1. #1
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    north of San Francisco

    Default Getting Hired Isn't The Hard Part

    So many people invest so much of themselves in getting hired, that they loose sight of the whole reason they were doing it. Years have been spent in gaining education and experience. Years of preparation, juggling jobs, relationships, testing, making hard decisions, so that one day they would get “The Call”.

    Then there are lots of high fives, partying, calling friends and family to let them know you made it. Telling the people who told you to give up, they were wrong. Buying a new car to drive to the first day of the academy. Yes, they finally made it. Big sigh of relief.

    Then the shock comes. The academy is tough, really tough. They were slowing down after a long race to get the job and they should have been ready to kick it into high gear. They thought if they could do well in the physical agility, or C-PAT they were ready. I have news for you, “THAT IS THE MINIMUM QUALIFICATION”. No matter how in shape you are most academies will kick your butt.

    As Paul stated recently, they seem comfortable calling people by their first names, acting like they are now part of the brotherhood, and accepted. Everyone you come in contact with, including the janitor, should be addressed by his or her title, or sir or ma’am.

    If you are asked to do something, you should think if there is something else you could do, and ask if it was done properly when finished. If you run around the track and are hot and dead tired and are asked if you could do another, the correct answer is always yes sir.

    Understand that everyone in the department if forming an opinion of you while you are there, you want it to be a positive one. In one academy the group was shown a large pipeline fire, after it was out and cooled, the confined space team had to make entry to evaluate body recovery. From the back of the room a new person says, “I would have to respectfully decline”. This person was not being asked to go in, but voiced that opinion anyway. How would you like to start your probation in a department with that rep?

    Most people do not have this problem, but I hear from a lot that do. We let three go from our last academy and one resigned. For the most part people aren’t let go for academics, or manipulative skills problems. It comes down to attitude, most either go in without a knowledge of what to expect, or they didn’t have the fire in their belly.

    Good Luck, Captain Rob


  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Pleasanton, CA

    Default Getting a job

    Captain Rob,

    I really like what you have said here. I don't really qualify as a person who has been hired, or is looking to get hired. But, I do find this topic very interesting.

    It's so funny the way the human minds works: "Hey did you get hired?" or "Hey did you get that job?".... "Hey, I got into the academy!" In this day and age, it all seems to be about what we are getting. (NO offense- I know it's just an expression)

    I am not perfect at it, but I try really hard to focus on spending my valuable brain space thinking about how I can help people... about how I can be of service to them. I find it very personally draining to think in terms of trying to get stuff. It seems to work for me if I just think about what I can to to help other people around me get what they want... or what they need.

    The job of firefighter is one of service and should be highly coveted for it's help to the greater good... the people in the community around us... not the new truck or the recognition.

    It's a wonderful career. Maybe focusing on how fortunate one is to be allowed to help other people would work better.

    Cognative disonance: When you are busy thinking about one thing, there is little space in your brain to think about another.

    Don't mean to put a damper on anyone's excitement. I get excitement. But Purpose is very fulfilling too.

    Thank you for your insight, Rob.

    Dr. Jen

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Aug 2007


    Thank you, Capt. Rob..I myself had no idea how hard it is in an Academy. I am in one now. Uniforms are to be pressed, "gig lines" at all times, boots polished, clean shaven every day to be ready to for an inspection at any time. I really liked what you said about addressing the janitors, as we do the same. We also "stand down" to anyone while walking in the hallways. The hours are long, and the PT is tough. We've had three drop already, two weeks into it. The first one to drop was taken away in an ambulance during PT.

    Maybe it was I didn't want to listen, or I just didn't. But to all the other recruits out there...take this seriously. Very seriously.

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Pleasanton, CA

    Default Humility and service... training...

    I really liked what you said about addressing the janitors, as that can do us allo some good.

    Are You Ready for the Fire Academy?
    Just because you passed the physical agility doesn't mean you are ready for the fire academy. Whether you agree or not, the physical agility has been watered down to be politically correct. Departments know this. So, the training division is going to put you through the wringer to make sure you can do the job before you go on line. If you can't keep up they will wash you out. You have to maintain good physical conditioning during your probation and through out your career. While this program is very important to prepare for your CPAT, adding back in regular weight training and cardio (thus cross training) after your exam, is a good idea.

    Showing up at the academy is not the time to start getting ready. You need to be in shape and hit the ground running. It's tough enough getting a job.
    Keeping it can be a challenge. If you are let go by one department, it is going to be difficult if not impossible to get another department to take a chance on you.

    In an academy: the hours are long, and the PT is tough. Academies often lose 2 or 3 in the first 2 weeks! Sometimes they are taken away in an ambulance during PT.

    Here are some of the incidents where candidates were let go:

    A candidate shows up at an academy not in shape even though he knows they will run 3 miles a day, he can't. Result. They run him into the ground the first week.

    Another recruit knew he had to lose weight for the academy. He did not reach his goal. His weight caught up with him trying to hump hose up the tower with a SCBA. Result: Got his marching orders because he didn't have the wind to complete this tough academy. Good news again. Regrouped, lost the weight, got in shape and convinced a department with an easier academy he would be an asset.

    Maybe you could use a little bit of Job specific training?

    Dr. Jen

  5. #5
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    San Francisco Bay Area

    Default Clouded

    No matter what path you decide on to gain your badge going the educational route of getting an advanced degree, testing where ever you can, academy, or becoming a medic there could be potential land mine fields if you don’t prepare in advance.

    For some they are clouded and domed before they ever take their first step because of something in their past, job history, criminal record, credit, driving record or domestic violence. They still believe though that they have a shot. Then, they don't face it until it's staring them in the face at the next step in the hiring process.

    Too many candidates walk in flat-footed once they’re given a conditional job offer and are eliminated in the psych, poly and medical. These are unchartered waters where you need to be prepared in advance before you show up. These are experts who are being paid to take you out.

    Too often I receive calls from candidates who ask, “What do I do now” after they have spend time, money, education and put their lives on hold for years only to be taken out at one of the hiring stations. Sad. Had they prepared they would have been educated to understand the process and not step on the land mines.

    You won’t even get that far in the hiring process if you don’t learn how to take an interview. Because you will never place high enough on the list to be considered for a shot at a badge. Many feel just by packing on the credentials will ensure they will get a job.

    As Steve Prziborowski, BC - Santa Clara County Fire Department wrote:

    Do what you have to do be more marketable so you can take more tests and have something more to offer a department, but remember that it all comes down to that 15 to 30 minute oral interview. I've seen some awesome candidates with resumes packed full of accomplishments that couldn't sell them self in an interview to even make the top 50%.

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

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

    More Tips on getting hired and promoted by Firehouse Contributing Author Fire “Captain Bob” Articles here:

    Fire "Captain Bob"


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