Firefighter hopefuls tested

Ashley Branch
@PensacolaNewsJournal.com

In a push to get their dream job, 39 people took the Escambia County Civil Service Board's firefighter agility tests.

Of those taking the timed test administered Thursday and Friday, 34 passed.

"You have to be in good physical shape and have a lot of stamina," said Cia Kaach, a human resource analyst with the Civil Service Board.

Kaach said the test, which involves three consecutive feats, is performed in heavy gear, which adds to the difficulty.

For the first test, the individual has to drag a water-filled hose across a line in 23 seconds.

"The hose is coiled up, and as they start to run with it, it uncoils," she said. "I've seen it knock people to the ground."

The second challenge involves a forcible entry, and test takers have 47 seconds to complete the task.

Kaach said the last test - for which 5 minutes and 40 seconds is allowed for completion - is the most difficult. Test takers have to drag a dry hose, run up the stairs, hoist up some tools, run down the stairs and drag a 150-pound dummy to the finish line.

Kaach said the appeal of the job is the motivation for many of the test takers, some of whom work as volunteer firefighters.

"The benefits of working for the county government and the better pay," Kaach said, also attract test takers. "With the fire department, there is a lot of upward mobility and promotional opportunity."


Schasey Jordan, 28, of Pensacola said he wants to work for the city or county fire department because he wants to help people.

He said he also likes the idea of being part of the camraderie shared by firefighters.

"They work together," he said. "I've never seen a bond like those guys have."

On Thursday, Jordan fell short of passing, something he attributed to working in the rain.

But on Friday, he was among those who passed.

"I've been wanting to get on with the fire department for a good while," said Jordan, who works installing indoor sprinkler systems. "I was determined to pass this test. It was pretty hard, but if you stay focused you can pass."

The Escambia County Civil Service Board sets employee and hiring policies for the several public agencies in Escambia County, including the Sheriff's Office and County Commission.