1. #1
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    Question How to answer specific oral interview question

    After a recent oral board interview, I have been going over my answers to questions and have one that stumps me. I'm not sure if I answered appropriately or if there is a better answer.


    The question was something like:
    "You are a rookie firefighter. Your officer orders you and your crew into a structure fire. While entering you see obvious signs that the building will collapse soon. Your crew has not seen fire for some time and everyone is very excited about going in. What do you do?"

    I answered something like:
    "The incident priorities at an emergency scene are life safety, incident stabilization, and property conservation. Under life safety comes first; responder safety, patient and bystander safety, and then animal safety.

    "My ultimate responsibility is to take care of myself. I can't help or take care of anyone else if I don't first take care of myself. This includes not allowing myself to be put in situations that I know are imminently dangerous. At the same time I must look out for the other members of my crew. None of the incident priorities will be successful if myself and the other responders are not safe"

    "In this situation my first step would be to tell the officer in charge of my entering crew the signs of collapse that I saw. If this was unsuccessful, I would try to quickly explain what I saw to senior members of my crew. If they were not listening to me or still too excited I would position myself in front of my officer in order to get the full attention of my officer. I believe that officers in the fire service have the best interest of the people under their command when making decisions. If my officer said he or she thought that our crew was not in danger, I would carry out the order and enter the structure with my crew."


    This is a tricky question! How would others have answered? What do you think they are looking for as a response?

    None of us individually want to be hurt or killed, but we also don't want our crew members to be injured or killed. I just can't think of what would be a better response.


    Thanks for any ideas!

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    and then animal safety.

    Had you practiced this answer in advance with a recorder to hear what the panel was going to hear out of your mouth?

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    I don't think the answer sounds that bad, but I have to agree with CaptBob's question...animal safety?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    I don't think the answer sounds that bad, but I have to agree with CaptBob's question...animal safety?
    Ive not been through to many interviews - And there are obviously alot of guys here with alot more experience. But I gotta say: I don't think the answer was that bad. There were a few spots that sounded a little rough, but that probably wont throw your answer score off that much . . .

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptBob View Post
    and then animal safety.

    You're right this sounds weird. I'll pull it.


    Had you practiced this answer in advance with a recorder to hear what the panel was going to hear out of your mouth?
    Many, many times.

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    Follow the chain of command. Start by expressing your concerns with the senior member of the attack team. If you are still unsure, use your tactical radio to describe interior conditions and emphasize the danger of bldg. collapse. Hopefuuly the i.c. or safety officer will order all crews out. Failing that call a mayday. However you answer this question, lean on the side of caution. Good luck.

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    Many, many times.

    Maybe too many times adding on more than needed? I'm a big believer in using the recorder. I don't know you or your other answers, but often a candidate can get to overkill. It's like an engineers mind. They want to give a blue print when we just need a sketch. A dump truck when we just need a trailer.

    Polecat goes right at the answer

    Quote Originally Posted by polecat View Post
    Follow the chain of command. Start by expressing your concerns with the senior member of the attack team. If you are still unsure, use your tactical radio to describe interior conditions and emphasize the danger of bldg. collapse. Hopefuuly the i.c. or safety officer will order all crews out. Failing that call a mayday. However you answer this question, lean on the side of caution. Good luck.
    Are your Answers TOO Long?

    Answering the question longer than a reasonable response can be considered a salvo drop according to my associate and friend Tom Dominguez. A salvo drop is where an air tanker drops the whole load of retardant or water on a fire all at once instead of spreading it out. All retardant compartment doors are opened at the same time. This is done when the retardant is needed all at once.

    Tom is right about salvo drops. I’ve had candidates where the instant we would finish a question they would immediately start like a parrot on this salvo drop, never coming up for air, or giving the raters an opportunity to interact. Often it was word for word, without being personalized to the candidate, out of one of the many books out there with suggested oral board answers. We could often tell by the 2-3 question which book or college program the candidate got their answer. Valuable points are lost here.

    There is one exception where you can use a salvo drop answer. It’s the answer to the question, “What have you “Done to Prepare for the Position?” You don’t want to hold anything back here. Dump the whole load.

    Keep in mind too that in a 20-minute interview you will have about 5-6 questions and answers. We host ‘It’s Your Turn in the Hot Seat” f-r-e-e college seminars where candidates can volunteer to answer the next oral board question (not knowing what it would be). One candidate who arrived late leaped at the opportunity for the next question. Once he was in the hot seat he was asked the question, “What do you know about our department?”

    The candidate proceeded to give this fast, rapid fire, long endless answer. It was like he was trying to cram everything in he could think of down to fine details. Just when you though he was coming in for a landing, he touched down and took flight again. You could see the glaze coming over those in the room (as you would see from an oral board panel) as he continued.

    When he finally ended the first comment from the room was, wasn’t that answer too long? The attendees saw first hand how these long endless salvo drop answers can start to work against you to the point of overkill, making you sound anal. Oh, yea this is the guy we want to stick in a station and drive everyone else crazy.

    One candidate said he had been told by many other candidates and firefighters to keep answering until they stop you. Well, put your self in the position of a panel member and you have to stop this guy to get him to shut up. How would you rate them?

    If you go endless in your answers, you might get cut off before you got to deliver some of the best stuff.

    Since oral board scores are calculated in hundredths of points (82.15, 87.63, 90.87, etc), the goal is to keep building on a few hundredths of points here, a few there, pulling away from the parrot salvo dropping clones.
    ______________________________ _______________

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    Default Similar Question

    Just throwing another one out there as food for thought:

    Would you rather be excellent ( <-- can't remember the exact word) individually on an average crew, or have an "excellent" crew and be an average team-member?

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    Default You missed the point

    The question was something like:
    "You are a rookie firefighter. Your officer orders you and your crew into a structure fire. While entering you see obvious signs that the building will collapse soon. Your crew has not seen fire for some time and everyone is very excited about going in. What do you do?"

    Firefighting is all about accountability. I think everyone has missed the point of the question?

    In this situation you are acting alone. You are ordered by your officer to make entry, but where is the rest of your crew?

    You see obvious signs of collapse and your crew cannot be located. You have an obligation to ensure the safety of your crew, ESPECIALLY if they are inside.

    Firefighters inside of a structure have a very limited view, frequently just a few inches. Firefighters on the outside have a much better view to things that cause imminent collapse such as growing vent pipes, cracks in a masonry wall, or elongating steel beams pushing through an exterior wall.

    To me, the crux of this question is notifying the IC that the structure is showing signs of collapse (that’s why we take so much time in the academy teaching recruits the signs of collapse), and that your crew may be missing.

    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com

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