Thread: Quick question.

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    Question Quick question.

    I'm looking for some insight into the best way to approach the common scenario of being given an order on an emergency scene that puts my life, or others in jeopardy that may also go against standard operating procedures. What is the best way to handle this situation?

    Thanks.

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    Default Elenth Hour Questions, Right?

    OK, You will probaby get more advice on this one. Here's my take:

    This is a dilemma. Some departments want you to blindly follow orders, yes even to the point of jumping off a cliff, and others want you to draw the line at some point where you would remain an asset instead of a liability that would place others in danger that would have to come in after you.

    In many situations the panel members arenít from the department youíre testing for. So, they might not know the department SOPís. In this scenario type question one panel member is usually asking you this question. If you can create banter back and forth with this panel member, as if they were the Captain who is giving you the order, you can start building up valuable points.

    You can start out by repeating the order to make sure you understood it. The Captain will confirm thatís the order. Than you can banter back and forth as outlining any concern. If you see conditions that would cause a life hazard as you progress, walkie talkie the updte information to your officer.

    Hey, in real live you might do something else. But the oral board is fantasyland in many ways. Just go through the drill. You could add that you donít know what the Captains plan is or what additional resources they have coming that could be in place before you advance a line, perform a rescue or any other emergency situation.

    A recent candidate got to the point where you were and he refused to follow the order. Later in the interview a panel member gave him the opportunity to revisit his decision. That should have been a clue they wanted him to follow the order.

    1 board member shook his head and said good, the other two looked at each other with big eyes and said nothing. It was un-nerving.

    You could be psyching yourself out when this happens. 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 a mental game. 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.
    Last edited by CaptBob; 01-10-2008 at 01:30 AM.
    _____________________________________________

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by busywaters View Post
    I'm looking for some insight into the best way to approach the common scenario of being given an order on an emergency scene that puts my life, or others in jeopardy that may also go against standard operating procedures. What is the best way to handle this situation?

    Thanks.
    I would express my concerns to the individual giving you the order. There is a possibility that he/she might be missing or not seeing something you have. After expressing my concerns and, he/she wants you to continue with the original order even if it goes outside the standard operating procedures I would carry out the task with full confidence.

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    The first thing taught in any class I have taken (or taught) is always the same......

    SCENE SAFETY!!!

    take that as you will. But, its your life, and not (directly) the IC/OIC. If you feel the act/job/incident is unsafe, act accordingly.
    "If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles."
    ********

    IACOJ

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    "Criticism is prejudice made plausible."
    - H. L. Mencken (1880-1956)

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    Quote Originally Posted by WaterbryVTfire View Post
    The first thing taught in any class I have taken (or taught) is always the same......

    SCENE SAFETY!!!

    take that as you will. But, its your life, and not (directly) the IC/OIC. If you feel the act/job/incident is unsafe, act accordingly.
    Agreed but in too many oral board settings they don't want to hear from the snott nose rookie that they will refuse the direct order.

    Once you get to the point where an officer wants the task carried out and you feel the assignment involves your safety i.e. taking a line around the back of the building and into the structure alone when the place is blowing out with no life hazard. This is where it get more dicey. Look directly at the panel member and ask, ďWhat is department policy on this assignment?Ē It probably is 2 in 2 out. Then ask, ďAs my captain are you asking me to violate department policy?Ē The exercise might be over at that time because the officer in probably not going to tell you to violate department policy. If the answer comes back yes, thatís what you will do in this fantasyland excersise.
    _____________________________________________

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

    Fire "Captain Bob"

    www.eatstress.com

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    In becoming a firefighter I know that there will be times when I have to put my life in danger, I know this and accept these responsibilites. I will always ask the risk vs. benefit question. Is this worth risking my life for? Sometimes it will sometimes it will not.

    When given an order I will always repeat the order back to the officer making sure I have not misheard him. I will inform the officer any safety issues he might have missed and try to do my best in getting the job done. He/She is my officer and has time and experience on the job. He/She might have already put safety measures in place that I dont know of. So in that getting the job done is my main objective.

    But in no way will I put my life or the lives of my fellow firefighters in danger for no reason at all.

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    But in no way will I put my life or the lives of my fellow firefighters in danger for no reason at all.

    Is this your final answer? Do you want to make a life line call first?

    Reads like it came right out of a book of suggested answers. Have you practiced your answer with a recorder to hear how it's going to sound to the oral board panel? Especially telling the panel members you're not going to follow orders and the PC term "He/She".

    Remember the oral board can like fantasy land. Not the real world. You got to convince the panel you can do the job before you get it so you can gain that badge, puff out your chest and riding big red.

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    Just so we are all clear here, Bob is referring to my book, "Smoke Your Firefighter Interview." Yes Bob you are correct. It is completely full of suggested answers, and the reasons I believe they are corect.

    This format allows the candidate to learn what I believe to be the correct answer. More imporatntly, the reasoning section following each question allows the candidate to understand the logic behind the right answer.

    When a candidate understands the logic, he or she develops a firm foundation that cannot be rattled during an interview. If a candidate simply memorizes questions and answers, the panel will see right through them.

    The question busywaters asked is number 14 of 105 in the book. I have cut and pasted it for you. The format is a little off as the cut and paste feature from the publishing program is a little unconventional, but you will get the idea.

    Question 14:
    You are at the scene of a structure fire. Your captain tells you and another
    firefighter to make an interior attack on the fire. You feel that it would be unsafe
    to do so.

    What would you do and why?
    Answer:
    I understand that my partner and I are assigned to make an interior attack
    on a structure fire. In this situation, we do not have a captain as an immediate
    supervisor. The question also has stated that I feel it would be unsafe to make
    the attack, but it does not specify as to why.

    I would need to use the knowledge learned at the academy or in my previous
    training to identify exactly why it is unsafe to enter. Itís unsafe to enter any
    building that is on fire simply because of the fire itself. In a manner of speaking,
    any building with a fire burning inside can be defined as being ďunsafe.Ē Just
    because it is unsafe to enter doesnít mean that we donít go in. It means we
    should be extra cautious in our approach, but it doesnít imply we watch it burn
    from the curb.

    I would evaluate the building construction features, paying particular
    attention to whether it was a lightweight or conventional construction. I know
    with lightweight construction the metal gusset plates that hold together wooden
    trusses fail at 800 - 1200 degrees. Open web bar joists fail at the same
    temperature. I know that with the time/temperature curve, ceiling temperatures
    of well over 1000 degrees can be reached in as little as five minutes, depending
    on the intensity of the fire.
    I will look at the building for signs of imminent collapse. I will look for smoke
    coming out of the cracks in a masonry building. I will be on the alert for steel
    beams elongating from the intense heat and poking through the exterior of the
    building. I will listen to the building for sounds of moaning and creaking, which
    would be coming from structural members as they deform. If I can see the
    roof, I will look for signs of collapse such as growing vent pipes, sagging or
    bubbling tar.
    If I see any of these features, I will point them out to my partner. My
    recommendation will be to avoid entering the structure. I am certain that after pointing out the above findingsto the other firefighter we would not enter the building. I will look for suitable options such as fighting the fire from a safe location from a window or a door. I would inform my Captain that it unsafe to enter.

    Our captain probably does not see what we see. He is busy commanding
    the incident. Otherwise, he would be at our side. He deliberately put us in a
    position of danger without his direct supervision, knowing that if we identify
    something that makes it unsafe to enter we will bring it to his attention. We as firefighters understand that there are inherent risks involved with the profession.

    This would be more than that. This would be taking an unnecessary risk.
    It may be different if there is a known life hazard, but to just go into a
    building for the sake of putting out a fire is not a calculated risk. My stand is
    that we inform the captain of our findings while doing the best we can from a
    safe position on the exterior.

    The captain returns and tells you that it is safe to enter.

    I believe that the captain has the experience to make the determination. If
    the captain tells me it is safe to enter, I will certainly trust his or her judgment. I
    would make sure that the captain sees my areas of concern. If he or she
    determines that it is still safe to enter, I will advance the line and put the fire out.
    After the fire, I will eagerly await the post-incident review. I will look forward
    to learning what the captain saw that determined his decision that it was safe
    to enter. I will use this as a learning opportunity, so that when confronted with
    a similar situation in the future, I will be confident in my decision.
    You point out your findings to the other firefighter and he says that we are
    going to go in anyway.

    What would you do and why?

    Since I am certain that he did not see what I saw, I will reiterate my findings.
    Anything that I have mentioned is so basic that the facts are indisputable. We have received training from the department to be independent thinkers.
    If my partner is an experienced firefighter, I will listen to his or her input. I
    understand that a senior firefighter has a tremendous amount of experience.
    His or her experience level may determine that it is safe to enter the structure.
    If this were the case, I would go in and put the fire out.

    What would you do if the other firefighter were a rookie?

    If the other firefighter is a rookie like me, I would listen to what he had to
    say, but I would be more inclined to listen to my gut feeling and not enter the
    structure. As one of us fights the fire from the exterior, the other will inform the captain that in our estimation, it is unsafe to enter the building.

    Reasoning:
    As a firefighter you are trained to follow orders. In addition to following orders you are taught to be an independent thinker. The fire service cherishes firefighters who can think on their feet. Many of the decisions you encounter will not be black or white, they frequently fall into the ďgray area.Ē It is important to use common sense and good judgment to make your decisions. If a firefighter blindly follows orders he or she becomes a liability, and a probably a statistic.

    The Captain has given an order to advance a hoseline into the structure. You have questions about the safety and prudence of following through with the aptainís order. If you blindly rush into the structure, you are not using your head. In this situation, you may ultimately survive, however, over the course of your career the odds will probably catch up with you. When they do, someone will have to go in and rescue you.

    The question is vague and does not state why you feel it is unsafe to advance the hoseline. Are there hazardous materials within the structure, or is the building constructed of hazardous materials? This is your opportunity to express any relevant knowledge that you may have on the subject. If you understand how fire in a lightweight can cause early structural collapse, use this opportunity to showcase your knowledge. If you have an understanding of the NFPA 704 Diamond placard system to identify buildings with hazardous materials, demonstrate to the board how this would affect your decision. As the question progresses, it is apparent that the other firefighter is comfortable entering the structure. Again, the question is vague. Is the other firefighter a rookie just like you, or is he or she a seasoned veteran? If the latter were true I would enter the building.

    The Captainís number one responsibility is to make sure every one of his or her crewmembers goes home safe in the morning. No firefighter ever wants to go to another firefighterís funeral. Firefighters take care of each other. Itís part of our make up. It is unacceptable to have a firefighter injured or worse yet, killed on a fire. No officer wants to give an order that will ultimately cause harm to a firefighter. Itís our worst nightmare. The worst thing an officer can imagine is to look your family members in the eye and apologize for giving an unsafe order. I canít imagine ever having to do such a terrible thing. I pray I never have to do it.

    My obligation as the officer is to look out for your safety. Your obligation to me is to point out things that I donít see. If, after evaluating your concerns I tell you itís safe, I expect you to follow your orders. I do not expect a brand new firefighter to disobey a direct order. We are a paramilitary organization. I cannot give orders on the fire ground and hope that you will follow them. We just donít operate that way.


    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com
    Last edited by BCLepore; 01-11-2008 at 09:36 AM.

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    Chief I honestly did not know this was from your book.

    Not that Iím right and the Chief is wrong.

    Although candidates should use suggested answers as building blocks, too many will use them word for word like above candidate apparently did. If I picked this right up so can other panel members.

    Panel members can often tell by the 2nd or third question where the candidate got their answers. A fire academy (where they practice using 3 X 5 cards), college classes, medic school, a book or a CDís. It makes the candidate look and sound like a clone of too many others. We experience this talking to a lot of candidates daily and during one on one coaching.

    So itís your second day of 8 days of oral interviews as a panel member. Youíre hearing too many candidates with the same answers, sameness, identical answers word for word complete with pauses from the CDís. You wonder who really owns the information and experience. It can be mind numbing for panel members.

    One candidate just told me after taking 11 tests and not getting hired that he felt this type of one size fits all format was like reading a personal diary. He said he changed 3 weeks ago to being more personable, more of who he is and feels unique, fresh or spontaneous. His first interview since he switched heís made it into the hiring process.

    Are you unique or just along for the ride?

    Fire "Captain Bob"

    http://www.eatstress.com

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    123fire,

    Let me put it to you this way. If you read a book that gives you the answers, you are not going to sound like you, you will sound like the person that wrote the book. Not only that, but because you didnít come up with the answer on your own, what if they ask you to explain you reasoning in doing what you did? You donít know because it wasnít your answer.

    Another problem could be that if you are quoting answers from a book you read or a person who taught a class, others may be quoting it also. What if you are in the oral interview for you dream department, the one you have waited for your whole life, and after your second response they stop you. They tell you that it is funny but the three people before you have answered every question word for word the same as you, and they want to know if they are going to get to heAr your answers or should they just give you the score they gave to others?

    I would sure want to be giving my own original answers and not something someone else gave me as their answer. If you can find a way to come up with your own answers it will also help you if they ask questions that you have never heard before. Because you will have figured out how to come up with your own answers, not look up answers.

    Good Luck, Capt Rob
    www.myfireinterview.com
    Nrtc@sonic.net
    (707)869-1330

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    Quote Originally Posted by FFighterRob View Post
    123fire,
    Let me put it to you this way. If you read a book that gives you the answers, you are not going to sound like you, you will sound like the person that wrote the book. Not only that, but because you didnít come up with the answer on your own, what if they ask you to explain you reasoning in doing what you did? You donít know because it wasnít your answer.
    Hmm.... when did I ever say that I'm using answers out of a book? I'm no longer a canidate and have used this answer different ways in different interviews. The way it sounds typed here and the way I actually say it are a little different. I do add experiences from life and my other jobs in all of my answers including this one which I did not mention for obvious reasons.

    As far as memorizing no matter how much I might try to memorize somthing it never comes out the same way.

    busywaters
    You asked for an approach to this question and this is mine. You should try to add things that have happened in your life that you can put toward this question and all other questions (Capt. Bobs way IMHO). I also believe you should add somthing fire related to the question too (Chief Lapores way IMHO). Capt Bob and Chief Lepore both have their own ways of looking at the oral interviews and both have helpful hints to scoring high. I have both programs and have learnd an aweful lot from both of them.

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