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September 2, 2009

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1. Fire Prep Topics of Interest –

    • What Have You Done to Prepare for the Oral Interview?
    • CPAT Station Difficulty

2. Entry Level Exam Prep


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    1. Fire Prep Topics of Interest –

    What Have You Done To Prepare For The Oral Interview?

Ben wrote:  I have recently been granted an interview for a fire department and have a couple quick questions for you.  I have your CD's.  Is  the question "What are you bringing to the job?" similar to "What have you done to prepare for this position?"  Should I rhyme off qualifications, and/or education/experience?   I'm not sure what the board would be looking for.

Reply: Have you tried practicing with a tape recorder to work it out?  These are different questions.  What are you bringing to the job is your education, experience, ability and integrity.

What have you done to prepare:

Try this:  Start with your education and keep it in chronological order.  Then your experience in order.  End with those things you can tie your name to.  Things where you were part of a team took something from inception to end or were part of a committee that established a procedure or skill.

Ben: With regards to the question "Have you ever been in an emergency situation? Tell us what you did?"  Is it alright to use an example from a student co-op work term I had with a fire department or should it be from an everyday scenario; the reason I am asking is because I am only 22 years old and I don't want to seem too "green".

Reply: Yes, who else can tell those stories?  As long as you can present your package at the oral board, age should not be an issue. The problem is many younger candidates don't think they have the life experience needed. First you never tell the board your age.

I gave a presentation at a Fire College. Many students didn't feel they had any experience that would apply to the position. That was until I asked several candidates to tell me about their first and succeeding jobs in life; no matter how menial it seemed. Many had paper routes, mowing lawns and working at Burger King. O.K., what did you learn?

Once the answers started flowing, we heard how they learned to work hard, have responsibility, learn customer service and how to work as a team. Did you participate in sports in school? Were you team captain?  Isn't that working as a team? Do any of these areas apply to the fire service? You bet! So any time you can relate your personal life experience in answering an oral board question, you are telling the oral board that you not only know the answer the question, you have already lived it!

When the board asks what you have done to prepare for the position, don't forget to rewind the videotape of your life and create an early trail of how you learned how to work hard, have responsibility, and work as a team.

The biggest part of getting a high enough oral board score that will get you the badge is convincing the oral board you can do the job before you get it. Stories are convincing evidence that you are the match for the badge!

Thanks to Capt Bob Smith, Entry-Level Author and Speaker, for his great insight into the oral interview process.  Additional information on Capt Bob's CD/DVD Oral Interview Program can be found at the link below:

CPAT Station Difficulty

Question:  What would you consider the hardest of all the CPAT stations? My cardio was never the best but I think that it is ok now. My upper body strength is improving. I am still worried about the test. Any help?

Response:  The ceiling breach and pull seems to be one of the hardest of all the CPAT because you are so tired. Prepare for this by, at the end of your workout, when you are good and tired, super-set these without resting:

Use a rope handle. This will force you to work your grip strength. Sit on the floor in front of a tricep pulley machine. Do one handed lat pulls. Do 20 reps on the right, and 20 on the left. Explode down from the top, and lower the weight slowly (3 count). Start with 60 lbs. work up in 10 lb increments each set.

Stand up immediately when you are done, and use a dumbbell to do the following: bicep upper cuts: Start with the elbow bent in front, as in the low point of the breach and pull. Thrust up until your elbow is just about straight, not hyper extended. Lower on a count of 3. Do 20 reps. Go to the other arm, repeat. Start with 20 lbs, move up to 25.

Go back to the one armed lat pulls. Repeat this circuit 3 times at first, then work up to 6 circuits.

It really works.

Another Answer:

Some say the hardest is the step mill/weight vest. They have a good point. It also the simplest to prepare for. Do this 2 times per week:

Warm up first. Get a vest. Start with 30 lbs, 2 minutes, stepping at 60 steps per minute. Increase by 5 lbs. and 30 seconds every week until you reach 70 lbs for 10 minutes. You could do upper body big exercises the other 2 days, plus weighted squats and lunges (both deep, to 90 degrees at hips and knees). Do abs every day. Rest the other 3 days, and be ready very quickly.

Another Answer:

Cardio UP!!! The secret to passing the CPAT is to be in shape with a high cardiovascular fitness level and to know the techniques. The average time is between nine minutes and ten minutes, twenty seconds. Try to think of the CPAT (or any agility) as a marathon where you are trying to complete the event instead of going for the record time. You can burn out if you are going for time no matter how well in shape you are.

Most people who fail the CPAT fail the first event (Stair Climb/Stair Stepper), or run out of time during the last event (Ceiling Breach). People who run out of time at the breach and pull lost a few seconds at all the prior event stations because they PAUSED to THINK of how to do the event or PAUSED or SLOWED down to catch their breath.

#1 Stair Climb: No matter how hard you train for the stair stepper, your legs are going to be like rubber after you get off the machine and start pulling hose. The recovery time for rubber legs depends on your fitness. Even still, rubber legs or not, you have to get moving and keep moving, and stay moving! If you stop at anytime during the events, the clock is ticking and you are losing time.

The tendency is that as you start wearing down on the stair stepper machine, your pace and stride will change and that will affect your balance. As you lose your balance, you start to wobble and the momentum of the weight on your body increases the swaying. As the distance of the sway increases, you will make a natural grab for the handrails. Grab the rail (more than twice?) too many times and you are disqualified. Instead of "grabbing the rail", use the back of your hand and push your self back. Adjusting your stance and concentrating will help you avoid the "wobble". Just like wearing a SCBA, you also have to concentrate on your breathing.

Thanks to Dr. Jen Milus, author of Fire It Up!, for her great insight into the physical agility testing process.  Additional information on physical agility can be found at the link below:


14-day FREE email series!

If you want to start getting that competitive edge immediately over your competition, our 14-day FREE e-mail series covers the written, psychological, oral interview and physical agility. This e-mail series will guide you step by step through the maze of the testing process to help you shorten that learning curve between you and that coveted badge. As soon as you sign-up you will receive the first e-mail with important inside secrets. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!!


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"Hello my name is Drew L. After taking a couple civil service tests in Ohio and not scoring as high as I would have liked I ordered your exam prep package. I found the information in the Ultimate Package to be extremely helpful in all aspects of the testing/hiring process. I studied the information in all the books and CD's and used the insight on the next test I took. During the test I found myself to be more confident and relaxed. When I received my results I couldn't believe my eyes, I had scored in the top 5 percent! A couple weeks after getting my written results I was called in for the oral board interview and was ranked number 1! I strongly believe it was the information and insight presented in the Ultimate Package that gave me the upper edge on the competition. I am proud to say today I received my appointment letter from the mayor and am the only FF out of 200 being sworn in next Thursday! You were right; the small investment I made ordering the Ultimate package will be paid off in my first few hours working the job of my dreams! Again THANK YOU! I strongly encourage anyone interested in becoming a firefighter to order your products; they give the advantage needed in the most competitive job market out there today.

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Oral Interview Exam Preparation  

The Number # 1 Selling Oral Interview Prep Program In The Country!!

"Well, I never thought I would be writing this to you, Captain Bob, but it happened to me also.  Just like all those successful stories you have posted, I am another proof that your nuggets work.  I just went yesterday to the Austin Oral Board Interview and I did amazing. Out of a possible 120 pts, I scored 119.87 pts!  I couldn't believe it!  I went in there and it was Show Time.  I personalized my answers. Even one of the panel members went outside to tell me I did really well and shook my hand. And another firefighter said that my score was the highest he had seen. Just wanted to say THANK YOU!" Armando


Go to the link below to Review Capt. Bob's Oral Interview DVD/CD program


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Firefighter Applicants Frequently Asked Questions and Answers! 

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"Capt. Bob – thank you a thousand times over! I finally got the call on July 21st and start recruit school on September 7th! I know that I owe it all to your program. With it, I didn't give any clones answers and ended up number one on the hiring list. That is more proof that your program really works. I know I was giving clone answers until I got your product. With it, I saw the mistakes, corrected them, and nailed my interview. Thank you again!" Michael C.

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