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Captain Bob

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  • Captain Bob

    All too often I hear candidates say they only want to work for a particular department or in a certain area. Even if they took a test outside their area of interest, they would never work there if they were offered a job.

    Volunteers hang their hopes on one day being a paid member of their department. They hang on so long at these coastal or central valley departments they miss great opportunities. Before they realize it, they are too old, don't have the exposure or education, and their department never would have hired them in the first place.

    "Time is what happens to you if you're too busy to make plans."

    I believe you should take as many tests as you can fly, drive, beg, borrow, and grovel to get to. Because the more tests you take, the better you get at taking tests. When the department you really want to work for tests, you are ahead of the curve. Then, along with our Entry Level Program, the magic begins to happen. Often, quicker than you think.

    Troy was a medic for a rural northern California ambulance service and a volunteer. He loved his job. He always wanted to be a firefighter. Troy could never figure out why he couldn't get hired. So here is was at age 31 in a low paying position. It was time for his wife to complete her education.

    Last April Troy found our web site. He was making another attempt to become a firefighter. Troy was applying for a position as EMS coordinator for a small rural paid department with a lot of volunteers. His name was written all over this job description. He ended up number 2. They were giving the job to a member of the department with far less qualifications. He called me in May bummed out.

    I tried to encourage Troy to come out of the mountains and test for larger departments. He wasn't interested. He didn't like the big city. I told him Sac City was testing. Troy said he didn't even have enough money to go down and rent a motel to take the test. I couldn't encourage him enough to take the plunge.

    Scene two. I get a call from Troy that indeed he had gone to Sac and passed the written. I knew Troy was a good candidate. I told him to stay in touch with me and keep his hands in feet in side the ride at all times; because things were going to start going real fast. They did. He passed the oral. Bam, Bam came the conditional job offer. He received our psych report rush, e-mail. Off to the psych and medical. Guess where Troy works?

    Then this from Troy:

    Hello, Capt Bob-

    Well, it finally seems real. All the hoopla has died down, and it is
    packing time. I received my formal invitation to the Academy yesterday.
    I also submitted my written resignation. Although this is a dream come
    true, it is still a bit scary, leaving my comfort zone. Through hard
    work, my wife's support, and the Good Lord, the next 20 years will be

    Your generosity and spirit saved my career. Thank you.

    Future badge #1971, Troy

    I get emotional just reading this again.

    Here's another situation:

    I encouraged Dave to test anywhere he could, so when the department he really wanted to work for tested, he would be up to speed. He went to Colorado to take a test. He said it was just for experience. He wouldn't take the job if he passed. This was just for the experience. He passed the written. Then the oral. Only for the experience mind you. Then the background packed arrived. Might as well fill it out and keep a copy for future reference.

    Dates were set to meet with the background investigator, psych test and poly. Dave was all of a sudden a frequent flyer to Colorado. All for the experience remember. Then the call came one day from the chief of the department. A call he had been waiting for a long time. He was offered a real BADGE!

    Now, let me ask you. If you were offered a badge, could you turn it down? Another flight to Colorado. This time with his wife to see if it she would be happy there. Guess where Dave works? Aurora (sp) Colorado.

    Or, by the way, the year after Dave was hired, they sent him to medic school. He can't imagine working or living anywhere else. He just took the test for the experience.

    My son Rob and I are real fortunate. We get to be part of the changes in so many lives.

    "The secret of life is feeling you are on top of the world, whether you are or not" From the book Eat Stress For Breakfast by Fire "Captain Bob"

    This from Tom:
    Just a note to reinforce what Captain Bob has already said: Don't let what you can not do, affect what you can do. John Wooden (Retired Coach UCLA with the best win/loss record in college basketball) Nice and simple here folks.........Test.....Test....Test and test some more where ever and when ever you can!
    And just for a little tap on your Frontal cortex........Failure to prepare is preparing to fail. Best wishes

    A note from T-bone:

    Wow...Capt. Bob is so 100% correct. Too many times I have seen guys become volunteers or PCF with a department, then just ASSUME now that the gravy train is coming to their door.

    It doesnt always work like that...

    Follow up:

    Capt. Bob,
    I can really relate with the last post you made on the community board dealing with testing. I was very similar to the guy named Dave. I took every test I could in California. I was a paid on call fire fighter, a seasonal for CDF in the summer and a student at CSU Chico trying to get a Bachelors degree. All of the sudden this last year my life changed forever. I took a test for a department just thinking I was doing it for experience. A few months later I got a letter stating I passed and that my oral interview was soon. I took the oral, got a letter a few months later stating that I passed. I was thinking to myself cool!! But I did not hear anything for a while (nearly six months). Then all of the sudden I had a chiefs interview, wow!! Then a physical, psych, background. Nearly a year after the test I had a full time job. This was a test I almost did not take, but I took it any ways for the experience. I am so grateful that I had a great girlfriend that convinced me to take the test. I am half way through probation and looking very good. I am so happy that all of my dreams for my career have started. I tell all of my buddies that want the badge as you say, test, test, test. Some get the idea and have gotten jobs. Some have not. I just thought I would share this story with you.


    From my Son Rob:

    So here I was 23 years old and working for the fire dept. being the new guy it was my job to do the “reserve night” weekly training for our reserve program. I was surprised to see guys coming in much older than myself, and I assumed they just enjoyed being reserves. No, they were only going to work for that dept. and no other. I felt a little hostility directed at myself, as they probably thought I took the job that should have been theirs. I asked them how many tests they had taken and they all said, “all of them” but only for my dept. one guy had taken six tests over 20 years, he was 40 and was still just going to hang drywall until the dept picked him up. That was 12 years ago. He doesn’t work here. He was under the impression he was paying his dues, only the guys who do the hiring didn’t know or care.
    We hire people after giving them a physical agility, written test , an oral exam, a chiefs interview, and a psyc, put them through four and a half months in training. When they come into the engine companies we still don’t know if they can go into a burning building, or see someone bleed.
    Is that right? is it fair? It doesn’t matter, what matters is that this is how we do it. It’s not a secret, and the people who figure it out get a job, may be your job. Start learning to play the game ever chance you get, so instead of not being sure of the rules next time, they let you be banker.

    "Captain Bob"



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