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Are you interested in obtaining the competitive edge required to be successful in your goal of becoming a firefighter or being promoted to an officer's position within your department? Since 1950, Don McNea Fire School's seminars, entry-level and promotional products have prepared over 40,000 applicants in their pursuit of becoming a firefighter or an officer.'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 and officer 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.

If you would like to review our past newsletters, go to and click on "Past Newsletters."

By receiving this newsletter, you will receive - AT NO CHARGE - 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.
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1. Test-taking Tactics - Word Clues
2. Fire Prep Topics of Interest - Psychological Testing
3. Oral Boards 101 - An Oral Board Strategy from Capt. Bob
4. Firefighter Selection Inc. (FSI)
5. Exam Preparatory Packages
6. Department Profiles
7. Testimonials
8. Entry-Level Products
9. Fire Promotional Prep Products
10. Products in Developmental Stage
11. Valuable Web Site for Candidates

1. Test-taking Tactics - Word Clues

With multiple-choice questions, only one of the answers can be correct. If there are four choices, three must be wrong. An answer may be correct because it is precise or because it is vague. An answer may be wrong because it is too exaggerated or too restrictive. Consider the following question:

A firefighter is required to wear the mask at any fire scene where there is a lot of smoke and whenever there is clear danger of hazardous chemicals in the air. If a firefighter's mask fails to work properly, the firefighter is to report this immediately to the officer in charge at the scene. The officer will usually order the firefighter to work off the immediate fire scene, such as at a hydrant. The firefighter may attempt to get the mask working properly and then request to be reassigned to the fire area.

Based on the paragraph above, it would be most correct to say that:
A) a firefighter should wear the mask only when there is a lot of smoke at a fire scene
B) a firefighter must attempt to repair a mask which is not working properly
C) a firefighter whose mask is not working properly will be assigned to work at a hydrant
D) the firefighter whose mask has been repaired can be reassigned to the fire area

In the above example, certain key words are used to make answers right or wrong. The A) choice is wrong because it contains the word "only." Without "only" A) would be a correct answer. The B) choice would be correct if it said "may" instead of "must." The C) choice is wrong because it says "will." The C) choice would be fine if it said "may" instead of "will." The D) choice is correct; it only says "can." The D) choice would be wrong it if said "must" instead of "can."

When evaluating answer choices, the words to be on the lookout for are the little words that tend to either "harden" or "soften" statements. Words which "harden" statements, and make them difficult to defend, are strong words like: all, every, always, will, must, certainly, invariably, surely, no one, ever, any, no matter, nothing, etc. Words which "soften" statements, and make them easy to defend, are words like: some, many, sometimes, may, possibly, generally, probably, usually, often, can, could, might, occasionally, etc. Notice how these words appear both in the "fact pattern" and in the answer choices of the example.

There are times when a very "hard" statement can be a correct answer choice. For instance, in the example above, it would be correct to make up an answer choice that states, "If a firefighter's mask fails to operate properly at a fire where there is a lot of smoke, the firefighter must always notify the officer in charge." Do not automatically rule out "hard" statements, but be careful about accepting them.

Remember that the test maker must be able to defend the correct answer and defend the claim that the other three answers are wrong. These little words that "harden" or "soften" statements often help to justify whether an answer is right or wrong. (They also reflect the difference between prudent, reasonable statements and exaggerated or overly rigid statements.) Hence, be sensitive to these little words when you are reading questions and evaluating answer choices. Get in the habit of using your pencil to underline or circle such words.

For additional test-taking strategies, click here:

2. Fire Prep Topics of Interest - Psychological Testing

In psychological examinations, interpersonal characteristics are one of the most important personality characteristics that these type of examinations are looking for. Listed below are examples of interpersonal characteristics of a successful firefighter:

A firefighter is someone who has a positive, enthusiastic attitude; maintains an effective and pleasant working relationship with peers and superiors; has a good, pleasant sense of humor; is honest and has strong values and ethics; is self confident in their work; will show empathy and is supportive of others in time of need; is someone who will treat all people with dignity and respect; someone who can render emergency care to anyone, regardless of who they are, where they are, and what their beliefs are; is able to work cooperatively and effectively with diverse groups of people, not only in the department, but in the community they serve; is willing to accept constructive criticism from others; has good organizational skills; is able to follow both oral and written directions; and is able to express themselves clearly and audibly.

For helpful examination preparation for psychological testing, click below:

3. Oral Boards 101 - An Oral Board Strategy from Capt. Bob

I marvel at how many candidates put so much into acquiring great credentials and yet can't present them at the oral board. Then they wonder why they down get high enough on the list to get hired.

Here is a simple oral board question that stumps most candidates: Why do you want to be a firefighter? If you answered this question with: it's public service, I like to help others, it's different every day, not behind a desk, giving back to the community, I'm a people person, or team player, etc., those are "clone" answers. "Clone" answers will dome your oral board.

How long do you think you have to present yourself to the oral board before you put them to sleep? 32 seconds. That's right! If you open with a clone answer, you will see the glaze come over the boards' eyes like a deer caught in the headlights or a child in front of a TV. They will go away and not come back. You have just scored yourself. Believe me. I've been on over 175 oral boards.
If you opened with a personalized story (your signature story) about you that the board has never heard, you grab their attention in that first 32 seconds and it's Show Time!

I was coaching a candidate one day and he was giving me those clone answers to why he wanted to be a firefighter. I stopped him and had him rewind the videotape of his life to where he first got the spark to be a firefighter. He said, "Oh, I'm from South America. When I was growing up, we lived with my grandfather who was the fire chief of the city. I got to go with him and be exposed to the whole department." I asked if he had ever told that story in any of his oral board interviews. He said, "No". Why not? I will bet you big money you are a clone candidate right now. But, I bet you also have some personal signature stories that could instantly change your interview scores.
Practice those stories and condense them down to a minute or less. Don't go on a journey. The oral board is not packed for the trip. Once you answer an oral board with a signature story, you can marry the rest of your answer with those clone answers you have been using. Try it and see the amazing difference.
You won't have time and it's not appropriate to use a signature story for every answer. Tell the story, make the point.

Here's a testimony of another one of the over 1800 candidates who have received a badge from our "Conquer Fire Department Oral Boards" program:

Captain Bob,
I just wanted to drop you a line and say thanks for all your help. About a year ago I bought your video and audio program. The information was incredible. Although I never fully understood until I saw the results of my interviews. I had been testing for about 3 years with no results. I had never received a passing score in the oral interview. I felt like I had very good credentials and could not understand why I was not getting hired. I had my BA from Cal-Berkeley, I spoke Spanish, I had my FFI and I was a paramedic! After using your program I have received 6 chief's interview, 3 of which I received job offers and the other 3 lists were canceled due to budget restraints. I have accepted a job offer with Los Angeles City Fire Dept. (LAFD). I start the academy on Nov. 24, 2003. This is truly a dream come true. Once again I want to say thank you for your enlightenment.


Want that edge over your competition on the oral interview? Paste and click on the link below to review Capt. Bob's oral interview prep:

Final Examination Preparation Package
One of the reasons we have put together this Final Exam Preparation Package is that time and time again we have heard from candidates who scored well on the written exam only to be disappointed when they fail the psychological exam or do poorly on an oral interview and don't know why. This Final Exam Preparation Package will keep you moving in the right direction - toward the goal of becoming a firefighter. It is up to you how bad you want it. Click here to review this package:

Special of the Month!
Each month, we will be putting together a special entry-level product discount package. Don't forget to check this link often!

4. Firefighter Selection Inc. (FSI)

Firefighter Selection, Inc. (FSI) is a testing company used throughout the country. We are currently updated to the 8th Edition and will inform you when it is complete.

5. Exam Preparatory Packages

Don McNea Fire School is in the process of putting together preparatory packages for the Las Vegas, Nevada, Stockton, California, and Tucson, Arizona firefighter examinations. Check our site in the next 7-10 days for preparatory package information!

6. Department Profiles

Los Angeles City Fire & EMS Bureau, 200 N. Main Street, 10th Floor, Los Angeles CA 90012, (213) 847-9060

Los Angeles County Fire Dept, 1320 N. Eastern, Los Angeles CA 90063, (323) 881-2433

Houston Fire Dept, 1100 Elder, Houston TX 77007, (713) 238-9661

Chicago Fire Dept, 121 N. LaSalle St, Room 105, Chicago IL 60602, (312) 744-4083

San Francisco Fire Dept, 260 Golden Gate Ave, San Francisco CA 94102, (415) 558-3400

Boston Fire Dept, 115 Southhampton St, Boston MA 02118, (617) 343-3463

For more department profiles, click on the link below for information on the top 150 fire departments in the country, including addresses, phone numbers and links to their websites:

7. Testimonials:
"I was curious to see if you had any study guides specific to the Public Safety Testing Written Examination or any insight regarding this exam. I recently ordered your Reading Comprehension and Mathematics Book and FSI book. FYI - I used your FSI study packet and missed only one question on my written exam. It was great help!" Mike Schrier
"I purchased your Ultimate Preparatory Package three months ago to help me prepare for four examinations in my area that I identified as departments I wanted to be hired on. As a former Marine, I am using the words that George Bush recently stated, "Mission accomplished." I have finished in the top 5 on each of these examinations and would not have without your testing materials. When you said it covers every aspect of the examination, you were very correct. I highly, highly recommend anyone who is serious about doing well on not one, but all portions of the hiring process, to use the Ultimate Firefighter Exam Package. Again, thank you!" Bill Montgomery
8. Entry-Level Preparation Products

Final Examination Preparation Package

Ultimate Firefighter Examination Package!

Don McNea Fire School's Encyclopedia of Firefighter Examinations

Don McNea Fire School's Reading Comprehension and Mathematics Book

Psychological Exam Preparation Audiotape or CD and Workbook

Firefighter Selection (FSI) 500-Question Practice Examination Workbook

Hiring Guide Notebook

Gold Bonus Package

Silver Bonus Package

9. Fire Promotional Preparation Products

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!

10. Products in Developmental Stage

Don McNea Fire School is developing an audiotape or CD presentation to prepare you for Understanding Oral Information - a very difficult portion of many CPS examinations. This product will contain over 100 practice examination questions on this exam section that is just killing candidates. With an average of 20-25 exam questions on this section, the average candidate score is 13-14 correct answers. You cannot give up that many questions to your competition and expect to be successful! This type of examination is unique and most candidates walk into the examination unprepared. In the next thirty days, we will be finalizing this preparatory package and will email you with details.

11. 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"

For free firefighter exam information and up-to-date information on entry-level testing and hiring, go to .

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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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