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The Doldrums

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  • The Doldrums

    The doldrums are a term used by sailors to describe a period without wind. Along the equator, during certain times of the year it is hot and there can be little or no wind. The doldrums could trap a ship and its sailors for weeks without a breath of wind. Stories abound telling of ships where the whole crew went crazy and the ghost ship is still sailing the seas. Other ships would use this time to make repairs, fix sails, paint and treat the wood, as well as have fun swimming or just relaxing.

    Testing can be an overwhelming lifestyle. A lot of departments seem to test about the same time during the year. So all of a sudden you have all of the tests you want to take and they are at the same time, or so close it is almost impossible to prepare for. On top of that there are all of the other things that go on, you know life. You have to pay the bills, keep a job, and keep your grades up, not to mention that person always telling you that you don’t spend enough time with them. You just can’t wait for the day you get your first “four-day”.

    But there are also times when the doldrums set in. No one is testing; things are good at work and at home. You may have a break between classes. Things posted last week are still on the front page of the Firehouse web site. That is the time for you to be repairing the sails. Those old ship captains wouldn’t just get one set of sails ready, they wanted plenty of backup. The area of the oceans were the doldrums happen is also where hurricanes originate. Things could go from nothing to something big in a hurry.

    So in your time that you aren’t stretched too thin, make sure you are at least maintaining your testing abilities, if not improving them.

    If you can pass the physical with no problem, get better. If you have some sort of injury before your next test and are only up to 85%, you are sure going to hope you were over prepared.

    If you are doing well at the written tests, get better. A 94% is great, but if you can find a department that weighs the written, or they only take the top 30 people, 96% might not be enough. Instead of the last minute cramming, do a page a day, that way you can remember the stuff and it will be in your long-term memory.

    With oral interviews being a major part of your score, if not the whole ball of wax, you need to get good at answering the questions. If you could see the actors for a sitcom doing the first read through for that week’s episode you may not recognize them. They are sounding out words, trying to follow the plot while they read, and listen to the others do the same. But after they have the time to memorize their lines, make them their own, and become familiar with them they can have fun. Believe it or not you can have fun in an interview. When you can go into an interview and know that you have well thought out, well-rehearsed answers that you couldn’t forget if you wanted, then you can go in and be you, not nervous guy #345. Being you in the interview is what gets you the job.

    Some ways to improve your skills are of course to have an answer put together for those most asked questions, but also to practice the situational. Have friends or family that will shoot questions at you out of the blue will help you think on your feet. I have known a few ambulance crews that got hired about the same time, because they spent all of that down time working on their oral skills.

    Imagine going into you next test and knowing you are so over prepared for the written, and the physical, and when the oral interview comes you feel like a kid on Christmas. This is a huge task if you test is this month, but if you do a little each day, imagine how prepared you would be come November.

    Don’t think I am saying not to enjoy the down time. Recharging the batteries is very important for your health and wellbeing. I want you to be able to stop and smell the roses, but wouldn’t it be nice if they were growing in the yard of the house you just bought.

    Good Luck, Captain Rob

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    Good Luck, Capt Rob

  • #2
    The letter Commeth

    See it all the time. Then you will hear from candidates that they sprung the oral on them. They got the letter and need to get ready. They often panic. Post messages on this forum asking about what questions might be used or how to get ready. But as Rob has said in previous postings, "You knew there was an oral board in your future when you turned in the application. You just didn't know when. When just showed up and caught you flat footed."

    "Captain Bob"
    Last edited by CaptBob; 09-25-2006, 04:24 PM.

    "Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

    More Tips on getting hired and promoted by Firehouse Contributing Author Fire “Captain Bob” Articles here:

    Fire "Captain Bob"



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