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Topic 1:  Oral Board Skills:  First Impressions

Topic 2:  Credit Score entry-level newsletter is about YOU BEING THE BEST - THE BEST PREPARED AND BEST INFORMED! 

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December, 2013

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1. Topic 1:  Oral Board Skills:  First Impressions

2. Topic 2:  Credit Score

3. 2014 City of Cleveland Entry-Level Exam Prep

4. Firefighter Job Openings Across the Country

5. Entry-Level Exam Prep


1. Topic 1:  Oral Board Skills:  First Impressions

What's the first impression the job panel has of you? Your physical appearance, yes. What else? Your choice of words, what you're wearing, eye contact, and your hand shake are all important. You probably missed the most important point!

Your application and resume before you walk in the room! I can't tell you how many times we've seen applications with misspelled words, horrible spelling, chronological order wrong, and we haven't even seen the candidate.

Most resumes are poorly done. The business resume format is not the best for firefighter candidates. That's because with the high volume of candidates, the raters only have a few moments to look at resumes before you walk into the room.

I'm a one-page resume guy for entry level; without a cover letter. Do not give us a book. We will not read it. The board does not have enough time. And do not come into my interview, any interview, thinking you are going to hand the resume to us and we're going to read it then. That is not going to happen. Often candidates will come in, they will try to hand out resumes. This upsets the normal flow of the interview. We're going to read it before you come in the room. If you can submit a resume, get it to personnel to be placed in your file before the interview. Don't fax It. Make the appropriate copies and hand deliver or FedEx them.

A candidate faxed me his resume for review. The cover letter for the position he was applying for stated, "Attached is a "brief" description of my qualifications." I laughed out loud because he had sent me a book. The printer ran out of paper. Save a tree, the raters will not read these volumes. Don't make me send out a search party or go on a treasure hunt to find your great stuff. Hit me with your major qualifications, starting with your experience, on one page. Write it believing the raters won't go past the first page. I don't recommend you put it in a folder. If you still insist putting your resume in a folder, don't cover up the first page with a title page. You can put any supporting details, documents, certificates and letters of recommendation following the first page. Keep it simple.

On a chief's oral you can add more to your resume for education and letters of recommendation. But don't forget to still put the important stuff on the first page, because that's what the raters are going to be looking for.

On the first page of your resume, many people start with their education. For me, I like to have experience jump right off the page. Hit me with experience, bam. Fire fighting, bam. Some kind of training, apparatus operator training, fire school, whatever it is. Hit me with that experience. And that doesn't necessarily have to be in chronological order or fire service experience. So many of the resumes I see, way down at the bottom of the first page, I find the important stuff, because that's how it falls in chronological order. It starts with some education up here, some college, whatever, blah blah, experience, now we're down at the bottom of the page where I might not see it.

I was reviewing a candidate's resume and in chronological order his paramedic certification was at the bottom of the page. I asked him, "What were the most important items on his resume? He said, my firefighter 1 and paramedic certification." They were at the bottom of the page where they might be missed. We put those items on top, so those are the first things that hit you. We put the dates on the right side of the page where it can be referenced. Once you put the dates on the right-hand side of the page, you list your experience in order of importance; not chronological order.

This makes a big difference.

My suggestion for a firefighter resume format:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number and e-mail address
  • Experience:
  • Education:
  • Volunteer and community service

That's all you need. Nothing more, nothing less. Keep it simple.

If you have the opportunity to get that application ahead of time, take it and make a photocopy of it. Then plug in the information. Have a qualified person correct it.

When my son was trying to get on the fire department, he had his mom do that. She is a good speller, and a good typist. Put everything down. Then you've got something that you can transfer to the real application, and that becomes boilerplate. Then you can use it any time you have a new application.

Many applications now are computer generated. They are difficult to type your information into the limited space. These applications can be scanned into a computer where you can easily fill them in.

Make a photocopy because you never know when you're going to that job interview. I talk to people who have put in applications, and six to eight months later, they don't have a copy and don't remember what they've put down.


2. Topic 2:  Credit Score

You've moved along in the process.  You've done well on the written and the physical agility.  You are coming to the interview process.  Most fire departments these days do a very thorough background check.  Part of that background check is going to be your credit score.  What does your credit score reflect about you when you get to that most important part of the interview process?

In the eyes of the chiefs and officers doing the hiring, what does a low credit score show?  It shows someone who is irresponsible, not paying their bills, going in debt, and thinking that no one will ever find out.  In today's society, companies push credit cards on people.  You have to be responsible.  Having 1-3 credit cards is fine, as long as you are paying your bills on time and not building up large balances.  Chiefs doing the interviews could view a low credit score as someone who could well be irresponsible when they get on the job.  They might also view you as the kind of person that feels it's only about me and what I want no matter what the cost.  I'll figure out a way to pay it off down the road.  A lot of candidates worry about their driving record, any misdemeanors, things like that and often neglect their credit score as something that couldn't possibly influence their hiring.   Well, you're wrong.  Again, credit scores these days are playing a big part in the hiring process.  Most certainly, chiefs may shy away from someone with credit score baggage.

The background investigators will take into consideration whether or not your debt is for college loans to further your education.  They might feel that is a reasonable amount of liability.  But you still need to be paying back your loans on time.

The bottom line is this – keep yourself out of the numerous credit card trap, pay your debts in a timely manner, and keep your balances low.

The following is the government agency that can be used to check your credit report online:  Your credit report could be inaccurate and falsely reflecting a poor rating.  If you see false information, you can take steps to correct the report.


How to Become a Firefighter…the #1 ranked site on the internet on how to become a firefighter!


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For those of you looking for an EMT/Paramedic/Firefighter school, go to the link below:


Past Newsletters!

If you would like to review our past newsletters, go to the link below or visit or and click on "Past Newsletters." =========================================

3. 2014 City of Cleveland Entry-Level Exam Prep

The City of Cleveland will be conducting an Entry-Level Firefighter Exam on March 1, 2014.  Click on the link below for additional information:


2014 San Antonio Firefighter Exam Interest List

For those of you interested in taking the 2014 San Antonio, TX, Firefighter Exam, go to the link below to fill out a Candidate Interest Card.  By filling out this card, you will be notified by mail when the exam will be conducted and application details.  This exam is given annually and is anticipated to be given early next spring.


2014 Columbus Firefighter Exam Interest List

The City of Columbus has a mailing list to inform you when their next exam is being held.  The City of Columbus does not give extra points for residency, only 5 points given for military credit.  Columbus usually hires between 100-200 firefighters from their eligibility list.  Go to the link below to add your name to this mailing list.


Go to the link below to review the Top 150 Fire Departments in the country!


4. Firefighter Job Openings Across the Country, in conjunction with, brings the following job announcements for your review.  Since 1996, has been providing its members with the most comprehensive and accurate firefighter employment information available. We list complete hiring information and provide links to the Departments' websites and local area.

Every time we post a new listing, we verify the information and verify links to the department. We search newspapers all over the nation daily to provide you with the most current job listings available.

We also provide links to the city in which the department is located. This helps those who are interested in moving to another location to find out about the area. With this tool, you can check out housing, schools, cost of living and even entertainment options before you move anywhere. 

Firefighter Job Openings:

Redding, CA

Warren, OH

Orlando, FL

Jacksonville, FL

Colorado Springs, CO

Fairfax County, VA

Redding Fire Department
1050 Parkview Ave
Redding, CA 96001

Shasta County

530-225-4322 - fax

Position:  Firefighter

Last Filing Date:  December 30, 2013

City of Redding, Personnel Department
777 Cypress Avenue
Redding, CA 96001


Warren Fire Department
111 South Street SE
Warren, OH 44483

Trumbull County

330-841-2553 - fax

Position:  Firefighter

Filing Dates:  January 6-10, 2014

Champion Township Trustees
Attn: Peggy Mercer, Fiscal Officer
299 Airport Road
Warren, OH 44481


Orlando Fire Department
400 South Orange Avenue
PO Box 4990
Orlando, FL 32801

Orange County

407-246-2512 - fax

Position:  Firefighter

Last Filling Date:  December 6, 2013

Apply online


Jacksonville Fire Rescue Dept
107 N Market Street
Jacksonville, FL 32202

Duval County

904-630-2651 - fax

Position:  Firefighter

Last Filing Date:  December 15, 2013

City of Jacksonville, Human Resources Department
117 West Duval Street, Suite 100
Jacksonville, FL 32202


Colorado Springs Fire Department
31 S Weber Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903

El Paso County

719-578-6027 - fax

Position:  Entry-Level Firefighter

Filing Dates:  November 24-December 16, 2013

Colorado Springs Fire Department
375 Printers Parkway
Colorado Springs, CO 80910


Fairfax Co Fire Rescue
4100 Chain Bridge Road 7th Flr
Fairfax, VA 22030

Independent City County

703-273-4830 - fax

Position:  Firefighter/Medic

Last Filing Date:  January 17, 2014

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department
Recruitment Section
4100 Chain Bridge Road, 6th Floor
Fairfax, VA 22030


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5. Entry-Level Exam Prep

Since 1950, Don McNea Fire School's entry-level products and seminars have helped over 40,000 fire applicants attain that ultimate edge.  It's about you being the best – the best prepared and best informed.

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How to Become a Firefighter…the most comprehensive site on the internet!


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Have you recently been hired by a department?  Do you have any questions? 

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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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