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September, 2002

Are you interested in obtaining the competitive edge required to be successful in your goal of becoming a firefighter?  Since 1950, Don McNea Fire School's seminars and entry-level products have prepared over 40,000 applicants in their pursuit of becoming a firefighter.'s entry-level newsletter is about YOU BEING THE BEST THE BEST PREPARED AND BEST INFORMED!  This periodic newsletter will concentrate on the complete firefighter examination testing process.  We suggest that you start a notebook or 3-ring binder of our newsletters so that you can periodically review them in your examination preparation.

By receiving this newsletter, you will also receive periodic notices of firefighter examinations being held across the country.  We will also enroll you in our weekly drawing for a free copy of our Encyclopedia of Firefighter Examinations and Psychological Exam Preparation Audiotape or CD and Workbook.

Web site:


Fax:  440-572-5971

Please forward or recommend this Fire Prep newsletter to anyone you know who wants to obtain that competitive edge!

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    1. Reading Comprehension Test-taking Strategies II

    2. Additional Entry-Level Preparation Tips

    3. Physical Agility Preparation

    4. Fire Prep Topics of Interest Psychological Testing

    5. Firefighter Selection Inc. (FSI)  

    6. New York Firefighter Examination Preparation

    7. Entry-Level Products

    8. Fire Promotional Prep Products

    9. Valuable Web Site for Candidates


    1. Reading Comprehension Test-taking Strategies II

Additional reading comprehension techniques and testing subjects will appear in upcoming newsletters.

When you are reading a short passage for the first time, read it carefully.  A short passage is one that is only seven or eight lines long.  You can retain all of the main ideas and remember where particular things are mentioned from one careful reading.  Hence, you do not want to waste time reading this passage twice.

Besides wasting time, another bad consequence of reading a short passage very carelessly the first time is that it may leave you with some false impressions of what you have read.  Wrong ideas can get stuck in your head from a careless reading.  Then it will be more difficult to get the correct answer.

For long passages, look ahead to see what is being asked.  Take a look at the "stem" of the question, the sentence that precedes the answer choices.  And look at the kinds of choices that are being offered.  Sometimes reading passages are long but the questions are asking only for particular details.  In that case, you can often skim a long passage to find the particular detail.

Keep forging ahead.  Do not get bogged down if there is a word or sentence you do not understand.  You may get the main idea without knowing the individual word or sentence.  Sometimes you can sense the meaning of the word from the context.  Sometimes the word or sentence may not be the basis of any question.  If there is some idea you need to answer a question but do not understand, read it one more time.  If you still do not understand it, move on.  You can come back to this question later if you  have more time at the end of the test.

Picture what you read.  Try to form a picture in your mind as you read.  Schoolbooks used to teach reading contain many pictures because pictures aid comprehension.  When reading material without pictures, it will aid your comprehension if you use your imagination to picture in your mind what you are reading.  Read as if you were a professional illustrator who has been hired to do an illustration for the passage.

Ask yourself questions as you read.  When you finish reading a sentence, ask yourself what the author was saying.  At the end of a whole paragraph, ask yourself what the point of the whole paragraph was.  If you ask yourself questions, you will find that you are paraphrasing the passage in your mind.  That will help your understanding.

Know where the author stands.  Sometimes a passage will contain an evaluation of some ideas of tools or procedures.  The author may want to make the point that certain practices or procedures are bad or that certain tools may not be right for a particular job.  Be sure you know if the author is accepting or rejecting something.

Circle keywords and phrases.  In a reading comprehension test you are not reading for just a vague general understanding of the passage.   You usually have to read for detailed understanding.  There will be individual words that are important for grasping a point exactly.  You do not want to write so much on a passage that it is hard to read a second time if you need to go back to check a detail.  But you do want to circle key words or phrases that will enable you to zero in on precise points needed to answer a question.

For additional reading comprehension test-taking strategies and tips, click here:

    2. Additional Entry-Level Preparation Tips

  • Be sure to keep a file for each municipality in which you take an examination and be sure to note the test consultant.  This will help you know what to expect for future examinations.  Many examinations include study guides.  If you have a study guide on file for that test consultant, you can begin studying immediately.  The application period is often from 30-90 days and study guides aren't released until the final weeks before the examination.  If you have a file on a specific test consultant that uses a study guide, you can begin studying immediately before your competition.  Many times a specific test consultant uses the same study guide from one examination to another.
  • If you are new to the examination process, try to locate someone in the department who has recently been hired or someone who has recently taken the examination and ask them for insight.  Some questions to ask them are: what testing subjects were included in the written examination; what were the physical agility events; what was involved in the oral interview process; and what type of oral questions were asked.
  • 3. Physical Agility Preparation

Physical agility testing events in most departments are very strenuous in nature.  You must begin your workouts immediately in order to put yourself in top condition to perform well.  This training should be year-round.  In preparing firefighter applicants for physical agility examinations for over 50 years, one of the most important aspects is overall good strength, with emphasis on good leg strength and most importantly your wind endurance (lung strength and capacity).  Time and time again, we see individuals who are 6'4", 250 pounds, can squat 350 pounds 10 times, run 2 miles and think that they are in good physical shape.  However, if they have not built up their wind endurance (lung capacity), they may have the strength equivalent of someone who is 75 pounds.  Nothing drains your strength more than a lack of wind conditioning.  Most physical agility test events are of short duration but very demanding.  Most of these events are completed in a 5-10 minute timeframe.  During that time, it is an all-out effort.  We believe that the emphasis of your preparation training should be on developing your wind endurance.  Wind sprints are an excellent way of increasing your endurance.  Start off by sprinting 30 yards, 3 or 4 times.  Then proceed to 40 yards, 50 yards.  After a period of training and you feel that your lung capacity is increasing, we suggest that you undertake the following physical agility training:

Mark off 20 yards, 30 yards, 40 yards, and 50 yards.  Use a nearby recreation field in your area or even a parking lot.  Start your sprints by running 20 yards and then sprint back to the start.  Then immediately sprint to the 30-yard marker and back to start.  Then sprint to the 40-yard marker and back to start.  Sprint to the 50-yard marker and back to start.  As you continue training, you will see that your wind endurance is building.  You may be able to complete 5-6 of these wind sprints in a single training session and not feel winded.

    4. Fire Prep Topics of Interest Psychological Testing

Dear Don McNea Fire School:  From my best recollection, the following question was on a CWH test.  I was wondering if you could give me some insight on it.

When you are interacting with individuals, do you find that:

    a) people's minds seem to wander when you are talking to them

    b) people find what you are discussing extremely interesting

    c) people often don't seem to be paying attention to what you are saying

    d) people listen to you and seem interested in what you are discussing

Answer:  The answer choice can be immediately narrowed down to b) or d).  We believe that the correct answer is d).  If you answer b), you are the type of person who believes that everyone else finds them extremely interesting (keyword is extremely).  Psychological test questions like these are trying to determine if you need to be the center of attention.  One of the key personality traits these tests are trying to determine is whether you are a team player.  Team players don't need to be the center of attention or need recognition for individual accomplishments.  Firefighting emphasizes teamwork this is extremely important to remember on these psychological examinations!    Answer d) is humbly the best choice.  Hopefully this answer will help improve your future test scores!

In upcoming issues, we will be addressing different CWH test questions that have been emailed to us.

    5. Firefighter Selection Inc. (FSI)  

FSI is a testing company used throughout the country.  Below we have listed some practice examination questions that we have developed from the study guide that you received in preparation for this type of examination.  Don McNea Fire School also has a 500-question practice examination workbook available on our web site.

      1. NFPA Publication #194 lists standards for:

    (Hose and Ladders, pg 23)

        A) screw threads, gaskets and outer covering

        B) screw threads and gaskets

        C) screw threads, gaskets, outer covering and coupling components

      2. The number of siamese connections found on a building depend on:

    (General Fireground Operations, pg 124)

      A) specified water flow and size of outlets

      B) size and number of risers

      C) number of gate valves and system outlets

      3. When a firefighter has made the decision to enter a burning building, he must:

    (First Aid and Rescue, pg 93)

        A) stay as high as possible, keeping a keen outlook for possible fire victims

        B) proceed into the building in a crawling position

        C) proceed into the building in a supine position, staying as low as possible, while feeling in front of the area for possible fire victims

      4. At a single-family dwelling fire, firefighters have placed a hole in the roof for ventilation purposes.  Which of the following is the correct procedure when firefighters have discovered an attic fire in progress:

    (Ventilation/Overhaul/Salvage, pg 64)

        A) cut a second hole in the roof on the windward side near the eaves

        B) cut a second hole in the roof on the leeward side near the eaves

        C) make the original hole in the roof larger to increase ventilation

        D) cut a second hole in the roof on the windward side near the peak of the roof

    6. New York Firefighter Examination Preparation

The City of New York will be conducting a firefighter examination on Saturday, November 23, 2002.

How to apply:

1. Applications period is from June 28, to September 30, 2002

2.  On line at the DCAS website: if you wish to apply online, browse to Online-Apps at and follow the on screen application instructions for filling out any required forms and electronically submitting your application. Fees for application submitted online are payable only with a valid credit card. (fee is $35.00)

3.  By mail: return all completed forms and the application fee to DCAS application section, 1 Centre Street, 14th floor, New York, NY 10007. Fees ($35.00) for applications submitted my mail are payable by money order to D. C. A. S. (Exams) Applications will not be accepted in person.

4.  You can also call 718-999-3369 and have an application and requirements mailed to your house.


1.  Successfully complete 30 semester credits from an accredited college or university or a four-year high school diploma or its educational equivalent and have completed two years of honorable full-time U.S. military service.

2. Must be 17-1/2 years of age by the end of the application period and you must not have reached your twenty-ninth birthday by the beginning of the application period to be eligible for appointment.

Salary: starts at $32,724 will be offering an at home preparatory package for this exam in the near future.

Lieutenant and Captain In-basket Preparation Each of these examinations include two, 50-question practice examinations, each over 80 pages in length, with in-depth explanations for each question and corresponding behavior dimensions.  Also included in this package are:  Elements of an In-basket, Behavior Dimensions, and our Top-Scoring Performance Strategies that have been proven extremely successful.  Log on to order these products!

    9. Valuable Web Sites for Candidates

Learn how entry level and promotional candidates are improving their interview scores up to 15 points and nailing that badge!

Click here:

Fire "Captain Bob"

Have you recently been hired by a department?  Do you have any questions?  E-mail us at 

We hope this newsletter and upcoming editions will assist you in obtaining the best job in the world a firefighter.  We wish you the best of luck!


Don McNea Fire School


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