31. Review exams
Hello, I currently live in Northeast Ohio and have been taking fire tests around this area. I was wondering if you had any information on
looking over the exams after I take them. I notice that some cities will let me review the exam I have taken and some do not. Can you provide any insight into what I should do?
If you have the
opportunity to review your exam, we absolutely recommend that you do so. This will give you insight into your weak areas so that you can focus your studies on those areas. In many states, there are 2 or
3 test consultants giving examinations and the same exam is given time and time again. Anytime you have the opportunity to review your exam, take it and learn from it.
32. Need some advice about joining the military
This is a tough one, any help would be greatly appreciated. I am 25 and just recently got hired as a part time firefighter with a small
bay area fire department, I have my E.M.T, FFI academy and some other certs as well. I love the fire service, I know this is what I want to do as a career, but I also have always wanted to be in the military. My
question is this, would I be stupid to give all this up and put it on hold for three or four years to go join the military? By the time I got out I would be 28 or 29, I know that's not old but would everyone
else be passing me by in those three or four years? I'm not sure what to do, I feel pulled in both directions. I know that there are a lot of wise people in here that could maybe shed some light on the subject.
Thanks for the help in advance.
1. If you want to be in the military, the time is probably better NOW than later in your life.
2. Put yourself at 50 years old
(I know, hard to do for all of us, including myself) - if you choose NOT to go into the military, and become a firefighter instead, will this decision to not go into the military be something that you are going to
be regretting for the rest of your life? Are you going to be second-guessing the decision not to do it? If so, that might help.
3. Yes, you could put off being a firefighter for 4 or so years. Getting
hired in your early 30's is not that uncommon and not that impossible to do. If you have a clean military record, and stay up on your oral interview skills, testing skills, EMT skills, etc., then you can probably
still remain very competitive upon completion of the military and look like a valuable commodity to a department.
4. Here is the part that really needs to be considered. Are fire jobs going to be more
plentiful in 4 or so years? Hard to say - I don't think there are necessarily going to be more jobs. With budgets the way they are right now, most departments are doing their best to stay afloat and keep what they
have (as opposed to adding more staffing, stations, etc. - very few, very few communities are able to do this now and I venture that won't change in 4 or so years). That said, now is just as good as a time as any to
get hired as a firefighter.
Getting hired now will mean 4 more years of seniority. Also, if the Governor does what he wants to our pension system starting in 2007 (I know, that plan might change), anyone
hired after that date would not have the same pension that we are afforded today (and hopefully will keep until death do us part). Now, if he is successful with messing with the pensions of future firefighters, that
does open the door to mess with our current system in the future as well. Then we're all in the same boat potentially.
Another item to think about is lost money. When I say lost, I mean in 4 years as a
firefighter, you'll be making say an average of $50,000 per year without overtime or not being a medic (I know, I'm being very conservative and not taking into account total compensation). I'm just trying to pick an
easy number. I know you won't make that much in the military. Now life is not about money as much as it is happiness. In the 4 years you're a firefighter, you might be able to afford a house (assuming you don't have
one now) or at least be able to save a good amount towards a down payment. Being in the military won't allow you to do that (yes, you may get special benefits to buy a home, but I'm not an expert there).
Education wise, if you don't have your 2 year degree in fire completed (which I hope you're aspiring to do to make yourself competitive) by the time you go in, it will be tough to complete while in the military and
the requirements may even change by the time you get out.
Anyway, that's about all I can think of for now, hope it helps. Good luck in whatever path you decide on!
33. Background Investigators
The following information was posted on a firefighter bulletin board. The author is unknown. The information is not verified. Use it only food for
To those curious to know if we background investigators share information the answer is yes. It does depend on the individual agency however.
Some have strict guideline as to what
information can be shared with other investigators. Our purpose as background investigators is to gather information on a potential firefighter, "good" and "negative" information.
good aggressive background investigator will dig deep into a candidate's life and look for things to disqualify a candidate. We as background investigators want to eliminate the "BAD SEEDS" before they get
into a fire department.
This does not mean that a firefighter candidate has to lead the "Perfect Life", just don't do anything stupid to get yourself in trouble.
Remember to use
your best judgment when completing a background packet. If you do not put that you were backgrounded for another agency and the investigator finds out, you will definitely be disqualified.
Captain Bob's reply:
To my knowledge, there is no black list that would reveal if you had a background with another department and failed. However, most credit reports show who has made an inquiry on
your report. These reports aren't usually obtained by the city though, but by another company on the cities request.
I'm not sure I would list a department that I was DQ'd in background. I wouldn't
want to give them ammunition to shoot me with again. Why create the trail?
Our thanks go out to Capt Bob Smith for his article
and insight. For more information on his book, Becoming a Firefighter: The Complete Guide to Your Badge, and his entry level DVD/CD oral interview program that has helped thousands of individuals
to get the job of their dreams (included in the Ultimate Firefighter Examination Prep Package), go to our entry level fireman test products page or site map. Good luck!!
34. Background Questions:
Two years ago I had a background with LBPD. Is the LA city Fire going to be able to view my LBPD background? Do I have to tell them
about LBPD? I'm a little concerned with conflicting statements because of the time that has passed!
I'm often asked this question. To my knowledge there are no secret lists or resources agencies can
find to know whether and or when you have ever tested. This goes for the psychological test too. If you don't volunteer and create a trail, it's highly unlikely they will ever know. Besides, they're too busy and
have too little personnel to go into that depth.
"Just because you're paranoid . . . doesn't mean they're not after you."
Follow the bouncing ball:
Tom, was being considered for the hiring process in a large county department. I told him if he was going to have to take the physiological test to contact me first for
coaching. He didn't. Tom called devastated with, "What do I do now? I'm out of the process. I asked him if he had thought out his questions before he had volunteered information. He said he had not. I asked him
why he hadn't called me before the test. He said, "Things were going so great I didn't think I needed your help." What do you think now Tom?
I told Tom that we don't just concentrate on
preparing candidates for the job oral board interview. We are a resource to get candidates to the badge. We shorten the learning curve in every portion of the testing process. We provide the Secret Nugget
information for the best
book for the written test, physical agility programs, audio and video tapes from our seminars and coaching by phone on how to "Conquer the Job Interview", background checks, and yes now the all important psychological test. Tom said, "They let me shoot myself in the foot." I said, "No Tom, you shot yourself in the foot." Even golf professions get lessons to keep their game sharp.
Tom was hired by another department who didn't give a psych test. After one year, he had the opportunity to test for the department he had dreamed of working for. He came in for a tune up coaching
session and made the cut for the job pending the medical that included a psychological evaluation. He panicked. He obtained our "Special Report on Conquering the Psychological Interview". With coaching, he
realized the mistakes he made on his first interview.
As he entered the room for his interview after the written portion of the psyche test, he sat in one of five possible chairs directly across from
the psychologist. He put on his game face. The doctor had him fill out a personal family history and release forms for other information. He asked him if he would be willing to take a polygraph based on his
information. Some psychologists will do this to intimidate you into giving information you do not have to share.
No matter what you sign, understand if it was not listed that a polygraph will be part of
the hiring process, they can't demand that you take one. Especially if everyone else is not going to take one. Just go along with the drill.
Tom was honest to a fault in this first psych interview. Like
most firefighter candidates, they want this job so bad, they will tell the psychologist anything they want to know. Big ERROR!
He knew now not to volunteer any information that would be ammunition to
shoot him with. He didn't list or say anything about his crazy family of origin, questions like "any of your parents have a major illness", or toss out anything that could allow the interviewer to get his
foot in the door to again take him out. There are no halos over fire engines, but you had better be squeaky clean.
All the psychologist is trying to determine is the profile that is created by written
test. Tom's interview was short this time. This concerned him.
Tom is 36 years old. He called that he passed the psych test and just accepted the job for the city he thought would never come his way.
His extended family had rushed over while he was talking to me on the phone. I could hear the champagne corks popping. Tom was crying like a baby. So was I.
It doesn't get much better than this.
Ask Tom if it's worth it to do it the proven way.
Our thanks go out to Capt Bob Smith for his article and insight. For more information on his book, Becoming a Firefighter:
The Complete Guide to Your Badge, and his entry level DVD/CD oral interview program that has helped thousands of individuals to get the job of their dreams (included in the Ultimate Firefighter Examination
Prep Package), go to our entry level fireman test products page or site map. Good luck!!
35. Credit checks during background checks
Credit Checks - Background
Credit is just one of the areas you're evaluated on in background, like your driving record,
drug use, medical, etc.
It's often not the problem but how you write out an explanation for the background. Most candidates turn themselves inside out when a simple explanation is often all that is needed to
resolve most of the situations.
You're in the hiring process. Let's take it one step at a time. The badge is there. There is only one person keeping you from getting it . . . It's YOU!
"Some times I
think my mind would kill me if it didn't need me for transportation."
It's not the items of concern, but the when and why. Like most candidates that enter the hiring process, they get hyper vigilant and the
voices of panic and guilt start running around in their heads.
For other problems and misdemeanors, has the problem happened since?
Was this a financial problem? When did these incidents happen? If it
was a financial problem, what was your financial situation then? Are the accounts current now? Of course the best course of action is to maintain a good credit rating.
A divorce can cause havoc in many areas
of your life. The goal is to be able to demonstrate a plan that you have it under control to be resolved. Having 3 accounts still in trouble will not look good.
You see the chief doesn't want a collection agency
showing up at the station or attaching your wages. Declaring bankruptcy can create more problems.
Certainly an unexpected job loss is a reasonable explanation of why your credit went south.
candidates live on a shoestring trying to gain the education and experience to get this job. A couple of 60 days late can be explained if you were between jobs.
One of my candidates had some outstanding
bills. In his current background check he told the investigator told how he was resolving the problem. The investigator told him if he cleared them, he could go forward in the process. He did. He went forward in the
Another candidates credit was not good, but his explanation was he wife had returned to college for her teaching degree. She had recently graduated, got a good paying job and the turn around
had been made.
Question: I have a background check in the future. I do not have a criminal record nor have I gotten a ticket for the last eight years. I did have a credit card company cancel my account due
to late payments. This debt was passed over to a credit collection agency which I paid. I also have some late payments with my health insurance. Living in the Silicon Valley can hit your pockets hard ya know what
I'm sayin!!! Does this hurt me in any way???
Reply: Again, you know the background is coming up at some time. You want to know what your credit report says about you. More than 30% of credit reports have
errors. A recent check on mine revealed addresses I have never lived at, wrong birthday, job experience and some of my sons credit.
Health insurance payments do not show up on credit reports. The best way to
find out about your credit is request a free copy from one of the 3 major credit bureaus. Here are the bureaus:
Equifax Credit Information Services
Atlanta, GA 30348
Phone: 877-463-5505 (for Credit Report orders) Phone (800) 685-5000
Allen, TX 75013-0949
Phone: 888-397-3742 (for Credit Report orders)
Phone (800) 583-4080 (for disputes)
Trans Union Corporation (TUC)
P.O. Box 1000, Chester PA 19022
Phone: (800) 888-4213 (for Credit Report orders)
Phone (800) 916-8800 (for disputes)
there is anything on your report that is not right, you can dispute it. The disputed company has 30 days to respond. If they don't, they will take it off. Many don't respond. If you still have a problem with an
item, you can add a 100 word statement explaining why to your credit report.
Mailing in your application, background info, etc.
Ok – You're testing for a FD. And you need to mail them anything in a timely manner (application, background info., certs, etc..)
Anytime you send something in
the mail, you need to use a zip code, right? Here is the secret the post office wish more people knew...
All 5 digit zip codes have a four digit extension that goes on the end. That's right and it takes the
post office longer to process your outgoing and incoming mail without it. They have to stop, look it up, punch in the full code, mark it on the letter, then process.
Example- Typical zip code-
"91234". With the plus four - 91234-4389. The last four numbers breaks down your street and even what side of the street the mail is to go to.
Basically, it stream lines the process down to the
wire. So just by adding those last 4 numbers, your mail (application) will move faster and less likely to get lost. (And we don't want that.)
36. Preliminary Background Questionnaire
So you take an on-line Preliminary Background Questionnaire (PBQ) and when you try to continue it flashes PERMANENT DISQUALIFICATION!
or, There Could Be a Delay in Your Background. What happened?
Well, you probably answered correctly or incorrectly yes to a question that had a threshold that was an automatic disqualification. You
still might not be out of the woods on some of your answers. They could come back to haunt you later in the process. Make sure you go back and double check your answers. You would be surprised what percentages of
candidates are being disqualified from this process.
The Preliminary Background Questionnaire is designed to eliminate candidates early on in the hiring process before they spend lots of time and money
on those who they would tank later.
There is no question that candidates should lead their lives as if their future consideration of being hired as a firefighter depended upon it. This is not the
first department to include in the background packet that a poly may be used to verify the information you submit.
I get calls on a regular basis from candidates that say the background packed and or
investigator told them a poly would be given to verify their information. My first question, "Was it listed on the job announcement that there was going to be a poly?" No. If it was not included in the job
announcement and or they are going to give a poly to everyone else, that would be tough to do. It's not uncommon for a background investigator or psychologist to say, "Will you submit to a poly to verify your
answers? Or, a poly could or will be given at the end of the process." As of today I'm not aware of any test where the candidates were held hostage with the threat of a poly being given, when it was not
included with the job announcement, and they had to take one. Not one. I know of candidates who were turned down and wanted to take a poly to prove they were telling the truth and they couldn't get one because they
would have to give it to everyone else. Pinocchio why is your nose is getting longer.
So where's the threshold? Did you answer yes to a question on drug use? How many times? Answer yes to a question on how many times you had drank more than the legal
limit and drive?
So what do you do?
you're experience. Before you submit future on-line or hand out printed forms double check your answers for errors and think twice before you step on any land mines that could take you out of the process.
What others are doing?
I finally figured out that if I
listed those things that happened in my life a long time ago I could be eliminated from the process. I asked myself if I didn't tell them, how would they find out? Steve
This PBQ nailed me the first
time I answered yes that I tried cocaine 3 times 20 years ago. I didn't have a chance to give an explanation as I have had sitting down with a background investigator. Dennis
Last test I filled out
the Preliminary Background hand out. I answered yes to the question have you ever had sex with a minor. I was rejected, even though I wrote a half page explanation that I was 18 in high school and my girlfriend
was 17. Thinking about it now how would that ever find this out? I'm now 27, no longer live in that state, and have no idea what happened to my girl friend. I can't imagine how they would find her and if they did
can't imagine she would tell them out of the blue we had sex when she was at age 17. Andy
Why did I tell them I smoked pot 20 times 10 years ago in England? We're they going to fly over there and find
my old friends? Dan
Captain Bob I really enjoy receiving your emails and am looking forward to the LA City application process. My question for you is in regards to the "Bad Stuff on
Applications." I have your book and other materials in which it states, "Do not open a can of worms." However, in this email it states that "If you do not include information that is asked on
an application and it is found out later, you are out of the process!" Which is the correct way to go?
For instance, I got into a fight as a youth (17 years old) protecting my brother and had to
go to court where I was found not guilty and had to perform community service. Since it was almost 10 years ago and I was a minor, is this something I should disclose on the application? That is the only instance
where I have any possible mark on my record, including traffic citations (or lack of). Thank you in advance for your time, Rob
Although juvenile records for minors are generally sealed, the question
asked if you ever; yes or no? I would put it down. If you put no and it is revealed later, you could be out of the process. This is something that should have no affect on you being hired by a department.
What is most important is that you have a reasonable explanation of what happened and the court found you not guilty.
Which is the correct way to go?
Both are covered in the book.
First of all what I was referring to is if there is no trail, in other words who can they talk to who would know this information? If there was an arrest, a court appearance and community time there is probably a
record of that somewhere. Then why open a can of worms by creating one. Volunteering information that was not requested eliminates way too many candidates.
As one candidate wrote: As for
Backgrounds, they tell you to be honest. But sometimes being honest can bite you in the ass. When a Background is being conducted the only obvious things they could find out are things like your driving, criminal
and credit history. Don't be stupid and write down references that hate you. I've known some good people that should be fireman/cops but get disqualified for being too honest.
You're a free agent. Make sure
you prepare for the hiring process in a way that will best put you in a position for a badge. Steve
I can't tell you what to do. I present the facts and you get to decide.
Our thanks go
out to Capt Bob Smith for his article and insight. For more information on his book, Becoming a Firefighter: The Complete Guide to Your Badge, and his entry level DVD/CD oral interview program
that has helped thousands of individuals to get the job of their dreams (included in the Ultimate Firefighter Examination Prep Package), go to our entry level fireman test products page or site map. Good
37. Beware of the Questionnaire!
When you take the written portion of the psychological test, it sets up a profile. Then interview with the psychologist is to verify
the profile and match it to the desired profile to be a firefighter. The wheels can start coming off your wagon during this interview.
Before the interview, the psychologist will often have you fill out
a personal family history and additional information form. He can use this information as ammunition to shoot you with. Ironically, the psychologist doesn't always have your background information, or because of
time doesn't look at all the information. He relies on the form you fill out. This is why it is so critical that although you want this job so bad, not to create trails where you don't have to.
Unfortunately, if you have a DUI or other mark that can be found you have to put it down. At that point you want to work on a reasonable explanation of what happened, what changed your behavior and who you are now.
Practice this explanation with a tape recorder until you have it condensed.
If you have a DUI, it will be a challenge but not impossible to get a fire job. Many psychologists look at any possible
addiction to interfere with the pressures of the job. One of our candidates went through drug rehab 5 years ago. Using the above paragraph formula, he passed both the psychological, poly and was hired in Colorado.
If you occasionally drink alcohol and got drunk on your birthday and at a barbecue last summer is one thing. But if you're getting hammered a couple nights a week and on weekends will raise some
questions. Please think first if the doctor asks the question how many drinks would you have at a party and still drive home. Anyone who might answer maybe two could send a message that they will drink and drive. No
department wants their firefighters being nailed on drunk driving charges. Responsible people arrange for a designated driver
Our thanks go out to Capt Bob Smith for his article and insight. For
more information on his book, Becoming a Firefighter: The Complete Guide to Your Badge, and his entry level DVD/CD oral interview program that has helped thousands of individuals to get the job of their
dreams (included in the Ultimate Firefighter Examination Prep Package), go to our entry level fireman test products page or site map. Good luck!!
38. Are Corrective lenses allowed?
Are corrective lenses allowed? I have very mild nearsightedness. I have been wearing contacts for 8 years without any problems. Would
I need to get corrective surgery? I have been thinking about it but I am not eligible yet because I am not 25. LAFD says you need 20/40 in the better eye.
Is that with corrected lenses or without?
The NFPA recommendation (NFPA 1001.
Specifically, look at 2-2.7.1 "Eyes") was 20/30 corrected and 20/100 uncorrected but it does get waived with soft contacts. Also FYI they did change this recommendation to 20/40 last year so you should be
ok. If you have any questions check with NFPA. Also the dept. has to right to set whatever standard they want like some have 20/20 and that's it but most follow NFPA's recommendation.
These questions below were posted on the PFF Bulletin with the following responses. You can check out more information concerning eye surgery on the
Food and Drug Administration web site @ www.fda.gov/CDRH/LASIK
If you're considering eye surgery you should know that more than 5% of patients have problems with night vision, results that don't last and vision worse
than before the surgery.www.surgicaleyes.com put up by a firefighter who had the surgery then had to quit because his eyesight fell before safety standards.
You need to check out the web site
What are the current attitudes regarding corneal
surgery to correct poor vision? My eyes suck, to speak plainly. I'm considering getting laser eye surgery to correct the problem. Do departments consider that "corrected" eyesight? As in, "Candidate
must have no worse than 20/70 vision, uncorrected, in either eye."
In general, do departments consider eyes modified by corneal surgery "corrected" or "uncorrected?" Have any
trends been noticed?
I'm just looking for how departments are tending to receive candidates who have had the surgery.
Subject: Corneal surgery
I can't speak for the fire service generally but I can tell you about my cities' attitude on this subject. As a member of my locals' negotiating, team I participated in
securing an eye surgery benefit as part of our last package.
The city agreed that good vision is an important safety issue and that turnout times, (particularly at night) could be enhanced by less
reliance on lenses. On that basis they agreed to pay 80% of the cost of corrective surgery for the employee only.
My personal opinion is go for it. I had RK seven years ago and
it was the best money I've ever spent (Lasik wasn't an option then). Another FF on my dept. had the same surgery just after I did. Much later a FF had lasik.
My depts. position on anything of this
nature is as long as the doc clears you to come back to work there is no problem. I personally always had concerns about contacts, I felt that I didn't want to put a piece of plastic on my cornea, go interior on
something and even have the possibility of having it permanently fused to my eyes.
Beyond the job, just the change it makes in day-to-day living is worth it.
Subject: laser surgery
I can't comment on what stand a department may have on surgically corrected vision but I can comment on my own experience. I had Lasix last fall, I was like 20/200 before the
procedure, I am now 20/15 in my right eye and 20/18 in my left. It was the best $3200 I ever spent. I would recommend it to anyone.
Signed Seeing Well
Subject: Lasik procedure
I had Lasik in June of last year, and it took like charm. I was 20/100 in one eye and 20/150 in the other. Now I am 20/20 in both, best 3600 bucks I spent. No departments have
had any problems with my surgery just as long as it was longer than 6 months ago to prove the procedure took.
I was never dqed in any processes, they just told me to come back for re-evaluation at 6
months past surgery, and I still passed at that time too.
Subject: go for it!
There were two guys in my academy (paid-new hires) who had
their eyes done. The stipulation was they had to be 6 mo post op. to make sure the correction took. i.e. the lens didn't loose shape after laser surgery. Good luck with your pursuit.
Subject: Lasik Surgery
I had both of my eyes done on 11/15/99. Both eyes were -11.5 which I believe is the equivalent of 20/1150. Lasik usually isn't performed on eyes worse than -12
You could say I was an extreme case. The day after the surgery I had 20/30 vision in both eyes and subsequently have improved to 20/25 in each eye. I couldn't be happier -cost: $3,900. I'd
certainly recommend it but would encourage individuals to read up on it, research it and definitely check out more than one doctor who performs the surgery. Good Luck!
Our thanks go out to Capt Bob Smith for his article and insight. For more information on his book, Becoming a Firefighter: The Complete Guide to Your Badge
, and his entry level DVD/CD oral interview program that has helped thousands of individuals to get the job of their dreams (included in the Ultimate Firefighter Examination Prep Package), go to our entry level
fireman test products page or site map. Good luck!!
40. Not a Regular Job Interview!
Many regular job and
corporate interview candidates like the following are stunned and baffled why they don't have high scores on their firefighter interviews.
I just received my oral board score for the City of
Glendale. The score did not represent how I felt I did during the interview. This is a big problem for me because I now realize that I DON'T KNOW what the board was looking for. I make presentations for a living,
so I felt confident in what I did to prepare. I was sure that I just about nailed it. I've always been competitive about what I set out to accomplish, using every tool that I can utilize to reach my goal. Sir, I
would greatly appreciate your training to help me be the best that I can be at the oral boards.
I've been preparing for these orals for months and felt extremely prepared. I don't want to waste another
oral board without knowing that I've done all that I can to be the best candidate possible. Thank you for your time Sir.
Regards, Fire Recruit Jeff
After my interview
rejection an east coast city last week, I sent a letter to the D/C thanking him for the opportunity and telling him I'd appreciate any feedback from the interview. Well - he was honest - he indicated he wanted me to
keep testing & interviewing, but wrote that I:
-talked too much & over answered the questions
-talked too fast
-some of my answers were based on book knowledge (?)
Also - as I mentioned
I approached this like I would a corporate interview (BAD IDEA) and I tried to 'close' them at the end - they asked if I had any closing questions (jeez I wish I read your web site before going in) and I opened my
big stupid mouth to say 'I kept your rejection letter from last year (I actually showed it to them - this was my second time interviewing) and it mentioned that candidates had failed to prepare and properly sell
themselves to the board. I've been working to improve myself in these areas for the past year - have I properly done this?'
The D/C mentioned in his letter back to me that, 'I don't think that showing the
letter I mailed out last time was the best thing you could have done. It was as if you were showing it off and showing us that you still had it.' I need to keep my d*mn mouth shut and just answer the questions. Live
and learn. I look forward to getting your package. Stay safe Dave
Reply: You're not alone here. You have discovered like many other's that a fire department oral board is different than anything you have
encountered. Too many candidates beat their heads against the wall for years getting to the point where you are now.
Our thanks go out to Capt Bob Smith for his article and insight.
For more information on his book, Becoming a Firefighter: The Complete Guide to Your Badge, and his entry level DVD/CD oral interview program that has helped thousands of individuals to get the job of
their dreams (included in the Ultimate Firefighter Examination Prep Package), go to our entry level fireman test products page or site map. Good luck!!