit score?

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. tips to ace my oral board???
    By kcmoneyy in forum Testing & Fitness
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 03-02-2006, 01:52 PM
  2. Man makes off with fire truck as firefighters battle flames
    By nozzelvfd in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 02-18-2006, 03:20 PM
  3. second interview
    By ftfdverbenec770 in forum Hiring & Employment Discussion
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 01-10-2006, 12:43 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts